Cultivating 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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