Here at SCM, we’re used to hearing horror stories from teachers.
But the sheer number of emails we’ve received this past school year is like nothing we’ve ever seen. Students were different. There is no doubt about it.
How? Just more of everything:
Any and every area of misbehavior it seems has gotten worse since the return to full in-person learning. And teachers are way stressed-out over it. Many are leaving the profession or wondering how they’ll survive another year.
The bad news is that I don’t see it getting better for some time. The good news is that you can still have the calm, peaceful class you want.
You have to be great in two particular areas. You see, most teachers weren’t prepared for the extreme and frequent behaviors they were seeing. So they reacted instinctively by trying to talk students into behaving.
They tried to convince, counsel, lecture, admonish, reason with, appease, berate, sweet talk, intimidate, reward, and rebuke. At the same time, they lowered their expectations—often at the behest of administration.
They gave more chances, allowed more exemptions, and accepted less than what they knew was best for students. They tolerated chaos and disorder and an environment that was anything but conducive to learning.
But those same students who’ve been through so much and fallen so far behind can be shaped and healed and caught up by a disciplined teacher focused on just two things.
Not just good at these things most of the time, mind you, but great at them all of the time.
They’re not complex. They represent two of the most common principles we’ve been touting here at SCM for more than a decade. They just mean more now than ever.
What are they?
Your boundaries of behavior, defined by a comprehensive classroom management plan, that protect learning and enjoyment of your classroom must remain fixed.
Immovable. Non-negotiable. Absolute. Like an iron stake driven into frozen ground. You must never, ever retreat. Never, ever surrender. Like a soldier on a winter’s night with a vow to defend.
If you say it – “These are the rules and consequences” – then you must abide by it. No matter the response. No matter your fear or concern over outside pressures. You are the lonely knight at the gate, abandoned perhaps but unbowed.
Consistent doesn’t mean most of the time. It means all of the time. Kindness, in the sense of effective classroom management, doesn’t mean individual kindness (though it can on occasion).
It means pleasantness, calmness, and easy confidence that exudes from your every pore and stays with you when the going is good and when a student misbehaves.
It never leaves you. It’s given to the whole class all at the same time and continues until you leave for the day. It’s charity with zero expectation of return.
This doesn’t mean you have to perpetually smile and give compliments. You don’t have to say anything, in fact. It’s an attitude of strength. You’re a rock-solid high-road warrior who stays above the fray and leads by character and deed.
No Matter Where Or Who
Among the swirling chaos in and throughout the most difficult schools and challenging classrooms, there is serenity.
There are shoulders that drop with a relaxed sigh upon crossing the threshold and into a place that makes sense in a world gone mad.
You can do this.
Yes, I recommend the full SCM approach for best results. But in this day and age, unbending boundaries and consistent kindness are far and away most important. Critical, in fact, if you want to learning to take place.
If you want to love your job, still, no matter where you work or who is on your roster. If you want to make your way home every day calm and grateful and knowing that you have a secret.
That makes it all work.
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