Friday, April 21, 2017

S is for Sense of Entitlement

This is the story of two elementary school teachers, each in charge of a classroom with twenty-four students; five identified with special needs, six English language learners, four kids with emotional regulation problems, and one boy with a pattern of non-compliance.

The first teacher (we'll call her Missy) kept her class quiet by waiting for them to stop speaking before she went on. She used planned ignoring to minimize problem behavior while offering verbal praise to children who followed directions. This worked, but it wasn't enough for the students who needed more focused behavioral support.

The second teacher (called Susan for the purpose of this post) managed her class by zeroing in on the children with problems: those who talked, those who whined, those out of their seats. When a problem behavior persisted, she employed sticker charts and rewards. This worked, but it also made the class louder and caused other problems.

I should probably clarify that Missy had a baby halfway through the year and Susan took over her class. I was a fly on the wall that got to witness this hullabaloo. 

Scratch that, I'd make a terrible fly! 

Let me tell you what I've learned from seeing two very different approaches. 

1.) Missy's approach is better for the class as a whole, but not ideal for the kids on the margins. That said, if she adds a few individualized incentives for a select few that should make her classroom management stronger.

2.) Giving rewards to children alone is not an adequate classroom management strategy. Supports like sticker charts work great when rewards are really and truly earned. But if you give out those rewards like candy on Halloween they lose the ability to motivate anyone.

Plus, there's real danger in doling out rewards if you do it wrong.

Like fostering in some children a sense of entitlement.


  1. I agree! Not everyone deserves a trophy or a star or a sticker. We need to raise our children to respect authority. Only then will they become positive members of adult society.


  2. Things have changed dramatically from when I was a child at school during the war. I no longer understand the problems teachers face - ones that did not seem to exist back then.

    S for Saddlers Cottage just across the road from my school.

  3. My mom was a teacher, and I think it’s one of the hardest jobs on Earth. I have huge respect for anyone who attempts it.

    Aj @ Read All The Things!

  4. Most teachers are trying to find a way to engage with each and every child in their class and what works for one may not work for another so it is really hard and tiring - but when you get it right it is amazing what can be accomplished :)

  5. I feel for both the teachers. Sadly in India, teaching doesn't get the kind of respect that it should get. There is no pride in being called a teacher. Add to that the abysmal teacher-child ratio, negligible teacher training programs and we have a half baked system in place.
    Stressed Future

  6. That part about rewards and entitlement is so true. It makes me wonder about the parents today who are so rewards-focused. I also wonder why anyone thinks the "everyone gets a trophy" approach would ever be anything positive.

  7. I taught for about 30 years. There was always something new to learn. It made the job interesting and aggravating.

  8. Seeing two different teaching styles is an excellent way for you to know which pieces of the equation to carry into your own teachings. Hopefully, you'll choice the best of many to become an elite specialized teacher for these special kids. Every child is indeed different and it's really a feat to meet so many needs by one person. This is something I could not do. Homeschooling our three was enough for me. lol


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