You can know all of the content, write the best lessons, and have access to the best trainings, activities, and units–none of it will ever reach those students’ minds if you do not know how to relate to them and keep a disciplined classroom.
- Relating to your students.
If I traveled to Bangkok to teach, at the onset of my arrival it would appear as if my students and I did not have anything in common. I was brought up differently from them. They were brought up differently than me. The language and cuisine is different (but delicious). The attire is different.
The scenery is different…BUT after stepping out to relate to my students, we would find we had more in common than not in common. Bangkok has tremendous pollution. So do many areas in the U.S. They have markets, we have markets. They shop, I shop. We have beautiful landmarks, they have beautiful landmarks. I might even ask the students to suggest to me places to visit. You get the point.
I had someone cry because as she was aging, she was finding she could not relate to her students. Here’s the surprise–she could. Had she searched out what her and her students had in common, and highlighted those similarities, she wouldn’t have stayed so miserable the rest of the year.
She could have also shown interest in things they liked. I have students who are in love with Fortnite. It holds no interest for me whatsoever (still in love with Mario Bros.) They, however, love it. So what did I do last year? I started researching it. I went back to class that next week and started discussing the detailed aspects of the game character. Low and behold, they got excited and thought it was cool I took the time to look it up. Now when kids bring it up, I light up…just a tad.
Relating simply takes a little research and understanding the value of relating to your kids. You may have been born in different neighborhoods, time zones etc., but the love is still there…if you try.
2. Establishing discipline in your class.
I am going to be honest. You have enough responsibility on you. Having a disrespectful, unruly class is a bitter fruit on top of a stress-filled sundae. An undisciplined class can almost make you bitter and feel like a failure…and make you resent your students.
Here is the key to a disciplined class…get ready…CONSISTENCY. You cannot implement a reward system or rules once then never revisit it. The first few weeks of school are exhausting because you are constantly reinforcing, correcting, and guiding students. Where I see teachers’ classes go haywire is when they get “tired” and “distracted” and start slipping on consistency. I’ve seen teachers (not currently) but in years past let students basically roast them.
I had a coworker a number of years ago who allowed the boys in his class to laugh at him quite often (Every blue moon when you all laugh together if fine, I’m talking about mocking you and being disrespectful). One day, they laughed at his head. When one of the boys walked out, one of them called him an expletive. Absolutely unacceptable.
The class was “somewhat” disciplined but this person allowed too much. By the end of the year, if he could have chartered a plane to land on the football field and take him away he would have. He was exhausted, angry and ready to go…and unfortunately, he did.
If you are struggling in this area, it’s okay. We’ve all been there. Just know that no matter how much content you know, how many cute ideas and fun activities you have lining a notebook, how clear your lesson plans are, how many cool apps you have downloaded for them, how much training you had, or how “cool” you are, if your class is not disciplined, nothing, I mean nothing, will work. Whether they admit or not, students respect and love discipline. Real talk.
Relating and discipline are two elements you need balanced to help you rise above the struggle of the classroom. Too many teachers are leaving and not enough are replacing them. I am no better than you, but I truly enjoyed my students. At the end of the year, I was so SAD to see them go. They were truly my babies by the end…no matter how old they were. The hard work of relating and discipline paid off. It will for you too…if you try and stay consistent.
Teach in the Light-
Copyright 2019 The Educator’s Light