Keeping a calm, unruffled temperament makes classroom management easier.
It effectively removes excitability, which is a major cause of misbehavior.
It makes you more likable and worthy of trust.
It gives you leadership presence and allows you to build effortless rapport.
But for many teachers, it’s also easier said than done.
In fact, the harder you try to stay calm, the harder it is.
You see, when you put effort into something that is by nature effortless, it causes more tension and stress, not less.
You become a volcano simmering under the surface. Staying outwardly calm becomes an act of willpower rather than what it should be:
A reflection of how you feel on the inside.
So how do you get there, especially if you’re inclined to react emotionally when things don’t go well in the classroom?
Well, one proven method is to visualize yourself staying calm in stressful situations.
Here’s how it works:
Take a few minutes to jot down the times and situations during the school day that cause you stress.
Is it when your class becomes loud during group work? Is it when you notice misbehavior while giving instruction? Is it when a particular student tries to argue with you?
Be as specific as you can.
Now, before school begins each morning, sit quietly with your list and visualize yourself handling those moments calmly and successfully.
See yourself enforcing consequences with equanimity. See yourself following through, reteaching, modeling, and setting expectations with composure and confidence.
See yourself enjoying your job.
It’s important to point out that everyone visualizes a bit differently. Some people see images flashing before them. Others see moving pictures, which can range from perfectly clear to blurry and herky-jerky.
They’re all equally valid and effective.
I recommend spending two or three minutes each morning visualizing the more stressful moments of your day. However, you can also include lessons, stories, and activities.
You’ll discover that you can visualize a lot in a very short period of time. Fast motion is good.
Even if you have only thirty seconds before your students arrive, it’s worth closing your eyes, taking a deep breath, and watching your best self successfully managing your day, Charlie Chaplin style.
A great way to finish your visualization is to conjure up an outrageously—even comically—stressful situation, like a troop of Howler monkeys swinging through your door and windows, and then watching yourself handling it with aplomb.
It sounds silly, but it works.
Visualization has been shown to be nearly as effective as actual practice. And because you’re able to do it over and over again in a short period of time, it’s remarkably efficient.
The best part, though, is that once you do your visualization for the day, you’re done. You don’t have to think about it afterward or struggle trying to make it come true.
You’ll find yourself naturally handling things with grace and poise. You’ll feel more prepared and confident and less hesitant.
You’ll be calmer on the inside.
Where it counts.
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