Friday, July 29, 2011
Key to classroom management: keeping yourself in a general state of zen.
I recently read a post on Smart Classroom Management dealing with difficult students. I've had some VERY difficult students in the past few years and I wish that I could say I always handled their challenging behaviors with grace, dignity and calm authority--but I would be lying. Staying mentally and emotionally disengaged when a child's whose behaviors and fits are driving you batty is extremely challenging.
During the past school year, I realized that I didn't feel in control of my classroom. I felt like I wasn't commanding the kind of respect that I wanted. Michael Linsin says that you can tell your students don't really respect you if they are constantly making "suggestions" on how you ought to run things, and I felt like this happened a lot, especially toward the end of the year. Yikes.
This summer, I learned that respect does not have to be harshly or loudly demanded. In fact, those two things will actually decrease your students' respect for you. Instead, be calm, clear and authoritative.
I have one particular student who I've sometimes felt has made it his first grade career to challenge everything I instruct him to do. Some days, it's been quite the headache.
Not so anymore. Now, if he makes a "suggestion" or attempts to find 8 alternatives to doing what I tell him, I simply remind him that in this case, the decision is mine, and his job is to follow instructions. I don't raise my voice, I don't get upset, I just calmly look him in the eye and remind him to go do his job. Calmness for me, consistency for him. Good deal.