Grace B. Faxon.

How I did it. A helpful handbook for the teacher made up of devices, chosen for their originality and general usefulness, which will give variety to the schoolroom routine and add to the value and effectiveness of the teacher's work online

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Online LibraryGrace B. FaxonHow I did it. A helpful handbook for the teacher made up of devices, chosen for their originality and general usefulness, which will give variety to the schoolroom routine and add to the value and effectiveness of the teacher's work → online text (page 2 of 27)
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at nine came the reading from "Little Men," or whatever book
we chanced to be enjoying, then singing by a member or members
of the school, a short story, or a recitation. This portion of our
daily program occupied only twenty minutes, and varied each day.
Sometimes we exhibited curios, played some intellectual game
simple enough for all grades, or held a chalk-talk.

By using extracts from our story book in our lesson work, more
of an interest was aroused. Since I refused to lend my book,
every child strove to be present when it was read, and thus prompt
and very nearly perfect attendance was secured.


For several years I have used ethical memory gems in connec-
tion with my opening exercises. I am principal of the school in
which I teach, and at the morning exercises, in which all the
grades take part, I called on each one of the five grades to recite
a memory gem once a week.

Each year I found it increasingly difficult to get verses suitable
for use. Last vacation I solved the difficulty. I bought five blank
books and copied into them verses suitable to each grade. Most
of these verses I found in my files of Normal Instructor and Pri-


mary Plans. I did this work at odd moments through the sum-
mer, and really enjoyed it. My teachers say it has saved them
many precious minutes that they used to waste vainly hunting
through books and magazines for something suitable.

Later I added poems suited for special occasions, such as Colum-
bus Day and Thanksgiving. I owned those poems, but they were
scattered through a large collection of books and magazines.
Now I have them where I can always find them promptly.

Another device I used to make the opening exercises more at-
tractive was a chart with the words of the songs and hymns sung
by the children. We did not care to ask the children to buy
books, and, besides, we could not get books with the special songs
we liked. I bought a few full sheets of paper from a newspaper
office, tacked one edge between narrow strips of wood, put hangers
on the ends, and the chart was made. I used black ink and a pen-
cil with a cloth over it as a brush, and copied the words of the
hymns and songs we wished to use.


A pretty pennant was purchased and put" into a long, narrow
candy-box. Each child was allowed to paste a seal at the edge
of the cover. They were told that the box contained something
pretty that should decorate the schoolroom when it was earned.
Every day that our record of punctuality was perfect a seal was
removed. (I kept a list of the order in which the children placed
the seals.) If a child was tardy, there was a delay of a whole
day. • And the rule was made that the teacher should remove that
seal the next day, the order of pupils' removal of seals being taken
up again the next following day of perfect record.

The interest became keen, and tardy children were very unpop-
ular. When the last seal was removed and the pennant won, there
was genuine delight.


I plan to have something very interesting the first thing after
roll-call: a study of some insect, bird or flower, with use of the
microscope; a contest in quick addition, with the winner's name
on the blackboard for the day; a stereoscope and a few views to
be passed among the children, — anything which it will be a dis-
appointment to miss and which cannot be seen again that day.



We have an enrollment of about one hundred pupils. Seven
months have passed and we have had only seven cases of tardiness.
The grammar room has a record of only two tardy marks in three
years. Last year it held a perfect record in this respect. The
average attendance for the three years is eighty pupils.

One eighth grade pupil has not been absent or tardy during
her eight years of school attendance. Many have a record of
rive years of similar credit. Two graduates attained a record of
seven years of perfect record in these matters. This shows that
we make much of punctuality. We believe the habit is a most
useful one to form.

We use simple methods of encouragement. For one thing, a
hearty clapping of the hands follows the announcement that all
are present and on time. No one likes to start the day without
this, now. Our school board offers a further incentive by giving
a quarter-holiday to the class that has the highest per cent in its
attendance and punctuality marks for the month. We are proud
of our pupils. They are truly "one with us," and it helps them.


We draw a pretty picture and write or print the following on
it: "No Tardiness This Week." This card is hung on the wall,
and remains there as long as there is no tardiness. The pupil
who comes in late has to climb up and take down the card, a very
embarrassing task. This device has been so effective that our
tardiness decreased from 119 to 37, in one year.


There are many little things that count tremendously in the
keeping of good order in the schoolroom, and the neglect of which
may overthrow careful planning along other lines. One of these
is good order in passing into the school building. Last year the
principal of our building adopted a plan that we all like very
much. We call it the silence bell. One minute before time for
the children to pass in, the gong is rung. Every child immediately
stops his play and stands just where he is. Then the bell rings
again and the pupils walk quietly to their places in line. Thus
all pushing and scrambling are avoided.-



I make a calendar for each child at the beginning of the month.
I use rather heavy paper, five by eight inches. I color this foun-
dation paper. I cut from white paper some little attractive
month-emblem. For October, we used an apple. Below the
emblem a month-pad is pasted, with a square for each day. I
place the calendars low enough for the children to reach them.
As a part of the morning exercises, I allow each child to go to
the calendar-border and color the day's square red. I myself
color the square of any child who is absent, using blue instead
of red. I make up my attendance at the end of each week from
the calendars. At the end of the month, the children take home
the calendar for that month. They are delighted when all the
squares are red, and try hard to avoid having blue squares.


The following device succeeds with first grade pupils.

On a blackboard at one side of my room, in June, I draw three
strawberries and .color them. Underneath them I write the word
"Boys." Then I draw three more strawberries bearing the word
"Girls." For each boy who is tardy, I put a bad speck in the
boys' strawberries; for each girl who is tardy, a bad speck in the
girls'. At the end of the month the side which has the most per-
fect berries (bearing the least specks) wins. To make the bad
specks, I usually make a round spot with white crayon, as white
shows more plainly than any color.

I try to get berries, fruit, or flowers appropriate for each
month. In the winter months I use tropical fruits; for the early
spring months, the very early spring flowers. I put specks in the
flowers just as in the fruits, and make believe that the frost has
bitten them. It is really surprising how the tardy marks decrease
when the children become thoroughly interested.


I make a fan for each child, using nine pieces of light-weight
cardboard of the required shape. These are fastened with brass
fasteners, and narrow ribbon is run through slits at the opposite
ends of the cards, to allow of opening and closing the fan. Each
month is thus represented by one card of the fan. The weeks are


represented by stars pasted on the cards. The five points of the
stars suggest the five school days of the week. Perfect attendance
secures the full number of stars. The children are ambitious to
take home a beautiful fan at the end of the year. Occasionally
they are allowed to take a fan home to show progress. This plan
can be amplified at need.

I have also used blue cards on which are written the words,
"Let Your Sky be Full of Stars This Week." Gold stars are pasted
on the card for each day of perfect record for attendance and
promptness. Black stars and red stars show absence or tardiness.
A white crescent moon may be added, if desired; this should be
pasted in an upper corner of the "sky-card."


We try to have perfect attendance by dismissing those classes
which have 98% in attendance at two o'clock on Friday afternoon.
The class which has the highest attendance for the week gets the
banner, which is triangular and has on it the words, "Perfect At-
tendance." The banner is placed in a conspicuous place in the
classroom, and the classes try to outdo one another in getting it.
The attendance of all classes is placed on a blackboard in the
assembly room so that it can be seen by all pupils. The class
which heads the list feels highly honored.


The children had not been taught to keep their things in place,
nor to put their books away for the night. As a result, every
afternoon when school closed I found desks covered with books and
pencils, and the floor littered with bits of paper. Neither lec-
tures nor punishment seemed to do any good. At last I hit upon
a plan that worked. I bought a lot of small scrap pictures of
flowers and animals, at a cost of ten cents for two hundred. One
morning I announced that hereafter every pupil who left a book,
pencil, or scrap of paper on his desk or on the floor when he went
home in the afternoon would, on the following morning, find his
name written on the blackboard; and that those who put their
things away and kept their desks neat would, at the close of the
following day, receive a small picture. I also made it a part of
the rule that those whose names appeared on the board twice dur-
ing the same week should remain after school some afternoon and


help me sweep and put the house in order; but that those whose
names did not appear on the board for a whole week would re-
ceive a beautiful postcard.

It was hard for them at first, and the cards went slowly.
However, they improved rapidly, and before the term of school
closed it was a rare occurrence for me to write a pupil's name
on the board. This year I have the same school and am using
the same plan, but we are having no trouble in keeping our things
in their places. I give no day or week prizes, but at the end of
each month I give a two-cent picture to every child whose deport-
ment for the month has been good and who has kept his desk
neat. I have twelve pupils, and always have twelve pictures ready
at the end of the month, for it is a rare occurrence when every
child does not receive one.


I wonder how many teachers have found that, in a country
school especially, a great deal of noise is occasioned by thought-
lessness on the part of the children. I have at last found a plan
which succeeds, partially, at least, in removing this difficulty.

I purchased a small United States flag which I took to school
and showed to the children, explaining that I was going to divide
the school into two companies, according to the location of their
seats; and that the company which succeeded in keeping the quiet-
est during the day should be rewarded by having the flag hung on
their side of the room during the next day; and that the flag
should be changed each day according to the deportment of the
day before.


In the country school of mixed grades, many teachers find dis-
cipline their bugbear. The following plan has proved excellent.
The school is divided into two societies. The object of each soci-
ety is to excel in good order on its side of the room. Untidy
desks, unnecessary noise, whispering, and impoliteness (which
includes a "multitude of sins") make marks of discredit. Each
society has its name and badge. Penny pins, suitable for badges,
may be obtained from Sunday school supply houses. To obtain
at that price, however, you must order from their list. Choose
mottoes and colors to correspond with the pins. The officers are
president, secretary, and historian. Each society gives a program


once in six weeks. A prize is given to the winning society at the
end of each half year. These prizes are something for the school-
room that all pupils may enjoy, but the honor goes to the victors.
This plan puts the government of the school in the pupils'
hands. Rivalry is keen, and the older pupils work with their
teacher to keep this rivalry friendly. The librarian and recep-
tion committee are chosen from among the older pupils.


Get as many envelopes as you have pupils, write the pupils'
names upon them, and then string them across some corner of the
room, calling it "Goody Land." Get some white pasteboard and
cut into quarter-inch squares, placing on some of them No. 1 and
on some No. 2.

Give the pupils who had their lessons well a square with a 1 on
it, at the end of the day, and those who had them fairly well a
square with a 2 on it. Then tell them to come with you and visit
Goody Land and put their tickets into the envelopes that bear
their names. Say to them: "When you get ten tickets having
No. 1 or twenty with No. 2, I will give you a picture."

This device has worked finely with us. The children are de-
lighted with it, and work hard to get a ticket every day. We use
penny pictures for rewards.


It had always been my custom to speak to a pupil when the floor
near him had paper or dirt on it. The usual command before in-
termissions was, "Please pick up all the paper on the floor near
your desk." Often I found it necessary to speak the second time
to a careless boy who did not wish to take the trouble to pick up
all the small pieces.

But last year I found a plan that saved me all this trouble. We
called our room a town, and named the streets First, Second,
Third, Fourth, and Fifth streets. When I announced the plan you
should have seen the loose paper that came out of the books in
some of those desks. When any one saw a dirty house on any
street he was to repurt that number to the mayor. Each was very
careful that his own street was clean. Some even swept their
street out at noon and recess. The interest in a clean town was
keen to the very end of the term.



My first school was in a splendid neighborhood of intelligent and
progressive people, with an enrollment of fifty-five, ranging in
age from six to twenty-one, and in accomplishments from ABC
to algebra and higher English. The year previous, the teacher
had been compelled to resign, or, as it is usually expressed, "The
pupils had run the teacher out," and dire results were predicted
for my first efforts. I found many studious pupils, but several
drones and rowdies who were ever ready to lead in revolt or mis-
chief. They had never been taught to place their books in the
desks, and it was my "rule" to make no "rules" until they were
needed. But I knew of this habit by a previous visit to the
school, so when it came noon I announced that it was twelve
o'clock, and as soon as all books and slates were in the desks we
would be dismissed for noon. Before they had time to realize
that they were being reformed they had complied with the request
and were merrily eating their dinners. The same rule was ob-
served in the afternoon. So, without making any "rule" for the
purpose, the pupils were all observing one that is essential to
good school government.


One afternoon I told my pupils about a visit to West Point, and
explained my observation oi the soldiers on dress parade. Then
I asked, "How many would like to try being soldiers for the rest
of the year?"

By the manifestation of eager upraised hands, it was evident
that all were anxious to try. We devised a plan something like
this: Each lesson was to be a battle — a good lesson a battle won,
a poor lesson a battle won by some enemy, such as indolence, im-
patience, inattention, or wasted time. Then we drew up a set of
orders intended to train our soldiers in courage, obedience,
thoughtful ness, truth, and patience. We tried to follow out one
of these each week, as our time was limited. The teacher was to
be the leader of the soldiers, and the fact was impressed that a
good soldier aiways obeys his leader's orders.

We all started in as common soldiers. One who was victorious
in a certain number of battles each week remained a soldier; a
certain per cent higher entitled the warrior to the rank of good
soldier, provided the conduct was good in each case. I kept a


record of the battles won — good lessons recited or tasks done cor-
rectly — and tacked it on the bulletin board each Monday morning.
At the end of the year, those who had won a certain number of
battles each week and whose conduct had been exemplary were
promoted, according to their attainments, from good soldiers to

I found this plan very helpful in teaching the grammar grades
of a two-room school. It did not create undue competition, but
rather helped to build character, produced better scholarship, in-
creased loyalty to country and flag, and helped us to become bet-
ter acquainted with our history. We also wrote a little historical
play in connection with it.


I always have my pupils pass into the hall, get their wraps, and
then put them on in the schoolroom. There is but one objection
to this, and that is the noise and confusion caused by taking one
another's wraps. I find this a very good way to deal with this
phase of disorder.

Just as the pupils go to get their wraps I tell them if they go
quickly and quietly I will tell them a story while they are getting
ready to go home. I begin as soon as they are back in the room,
and it is suprising how quiet and orderly they will be while lis-
tening to the story. This does not prevent me from helping some
of the smallest ones fasten together their cloaks, hoods, and so on,
for if I know the story well I can go on with it while I am help-
ing them to bundle up. Besides lessening the noise at the closing
minute, it puts the children's minds in a more congenial attitude.
Many a boy who has been all ready to run right home to Mother
and tell some bad tale of school will forget all about his troubles
after listening to the story of Brer Fox and the Tar Baby, or the
funny little negro Epaminondas.


One of the first things many teachers are tempted to do at the
beginning of the term is to make rules; and a good thing to re-
member in this connection is to stop- making them before you be-
gin. As surely as you tell a room full of pupils that they must
not whisper, each separate one there will think of some very im-
portant thing to tell to some one near him, and he will fairly ex-


plode until he has relieved himself of that idea. Any one who
reads this will know from his own experience that this is true,
for practically every person has met the same condition in his
school life. And it is the same way with anything else that is
forbidden. As soon as the children hear what it is, that is the
very thing they want to do most; so don't make rules.

Don't neglect the first case of insubordination or disobedience
that occurs. Attend to it promptly and judiciously, even if it is
the very first thing you have to do after ringing the bell, and it
will very likely be a long time before you have the second. Chil-
dren will know by the end of the first day of school just about
how far they can go, and it will be a pretty difficult thing for a
teacher to regain control lost during the first six hours' acquain-
tance with her pupils. One never knows just what is going to
happen; but the teacher will have abundant opportunity on the
eventful first day to impress her force of character on her pupils.
It will be far easier to overlook slight disobediences later on in
the term, when she has become acquainted with the different dis-
positions of the children, than on the first morning.

Don't imagine that you can treat all pupils alike. Some schol-
ars will go quietly and diligently to work to prepare a lesson
that others in the same class will not be willing to give five min-
utes' effort. Now, if there are any little favors to bestow — such as
reading a story, or any particular thing the diligent pupil may like
to do — let him do it; and make it plain to the restless, unruly pupil
that he can gain the same privileges by attending to duty first.

Don't punish the little children for their little offenses, and
pass by the things that the older pupils do to produce confusion,
disorder, and trouble. If the older scholars are kept within bounds
and made to know that they must obey, the smaller ones will give
no trouble. The teacher who is determined to have a quiet, stu-
dious school will not neglect to give prompt attention to misde-
meanors on the part of the older pupils.

Don't fail to have a daily program; for recitations of course,
and for study periods by all means. Then each child will know
just exactly what he is expected to do at each period of the day.

Don't neglect your own daily preparation. No matter how many
times you may have reviewed a subject, it will do no harm to have
it fresh in your mind; and the teacher owes it to herself as well
as to the scholars to make everything as interesting as possible.

One more thing: don't fail to be on time. The teacher had
better be on the school ground at seven o'clock, if necessary, than


to allow any of the scholars to get there first. If several of the
children get there ahead of the teacher, she will be compelled to
listen to all sorts of complaints that she can never get the real
facts about; and if she is really late, she has invited tardiness
among the pupils; — so don't be late.


Often there comes an occasion while the class is working, when
the teacher must give undivided attention to some matter of
routine, reports, or preparation. At such times even necessary
hand-raising or desk consultation is distracting, and the "Busy
Card" becomes a boon.

The "Busy Card" is simply the cardboard back of an arith-
metic block, about nine by twelve in size. On it a pupil has been
allowed to print in plain, bold letters the one word BUSY. To
notify the class that no interruptions are desired, the card is set up
on the teacher's desk, or hung on a small hook at the top of the board
just over the teacher's head, where the pupils cannot fail to see it.
Many minutes are saved in this way, for both pupils and teacher.


I let the pupils choose two leaders, and these leaders choose
sides, with twenty on each side. Each side chooses a name and
colors, such as Sunshine Band and Fair Play Club, with the colors
ysllow and red, and white and blue. I place on the two front black-
boards the names of the societies and the names of the members
of each, and rule off four squares opposite each name, one square
for each week of the month. Demerits are counted against a child
for disorder of any kind, ranging from one to ten according to
the offense. Five demerits count as one per cent off the deport-
ment grade. At the end of the first week the demerits against
each child are placed in the first square opposite his name, at the
end of the second week in the second square, etc. At the end of
the month, tne society having the least number of demerits
against it is the pennant winner, and carries the pennant above
its blackboard for the next month. The pennant is made of felt
and bears the monogram of the winning club in the club's colors.
The next month we begin again. This plan keeps the deportment
of each pupil before them, delights the children, and causes a great
deal of healthy rivalry.



Punishment by ruler is an unheard-of thing in our first grade.
The children are only babies, and a great many times are naughty
when they mean to be good. In our school, tags are used if the
children are late or naughty, and are made in this way: Take a
square of paper and write the word "tardy" or "naughty" upon
the paper. We use green crayon for a very naughty child, yellow
for slighter punishments and black for greater ones. These are

Online LibraryGrace B. FaxonHow I did it. A helpful handbook for the teacher made up of devices, chosen for their originality and general usefulness, which will give variety to the schoolroom routine and add to the value and effectiveness of the teacher's work → online text (page 2 of 27)