Red Tags and Redefining Your Teaching Style

Hello, my name is Sandra Morales, but my students call refer to me as Teacher Sandy. I have been working for Qkids for a little over a year. I have a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy and have worked with students of all ages since my graduation. My favorite student will forever be my son, whom I homeschooled for two years. Education has always been important to my family. In terms of short-term goals, I obtained my 120 Hour TESOL certificate to be better prepared to teach my Qkids students. When it comes to my long-term goals, I plan to be an excellent blog writer for Qkids along with teaching a full schedule. Within the next two years, I plan on working towards my Master's in English. I always ask each of my students in class what their favorite color, animal, and food is. Therefore, I only see it as fitting to close with my favorites, which are purple, panda, and chicken with rice. 

Red Tags

RED!!! One of the three primary colors. When we ask our students to name something red, they usually respond with an apple, a car, a ball. Red has come to signify many different things for me in my lifetime. For example, when I was a grade school student, I always looked in shock while my teacher graded everyone’s paper with her infamous red pen. Although I never received a bad mark in my assignments and homework, I grew up knowing that red marks are your paper were to be frowned upon. No student ever wanted to get red marks. 
The years progressed and the same held true for my university courses. Professors used the dreaded red pens to mark shortcomings in our papers and our assignments. Just recently I began to understand that the red tags did not symbolize failure, but a missed opportunity to be better. The years have progressed, and I am 37 years old and teaching ESL classes for a wonderful company. Just recently our company switched to using red tags as opposed to grey tags to allow parents to provide us with constructive feedback. You know the red marks I am talking about!! 
Every week, we see various teachers post and comment that they have received red tags and are pretty bummed out about it. I do not blame them. As a matter of fact, I would be lying if I did not admit that I felt exactly as they did when I first got a red tag. However, I have come to a very astounding revelation after battling with the concept of red tags. Red tags are not necessarily a bad thing. Red tags simply mean stop!!

Red Means Stop!

Yes!! Red, means stop. Just like a red light tells us to stop, the red tag tells us to stop. If you think that I am suggesting that you stop teaching for Qkids, you are wrong. I am telling you to stop what you are doing and reevaluate your teaching style and techniques. One of the biggest mistakes we can make as teachers is expecting each class to go as smoothly as others we have taught. In a perfect teaching world this would be possible, but not in real life. The fact is that we are dealing with different children, with varying learning styles, personalities, and backgrounds. Before we start teaching a lesson we must try to gather some feedback from our young learners. We are allowed to do so during the introduction slide.
My son’s school birthday party. He is Iron Man in middle 
The introduction time allows us to ask general questions and most importantly it allows us an opportunity to see the child’s surroundings. It is at this point that we can discover if the child is participating, playing, tired, distracted, eating, angry or even sitting yet. The way they answer our initial questions allows us to see how open to learning and ready to participate in the lesson they are. 

When I first started, I had a young 6-year-old girl who would refuse to state her name or answer the questions “how are you?” As a new teacher, I felt hurt, but I kept my composure. I asked her “are you angry?” I proceeded to tell her “I get angry too sometimes.” I also crossed my arms and did an angry face, that she thought was the funniest thing ever. She proceeded to laugh and said, “I am Elsa.” I said, “very nice to meet you.” The lesson went by smoothly and she participated along with other students. Needless to say, I received great marks for that class. I would have most certainly received a red tag or two if I had not addressed this issue early on the lesson. The child’s parents would have questioned my overall teaching abilities and other parents may have found the class unwelcoming, unprofessional or disruptive. All these issues lead to red tags.

Parent Interruption 

Of course, this is only one of the scenarios we encounter as teachers. Another very common scenario that leads to the dreaded red tags is parent interruptions. I understand as a parent myself, that the parents are simply trying to help their child. Sometimes the child is more open to repeat something after their parent and that is perfectly understandable. However, there are instances in which a parent seems to take over the lesson and that is when we must stop and realize that we must regain control of the classroom. 

The best method of doing so for me has been to ask the child a question and encourage them to answer without anybody’s help. For example, “John can you please tell me how many desks? Count the desks, John. Please look at me, John. How many?” The parent realizes that the child needs to answer alone and more times than not they step back. Ultimately, the parent may still decide to give you a red tag, but at least you know that you have established your role as a teacher and with continual practice will be able to regain control of the classroom when lost.

Is it Me?

I have heard many teachers state that they feel that they are given red tags, simply because parents do not like them. My response to this is, make yourself more likable. Various studies have shown that it is difficult to dislike or be mean to someone that is continuously smiling. Furthermore, a person that speaks in an understanding and empathic tone is more likely to be liked. So it is important that as teachers we smile, show empathy and also excitement. We need to stop and show our students that we are happy to be teaching them and excited to be allowed to teach them thanks to amazing technological advancements.

Ultimately, the best advice I can give you as a Qkids teacher is to “stop and smell the red roses (tags)”. The red tags are simply a reminder that we need to stop, slow down, and reevaluate our teaching technique. Red does not need to symbolize a bad thing, but simply a missed opportunity. The red tags serve as guides that detail where changes need to be made in our teaching method. Do not be defined by the red tags, but rather redefine your teaching based on the helpful red tags. Join the Qkids blog for more helpful tips.
Happy teaching!!!!

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