The One Thing You Must Do To Avoid Stress And Improve Behavior

Smart Classroom Management: The One Thing You Must Do To Avoid Stress And Improve BehaviorCultivating a calm disposition will make you a better teacher.

It will also improve classroom management.

Because students respect it. They’re drawn to it and admire it.

Perhaps more than any other trait.

It gives you a natural leadership presence and an effortless ability to build rapport.

Because of its importance, I’ve written a lot about this topic over the years.

But I haven’t shared with you what may be the simplest way to attain it.

It’s a strategy that also happens to be a core principle here at SCM.

It involves what you don’t do—or shouldn’t do—that has the dual effect of improving behavior and making you feel at peace on the inside.

Just thinking about it will soften your muscles, deepen your breathing, and put a smile on your face.

Once you make the commitment to no longer do this one thing, a grand piano will slide off your back.

How do I know?

Because every one of the hundreds of teachers I’ve given this advice to—through my coaching practice and personal mentoring—has experienced a dramatic decrease in stress.

It’s a strategy I’ve written about before on this website, although the focus was on its behavior-improving benefits.

It’s such an important piece of the classroom management puzzle that it’s often the first thing I say to my coaching clients.

If not for this strategy, I don’t think I could have become a teacher—or stayed one for long.

So what is it?

It’s to never again try to convince students to behave.

It’s to refrain from pulling them aside for lectures, pep-talks, and counseling sessions. It’s to stop glaring, manipulating, cajoling, or pleading.

It’s to stop trying to come up with the perfect words to get them to make better decisions.

Not only are these methods ineffective, and highly stressful to students, but they also make behavior worse.

You see, all that extra attention communicates to students just how much their behavior means to you, which effectively shifts the leverage and control in the relationship over to them.

It tells them that they have the power to get under your skin, that their behavior means more to you than it does to them.

It can also create friction and animosity. It can damage your likeability and make your relationship awkward and uncomfortable.

So what should you do instead?

You let your classroom management plan do the heavy lifting for you. You rely on it exclusively. You fulfill your promise to follow it exactly as it’s written.

So when a student misbehaves, you can calmly enforce the agreed-upon consequence and walk away.

You can leave them alone with their thoughts. You can give them a chance to reflect on their misbehavior and take responsibility for it all on their own and without your two-cents.

You can let accountability do its good work.

This is far more powerful and enduring than telling them what they should think and how they should feel about their mistakes and transgressions.

It ensures that 100% of responsibility falls on them, where it belongs. No more arguing or finger-pointing. No more blaming you or quietly seething in anger at you.

By refusing to engage in power struggles, coaxing, flattery, scolding, trickery, bribery, and the like, and simply allowing your classroom management plan to fulfill its purpose, in one fell swoop you’ll change the entire energy and mood of your classroom.

You’ll secure a more positive relationship with your students. You’ll save time and improve your leadership presence.

You’ll remove one of the primary causes of teacher stress.

Do this one thing and you’ll be a lot happier. You’ll be more fun and likeable and more focused than ever on teaching great lessons.

Your students, in turn, will be more mature and responsible. They’ll have greater motivation to listen and learn.

They’ll develop a strong, intrinsic desire to behave.

Naturally and all on their own.

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12 Responses to The One Thing You Must Do To Avoid Stress And Improve Behavior

  1. Karen Forrest June 24, 2017 at 9:01 am #

    Hi Michael
    I love this post and find it so reassuring that this method has worked for so many individuals. I have also just finished reading your ‘dream class’ book and found it very engaging! I do I have a question though… I teach in secondary school (science) and find that I am unsure what a suitable next consequence after a warning would be for my students. I have tried time outs which work for some, but I sometimes feel that some of my students ‘arent bothered’ about being removed from the lesson/ activity. What would the next step on your classroom management plan be for a situation like mine with older students (11-18) ?
    Much appreciated
    K Forrest

    • Michael Linsin June 24, 2017 at 9:48 am #

      Hi Karen,

      I recommend a different classroom management plan for upper middle and high school students, which you can find here.


  2. Charles June 25, 2017 at 1:12 am #

    Hi Michael,
    I teach in a school in Nigeria where the level of indiscipline of the students is very high. Having a desirable classroom management is very difficult.
    Following your suggestions on classroom management has been very helpful to me. Please is there any link I can post on the Whatsapp page of the teachers in my school so that they can also be benefiting from your wealth of experience on classroom management.
    Charles Olusanya
    Abuja Nigeria

    • Michael Linsin June 25, 2017 at 7:55 am #

      Hi Charles,

      I’m so glad the website has been helpful. If you want to post a link, I think the homepage would be the best option.


  3. Rick June 30, 2017 at 7:44 am #

    Hey Michael,
    I’m just finished my first year teaching. I fully agree with the no scolding, convincing, pull aside chats and so on. However, I am curious if you feel there is ever an appropriate circumstance to have one-on-one chat with a student who is struggling behaviorally to figure out where they are coming from. If so, under what circumstances would you do this?

    • Michael Linsin June 30, 2017 at 3:46 pm #

      Hi Rick,

      This is a big topic, but I’ll be sure to cover it in a future article. In fact, it’s already on the list.


      • Rick July 1, 2017 at 7:54 pm #

        Thanks! Much appreciated. I love your stuff. I have been reading your articles every week for most of the school year.

        • Michael Linsin July 2, 2017 at 11:49 am #

          It’s my pleasure, Rick!


  4. Sara July 3, 2017 at 5:29 pm #

    Dear Michael,

    Thank you very much for this post! What if a student who has been used to being cajoled demands/requests it?
    “Why should I study this? How will this help me in life?” Repeatedly. Despite receiving explanation the first time. The same student: “Why should I try to be heathy/exercise? ” “Who needs traffic rules? You can just fight the police if they stop you.” Recently, I started ignoring the repeated questions, as I have explained them already. The student: “Why are you not answering me?” Follows me in recess and asks the same questions. Technically, asking questions are not against our classroom rules, so I cannot hold him responsible. But he is driving me nuts, and setting very bad example for the class. Others have started asking “why?” for self evident matters as well. How do I jump out of this cajoling bandwagon? This is grade 8.
    Just stopping the lecturing/cajoling as you suggest here in the article did not work. He demands answers, and acts as if he feels ignored, unattended as a student. Same 3-4 questions, asked repeatedly. What am I doing wrong?

    • Michael Linsin July 4, 2017 at 2:23 pm #

      Hi Sara,

      I’d need more information about the student, as well as your CM appraoch, relationships with students, etc. before I could provide reliable advice. My sense is that there is more going on, that there are motives behind the questions that you may be unaware of. Thus, the only way to get to the bottom of it would be through personal coaching. (See the link along the menu bar for more info.)


  5. Daw July 6, 2017 at 10:45 am #

    I work at an institution with aggressive students. It is not a public school and our students tend to come from tough backgrounds (poverty, violence, gangs, etc). I understand these students also attend public schools but we have a greater number of students with these backgrounds then I have found at the local public schools. There are times when I let them know what the consequence of their behavior will be and them move on to help another student or continue the lesson. Frequently my students will begin to argue with me and the student will ask over and over again why I enforce rules and that I can’t enforce the rules (which are institutional rules). It’s hard to stay calm when they get aggressive in this way, especially since they are 16-24 year olds. Any suggestions on how to handle this? It seems that asking them to follows simple rules, like not wearing their hoods in class, becomes a dramatic production. Also, I can’t ask them to do simple things like not wear a hoodie as it is a piece of the uniform issued by our organization. I simply want my students to not argue constantly over these little things. I should also mention that I have only been in this position for two months, just in case this is them just testing me. I am just surprised as I would hope the testing would have settled down by now.

    • Michael Linsin July 6, 2017 at 12:12 pm #

      Hi Daw,

      This is a big question that I don’t have the time and space to address here, but we have covered this topic. In fact, the entire SCM approach that addresses your situation. There is a cost involved, but you may be interested in personal coaching.


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