I need to develop my top three tenets of classroom management–three simple things I can come back to on days like today when I let them beat me, when I lost the respect of my students and myself. I don’t want to be the teacher that rules with intimidation and threats. These, for some reason, become my defaults on days that I’m tired or not on my A-game. These can’t be excuses. I teach humans, humans who want to do well. The best advice I’ve received so far (best meaning, I’ve tried it and it works) are the following:
- Replace 3 minutes of something they don’t like with 3 minutes of something they like (Dan Meyer)
- Routines – establish routines and stick to them-slow is smooth and smooth is fast (Terry Wyberg)
- Follow through – set expectations for students, communicate these to students and then follow through when these expectations aren’t met (Kim Campbell)
- Engaging lessons – yeah this is ideal, but unfortunately not an everyday reality
The follow through is what I struggle with the most. I let one kid get away with not meeting an expectation and all of the sudden I’ve been overtaken by 20 of them talking at once, wiggling around the room, a low hum buzzing throughout the room. Where’s it even coming from? How many chromosomes do 7th graders share with hummingbirds? The incessant flapping of wings at speeds that create a low, incessant hum makes me think that someone should start mapping these two species.
In all seriousness, though, if I followed through more, they wouldn’t have a chance to get to me and then I wouldn’t turn into this evil dictator that rules from an insecure place of power and authority over compassion and fairness. Recognize the good, don’t focus on the bad, proximity speaks louder than words (even if those words are on the microphone).