I’m not the kind of teacher that automatically yells at kids.
“You want to sit with your friends? Go for it.”
“You want to listen to music while you paint? That works!”
“You want to use the restroom ten minutes into class? Feel free!”
And this all works very well for 90% of my class who are kind, respectful and so grateful there’s not a teacher who is screaming like a banshee out of hell on speed which, frankly, is not out of the ordinary for a middle school teacher.
But there’s always that 10% who take advantage.
Who linger for 20 minutes in the restroom.
Who think I don’t see them bent over like the Hunchback of Notre Dame in their California hoodies playing Fornite.
Who want to ignore me and speak over directions I have given over… and over… and over… and then have the audacity to ask me what the hell is going on.
And that right there… the “who have the audacity” statement… is where I must catch myself. It’s not because I’m wrong. It’s because it smacks of judgment. And judgment for this lady means I’m personalizing. And when I personalize, I get resentful, which brews frustration, which causes me to raise my voice, which causes kids to listen to me as much as Democrats want to hear about Trumps border wall.
The solution: Clear expectations on my part. Not just sometimes. Every time. And when they don’t do what they are supposed to do, I ask them to move to a new table. Or talk to them privately. Or ask questions about what they need to best learn and achieve the lesson goal.
Having been someone who is slow to certain life lessons myself, I know only too well that behind every reactive behavior is a hurt or a need. If I would want someone to be patient with me, that means I must be patient with my students. It means I don’t have the luxury to pretend like they’re ditching class to be personal. I get to stay calm and kind and give them every opportunity to access a lesson. I must stay open. Even if I want to run screaming like a BTS fan at the Grammys.
And if after all my work at staying calm and not taking things personal my methods still doesn’t work and they blow me off defiantly, then they get a lower grade.
Happily Ticked Off Tip #14: Show lots of grace but take no crap. It’s a killer combo.