Classroom Management Part II - Five Things a Teacher Should Never Ever
Feb 3, 2010 Classroom Management 2700 Views
I'm only human.
Of flesh and blood, I'm made.
I'm only human.
Born to make mistakes.
--Human League, "Human"
If you have attended any professional development session for more than three seconds, then you know you should not smite your students, call them names, or cast a spell transforming them into bloated, wart-covered toads. Still, there are those gray areas--those mistakes that we do not realize are mistakes--those pebbles that tumble over the cliff and set off an avalanche of classroom chaos.
This article will help you avoid such landslides. As the second in a series of articles about classroom management, this article lists five behaviors educators should avoid at all cost. What follows are a list of things teachers should never ever do.
LET'S GET PHYSICAL. But only if you are coaching a sport. Of course you know better than to hit students. As an adult, you should also avoid grabbing, tapping, or hugging students.
- WHY NOT. Touch can be misinterpreted. These tactile cues become even more confused when they are exchanged between a supervising adult and a child. Students have different relationships to physicality. Though you may not know a student's issues, you can trigger them.
- OTHER OPTIONS. To congratulate your students, give handshakes or high-fives. To console your students, listen to them and offer teacherly assistance. To gain the attention of your students, use the strategies mentioned in the next section.
YOU MAKE ME WANNA SHOUT! No matter how your students are behaving, do not shout at them in anger. Shouting is the equivalent of a verbal punch--a slap in the face with your larynx.
- WHY NOT. Shouting adds to the noise of the classroom, the noise you may be trying to address with your shouts. Shouting also startles students and makes them feel unsafe.
- OTHER OPTIONS. Replace shouting with a gentler method of signaling attention. Counting backwards from 5 to 1, ringing a bell, turning down the lights, or issuing a call-and-response clap are some tried and true methods to refocus your group.
CRY ME A RIVER. Perhaps a kid has shared a troubling story with you. Perhaps you have just had a difficult conversation with an administrator. Perhaps a parent has accused you of being unfair. There are a number of situations in which a teacher may feel like crying. Still, as much as humanly possible, avoid crying in front of your students.
- WHY NOT. Crying places your emotional needs before the needs of your students (literally and figuratively). Seeing a supervising adult cry could make students feel sad, guilty, or unsafe. Crying could also undermine your authority or burden students who are dealing with their own ups and downs.
- OTHER OPTIONS. If a situation at school makes you sad, angry, or frustrated, remember to focus on the situation as it relates to your job. Address it as such. If you are feeling overwhelmed at school or in your personal life, talk with an administrator, mentor, or school counselor.
WOULD I LIE TO YOU, HONEY? If you have not graded the quizzes, then do not tell the students that your dog ate their papers. If you have not read their emails, then do not tell the students that your hard drive crashed.
- WHY NOT. Lying compromises your credibility and your students' trust. Further, lying models a poor way of dealing with responsibility.
- OTHER OPTIONS. Be honest and transparent. Tell students that you have yet to grade their papers or read their emails. Apologize, and then, give them a date by which to expect your response. Exercising this level of honesty models a healthy way of balancing life's many responsibilities.
LOST IN EMOTION. Sadness, anger, frustration, and angst are a part of everyday life. You are human, and, as a human being, you experience emotions. Still, you should tuck these emotions away while you are teaching. Remember: a room full of pre-teens does not a therapist's couch make.
- WHY NOT. No matter if you are angst-ridden or overjoyed, broadcasting your feelings puts your emotions, and not the goals of the classroom, on center stage. Remember: you are paid to facilitate the development of your students, not to publicize your emotional highs and lows.
- OTHER OPTIONS. Personal days, sick days, and extended leave exist to help you take care of yourself. Use these breaks. In addition to these options, turn to family, friends, mentors, and therapists as appropriate emotional outlets.
Though you are an educator--wise, powerful, and all-seeing--you are also human. As a human, you are bound to make mistakes in classroom management. Minding the points listed above will help you avoid grievous errors and will sure up your classroom management skills. Look out for upcoming articles in this series, including the following:
- What to Do When All Your Students Hate Your Guts
- How to Deal with the "Problem" Student
- Tackling Talkers, Whisperers, and Note Passers
- How to Avoid Loosing Students, and Your Mind, on a Field Trip
- Five Ways to Win Your Students' Trust, and Their Hearts
- Stay Sane. Stay Organized