Yep, Everyone Needs a Break

Eric Charlesworth

by Eric Charlesworth

For Middle Level

Like many DD-trained teachers, I use take a break (TAB) in my classroom liberally as a quick and quiet redirect for off-task behavior. Most of my sixth-graders follow our TAB protocol correctly. And the question I often get from other educators is how do I get students to view a trip to the TAB chair as a tool rather than a punishment? This perception is a critical factor in instituting TAB successfully.

Jenna Fulton TAB Barton_web

The way TAB is introduced and explained, the tone of voice you use when using TAB, and other classroom climate factors play a large role in getting students to lessen the association they may have to the penalty time-out they may be used to. I think the most substantial way to generate student buy-in is to demonstrate that the TAB chair, like other tools (rulers, calculators, etc.) will truly be used by everyone in the class.

Even though we all have a wide divergence of students in our classes, and some are on point far more often than others, I have yet to observe a "perfect" middle-schooler. In fact, a young adolescent who is always 100% focused and never makes a little mistake would scare me! I'd be thinking, "robot." And since everyone errs occasionally and TAB is used for very small things, it allows me to redirect everyone to the chair.

When my struggling students see that my aces are sharing the chair with them, it takes away some of the onus. People start to really believe that we are working in a community where people are learning from mistakes rather than getting in trouble.

Collin TAB Barton

I encourage everyone to make sure their TAB chair is used by all students in the class, and not becoming the regular hangout of two or three frequent flyers. Seeing it is for all will help it work well for many.

Eric Charlesworth is a sixth-grade mathematics teacher and advisor at Paul Cuffee Charter School in Providence, Rhode Island. Recently, he obtained principal certification. He has practiced the Developmental Designs approach in middle school for eight years.

Posted October 2013

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