I don't have any kids of my own. I have been a teacher and I have owned several dogs that I have raised. I have always maintained the same philosophy whether I am dealing with people or animals.
My dogs I raise like I would a child. I lavish praise on them and openly tell them that I love them. I praise them for good behavior and I am stern but none-the-less loving when they misbehave. I do not typically use food as reward for training purposes but I do use praise and a certain tone of voice to communicate either satisfaction or dissappointment with behaviors. I have found that the same technique is effective either for animals or children. My dog K.C. really keys in to my tone of voice and is always eager to receive praise.
When I was a teacher I taught Special Education. Special Ed is a label that covered everything from behavior to a variety of learning disorders. I was passionate about teaching and about the well-being and the self-perceptions of my students. I had to take a stands often for my students. Sometimes this involved taking a stand when issues arose between students and their peers and sometimes it involved taking a stand against an administration that was more concerned about the financial impact they were facing from the implications of the standardized FCAT test that measured the effectiveness of the school.
Because the FCAT was only measured on mainstream students, the resources of the school were predominately spent toward the mainstream classrooms. Also my tenure started in October and the school year was well underway and materials had been scavenged and horded by other teachers.
My job not only involved taking charge of the classroom and overcoming some horrendous misbehavior issues by the students I was taking charge of...it also involved assessing the student's specific educational needs, where the currently were and where they needed to be. I also had to become tremendously resourcefull in tracking down spare texts and teaching materials.
With the misbehavior issues I had to develop a fair, stern stance in dealing with the kids. The best tool I found for dealing with this was incorporating parental assistance. After I had a couple of student phone their parents and describe their misbehavior with me standing by my problems with misbehavior began to subside... In fairness I would also communicate with parents when their child had displayed exceptional behavior as well. I believed in counseling with the kids regarding their behaviors and having them discuss with me why their behaviors was wrong.
I took the time to learn the interests and talents of my students. I would attempt to incorporate this knowledge into my lesson planning and try to assign problems that incorporated elements of these interests and talents into the lessons and problems I assigned.
I developed an aerospace theme for my classroom and brought in, at my own expense, replica minature aircraft that I would hang in the class from the ceiling in realistic action positions. I also brought in models and posters of spaceflight for inspiration to the kids to illustrate the impossibillity of some of mankind's acheivements and to teach them that with imagination and ambition that anything is possible. A letter to the the headquarters of the Airforce Thunderbirds also yielded a poster signed by the pilots of the demonstration team as a gift to the classroom.
I went to war with the administration because they had painted the label of the classroom on the door "Special Education". I was unsuccessful in getting them to remove the label. Those kids did not need to be singled out as being different. I let them know that the written label was an insult to my kids and although they may have different needs that they did not need to be labeled before the entire student body as being different.
Although I was unsuccessful in getting the label removed, my decor and additions to the classroom gave all of the students a sense of pride in their room. They often brought in their mainstream student friends to show them their room. Some of these students would often come back to visit own their own and bring in their friends to show them. The community is near a couple of military bases, Navy and Airforce. Many of the students had parents that were in the military. I even had a student from another classroom bring in his dad, who was in the Airforce, to show him our room.
Another technique that I developed with this theme was that I would make some subtle additions or changes to the decor or placement of the decor. The students learned to be aware of their surroundings and look for changes. They would memorize the location and the items themselves and it became a game for them to be the first to point out a change. This was helpful especially to some of my ADD kids.
Before long I had teaching materials...I had the love and respect and the appropriate behavior of my kids...They had a sense of pride in their classroom and learning was fun for them. They wanted to come to school. I would take the time to work one on one with each of my kids and I had rapport with them. I also opened a communication line and had established rapport with and support from the parents. I took the initiative to arrange field trips. I also incorporated and searched for learning games to incorporate into my teaching.
I tried to take advantage of every teaching moment that would arise. I would offer assistance and would try to guide and allow the students to reach logical conclusions (correct answers) to some of the questions they may have regarding their assignments.
Regarding the nature vs nurture arguement...I believe that some of us are predisposed to be better at some things than others either by coincidence or genetics but I beleive that with imagination and motivation we all have unlimited potential. With my students I let them know that I believed in them and I made every effort to encourage them to believe in themselves.
Friends are the best collectibles