For as long as the first 2 weeks.
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And that's where my class is at right now. They are in that "testing" stage. This is when a teacher has to be more focused than ever about her expectations. I'm still getting to know who they are, so it's a learning experience for ME too. Taking a certain tone with one kid might not faze them, yet take the same tone with another and you'll get tears. We all hate the unwarranted tears. We have to constantly walk that balance between, "Maintain discipline and command respect," and "Gain their trust so they'll see you as someone they can open their mind to." It's a good time to send a copy of your behavior policies home for parents to be involved.
This became a serious problem one day last week when one of the children was so silly in the hall that a woman carrying her toddler almost tripped over him. I reenacted the scene with them. "Judy, pretend you're the mom, and my lunch box is the baby. Carry it like a baby...good. Kevin, you pretend you're the uncle (if I said they were the mom and dad the rest of the ten year olds would have had the opportunity to tease them for being married). Now, pretend you're not really watching where you're going because you're talking with a preschool teacher. Suddenly Johnny dives across the floor because he dropped his pencil."
I dove a foot in front of Judy.
"The baby's uncle reaches out to steady her shoulder. Otherwise, she would have fallen right over him, and landed on her baby."
The class went wide eyed and silent.
Since this was in clear violation of rule #1: Safety, we had no choice but to practice lining up safely.
"That was much better," I told them. "Not only were you able to walk in a straight, quiet line, you did it with ALL kinds of distractions! There were kids playing out there, kids using hula hoops right beside you, and I was halfway across the playground. So if you can do it with all those distractions, I KNOW you can do it when you're just walking through a quiet hallway! In fact, you proved you don't even NEED me there; I could stand on one end of the hall and you could get to the other end with no problem. That's what you just showed me you can do."
Then I sent them off to play, on a high. It didn't take a whole lot of time from recess (I had told them when they asked how much recess they'd miss, "Don't worry, we'll practice for as long as you need to"). And the class knew the reason why it had to be practiced. I'm sure they'll still test me, but I'm one step closer to showing them that I'm the person in control, and I take my responsibility of keeping people in our school safe very seriously.