How To Be The Teacher Your Students Need

Smart Classroom Management: How To Be The Teacher Your Students NeedRecently, a teacher asked me to observe her in action.

It didn’t go well.

Her classroom was chaotic. Her students played and goofed off. They yelled and roughhoused.

They wrestled, guffawed, and used language that would make a sailor blush.

They dismissed her and her instruction and did, for the most part, whatever they wanted.

Some even left the room without permission.

I was taken aback—both by the behavior I saw and because I had assumed that if she wanted my opinion, then it couldn’t possibly be that bad.

It was that bad. And then some.

But here’s the kicker: We had talked about classroom management before.

A couple of months ago, she pulled me aside and asked me how to set up a classroom management plan.

Step by step I walked her through the exact method you’ll find right here on the website (here and here).

I also taught her how to teach her plan and put it into practice. I provided the details, the strategies, and the knowledge she needed to do her job well.

But she couldn’t bring herself to actually doing it.

Because, you see, she was paralyzed by fear. She was afraid that if she held her students to a standard of behavior that was required for success in school, then they would rebel.

They would hate her and resent coming to her classroom. They would turn the chaos her room had become into sheer bedlam.

But if you’ve been a regular reader of SCM, then you know that the opposite is true. Consistent accountability is the foundation upon which trust, likability, and influence are built.

It brings peace and respect to the classroom, freeing you to teach and inspire your students to learn and love school.

It also forms a protective hedge against losing your cool and gives you the leverage in the relationship.

Classroom management is knowledge-based. Anyone with the right tools can create the teaching and learning experience they desire. It doesn’t matter where you teach, what grade level, or who shows up on your roster.

We provide these tools for you through our books, guides, and weekly articles. But there is one thing we can’t provide but is critical to your initial success.

It’s a trait that all people possess. It may be dormant. It may be underused. But it’s there waiting to be awakened.

It’s fortitude.

By definition, fortitude is the mental and emotional strength in facing difficulty, adversity, danger, and temptation courageously.

Applied to the classroom, it’s the spirit to overcome your fears and be the leader your students need.

My advice to the teacher I observed that day is to take ‘you’ out of the equation. Turn down the volume on how you feel—your thoughts, worries, anxieties, and what ifs—and turn up the volume on how urgently your students need you.

When you take a moment to consider just how much they’re depending on you—even though they may not realize it until years, even decades, later—finding the fortitude to push through your fears becomes easy.

Your students don’t know what they don’t know.

They don’t know how cruel the world can be to those unprepared for it. They don’t know how skilled and competent and hardworking and disciplined they must be just to make a decent living, let alone pursue their dreams.

They don’t know the competition they’ll face or the overwhelming challenges and obstacles awaiting them. They don’t know that by goofing off and wasting time they’re throwing away one of the greatest gifts they’ll ever receive.

So when you freeze up, when you look the other way, when you bribe and appease and give up and give in, you set them up for failure and crushing disappointment.

Your students need a rescuer, a defender, a role model, a lion, and a champion. They need a hero who will make a stand for them and their future.

They need you to be the leader they don’t know they need.

You are not powerless, nor are you at your students’ mercy. These are lies we tell ourselves to avoid facing our fears.

By shifting your attention to the future men and women who are counting on you to ready them for what lies ahead, it radically changes your perspective.

It aligns you with the truth. It saddles you with the gravity of your role and turns you into the calm but fierce and fearless warrior who will make a difference.

This is your chosen career, after all, and you have but one chance to make an impact on each student that comes into your life.

One opportunity.

Don’t waste it.

PS – I’ll be taking next week off to celebrate Thanksgiving, but will be back on December 3rd with a brand new article.

Also, if you haven’t done so already, please join us. It’s free! Click here and begin receiving new-article updates in your email box every week.


40 Responses to How To Be The Teacher Your Students Need

  1. Samina November 19, 2016 at 8:51 am #

    Thank you. Fantastic post

    • Michael Linsin November 19, 2016 at 3:25 pm #

      Thanks Samina!


  2. Karen November 19, 2016 at 8:56 am #

    This is my 8th grade class and I — Thanks!

    • Michael Linsin November 19, 2016 at 3:26 pm #

      You’re welcome, Karen.


  3. Sheila November 19, 2016 at 9:13 am #

    Love your response to this. As a new teacher in middle school, I, too, was terrified and desperately wanted my students to like me. My classroom became chaotic and a breeding ground for disrespect. Fights broke out in my room. I seriously believed that I couldn’t teach anything and that if anything, I could be an example of good character and kindness hoping my students would follow my lead. A few of them did, and I began to see how unfair the environment was for them. Some of these students rallied to defend me and took it upon themselves to manage the behavior of others: never a good thing. Fortunately your articles saved them. My management plan went into place and relieved these students of the stress and awkwardness of trying to control the class. My good students became great students both in character and content, and my behavior-prone students became less problematic. In fact, I found I had more time to approach and work with those students with behavior problems. I learned to enjoy them as an integral part of my class. Thanks for all your insight.

    • Michael Linsin November 19, 2016 at 3:26 pm #

      You’re welcome, Sheila. Thanks for sharing your story.


    • Permina Peter November 19, 2016 at 6:37 pm #

      Thanks a lot for the wonderful article…I am sure it will help. Kindly share some of the strategies that you tried gor the classroom management. Going through a hell of time with high school students.

    • Laura November 24, 2016 at 7:21 am #

      How did you do it specifically SHeila?

  4. Lorraine November 19, 2016 at 9:26 am #

    A Big thank you Michael, simply super tips for teachers.


    • Michael Linsin November 19, 2016 at 3:27 pm #

      You’re welcome, Lorraine.


  5. Bethany November 19, 2016 at 10:17 am #

    Thanks for the pep talk. I have definitely hit my first slump of the year, struggling, as I think we all do, with staying consistent when you’re worn out and don’t feel like it. I’m also realizing how much my students (new-to-the-advanced-requirements-of-middle-school 7th graders) have no idea how to even think and reason, much less take charge of their own learning. So next week, I’m going to have to back up – again – and re-teach how to read and follow written instructions. It’s disheartening, but I know that lesson is far more important than the information on the quiz they failed. I love teaching them, but the need of training up 30 tweens and growing them in maturity and capability seems like more than is possible for me most days. But by God’s strength (and patience) I will not grow weary while doing good.

    In short, I needed the encouragement right now to stay strong and grounded for my kids. So thank you for the timely reminder, as well as all your helpful advice.

    • Michael Linsin November 19, 2016 at 3:27 pm #

      Hi Bethany,

      I’m glad the article came at the right time.


  6. Diana H Schwab November 19, 2016 at 10:36 am #

    I appreciate and look forward to your articles! Any opinions about the BIST behavior program?

    • Michael Linsin November 19, 2016 at 3:32 pm #

      Hi Diana,

      For the most part it’s a different approach than what we recommend here at SCM. I’ll be sure and write about those differences in future articles.


  7. Melissa November 19, 2016 at 12:13 pm #

    Yes, this is right on time and right on target. Everyone in class has the right to learn- fight for it and protect it. Thank you!

    • Michael Linsin November 19, 2016 at 3:33 pm #

      Glad to hear it, Melissa.


  8. Chris November 19, 2016 at 1:16 pm #

    Excellent advice to instill courage in teachers to do the right thing. It’s about the students, not about us. Love this.

    • Michael Linsin November 19, 2016 at 3:33 pm #

      Thanks Chris!


  9. Sydney Shykowski November 19, 2016 at 5:25 pm #

    As asubatitute, it is hard to enter a class where no plan is in place. Do you have suggestions for that kind of situation?

  10. Sommer November 19, 2016 at 6:05 pm #

    I came across your website this past summer, started off my 16th year in middle school implementing your classroom management plan, and am having the ABSOLUTE BEST year EVER. I taught 7th and 8th grade 10 years ago. After moving to 6th grade 5 years ago, I have definitely felt the swift change of the classroom culture. I knew that there was a “grey” area in my classroom of what I expected and how students acted. I had NO idea that by placing 4 classroom rules on my walls and committing to them that my students would be accepting of such a structured environment. We took several days when we began this year to discuss and act out the rules. Like you suggested, I was the student in the class who misbehaved. They LOVED the role playing. Now three months into the school year, they are comfortable and I rely on a warning to bring only a few of my students back in shape. My assistant principal just observed my class and I had one of the best evaluations I have EVER had. I agree that I have taken myself out of this. I am not nervous or worried about my reason for standing in front of my students. I also refer to my classes as “students” with certain boundaries in the classroom. Kids at home and while hanging out with friends can act differently.
    Thank you for helping me define what I always knew about my classroom and you have erased the “grey” areas for me AND MY STUDENTS. I enjoy being in my classroom, even a MIDDLE SCHOOL classroom.
    What you have taken the time to share is a blessing to teachers who are committed to run a well-oiled machine!

  11. LAOISE November 19, 2016 at 8:15 pm #

    I don’t see my question there. Perhaps because it isn’t exactly relevent to the article. I just wondered how you would deal with the issue of using parents as the third stage in the process when they couldn’t care less how their children behaved in school. Is there a way to get around this issue? Do you call the parents instead? Do you speak to the parents at the beginning of the year? I’ve come across parents who would be only too delighted to undermine a teacher.

  12. Karen November 19, 2016 at 8:38 pm #

    Hey Michael, Thank you so much for this post. I really appreciate your books and posts. Using them, has really helped me and my students.

    • Michael Linsin November 20, 2016 at 11:03 am #

      You’re welcome, Karen.


  13. Mike D. Pickering November 19, 2016 at 9:59 pm #

    Hey there Michael! Our school gives out a monthly group of 3 rewards at an assembly. The rewards are a “People Respecting Others”, a “Most Improved”, and a “Student of the Month” award. We are an elementary school and I teach the only 6th grade class. I thought about coming up with new awards more appropriate for soon-to-be middle schoolers. What are your thoughts? Thank you so much for your time, Mike D. Pickering

    • Michael Linsin November 20, 2016 at 11:07 am #

      Hi Mike,

      I wish I had a quick and easy answer for you, but I would need more time and space than we have here to address your question. I’ll try to include it, however, in a future article.


  14. Gary November 20, 2016 at 5:31 am #

    I came back to school after a 6 week break travelling in America – to hear one teacher angrily berating students to get them to follow simple instructions (and I thought -really?), to hear from leadership that a class was out of control in PE because they did soccer and I was not to do soccer or PE with them, to see and observe that certain difficult kids in two classes had become more difficult and I thought wow, these guys need to hone their management skills. Blaming the kids, blaming sport, yelling. And I know that when I implement your advice these problems go away. I hope the word spreads.

  15. HEB November 20, 2016 at 2:50 pm #

    I am a first year teacher in a school known for “behavior” problems. I’ve had things thrown at me, nasty letters left on my desk, and blatant disrespect. While those behaviors were limited to a handful of students in each class, they have now spread throughout my classes. Things are out of control. I have tried using many great classroom management tips to get things in order. My issue is getting them to listen in the first place! They’ve gotten so bad that they will not countdown with me to get quiet. If they do happen to, they sing when we get to one. Those few really disruptive kids don’t skip a beat, and I’m back to spending my time dealing with them while losing the remainder of class. They talk in the halls despite repeated requests to transition silently. What can I do??? Is it possible to turn things around at this point?

    • Michael Linsin November 20, 2016 at 3:41 pm #

      Hi HEP,

      It is, of course. The comprehensive approach we offer here at SCM will work for you, too. If you’re interested, we also offer personal coaching.


  16. Edward kapoma November 22, 2016 at 1:02 am #

    Thanks a lot for the article. ..It has helped me a lot! !!

    • Michael Linsin November 22, 2016 at 7:55 am #

      Glad to hear it, Edward!


  17. Jason November 22, 2016 at 10:19 pm #

    Hi Michael,

    I’ve been reading many of your articles. I’m a sixth grade teacher and like the approach to discipline that you are endorsing.

    Are you familiar with PBIS? Many school districts in my area are adopting the Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports approach.

    The approach seems to favor giving students choices, individual plans for disruptive students, giving rewards to good students, and catching students being good.

    Can the PBIS approach be joined with your approach or are they on separate ends of the continuum?



    • Michael Linsin November 23, 2016 at 7:27 am #

      Hi Jason,

      They are very different—although we have many teachers who successfully navigate being in such a school by shading toward our approach.


  18. Marwa November 24, 2016 at 5:48 pm #

    I’m really grateful to such a great support that all beginner teachers might need, as it’s so rich and it really works as a good treatment!

  19. Mee November 25, 2016 at 12:52 pm #

    Hi Michael,

    Thank you for your website – your posts are quite helpful. Could your next blog post topic be about the best classroom management tips you can offer for Primary Teachers (Kindergarten – Grade 3) with a rowdy class? I find that your management plan can work well for middle school and high school students, but teaching Primary can be a whole other story! I have looked at your posts about creating a classroom management plan but I can’t seem to find anything relevant to way-younger kids who need help with behaviour/impulse management.


  20. Katharine November 29, 2016 at 10:57 am #

    This is an awesome article. Honestly, you should write a parenting book with the same principals. I homeschool my four children and I find your articles so helpful.

    • Michael Linsin November 29, 2016 at 5:19 pm #

      Thanks Katherine!


  21. Kristin November 30, 2016 at 10:56 am #

    I’m a behavior tech at a elementary school, so am called in when students are being disruptive or not doing their work and at times am removing students from class. I have read your articles and unfortunately where I’m not the teacher, I’m not able to be in control of the classroom management piece in these students classrooms. I feel if they had that in their classes things would be different, but again out of my control. Wondering if you have any thoughts on how I could implement what you say with the small amounts of interaction I have with these students? Look forward to hearing your thoughts!


    • Michael Linsin December 1, 2016 at 9:14 am #

      Hi Kristin,

      This is a topic I’d have to give some thought to. There are many variables at work including the management style of the home teacher. There is a cost involved, but if you’re interested in working through the best approach given the circumstances, you may want to consider personal coaching.