A calm disposition can sweep excitability right out of your classroom.
It can improve listening and attentiveness. It can curb misbehavior and accelerate maturity.
It can also make you a more effective teacher.
But inevitably, whenever I write about its importance, the question of enthusiasm comes up.
“How can I remain calm while at the same time show enthusiasm?”
Well, a couple things.
First, it’s important to point out that they’re not mutually exclusive.
Calmness, of the kind that permeates the classroom and rubs off on students, is more of an inward feeling than an outward appearance.
So even if you’re acting out a funny story, as long as you’re relaxed on the inside, your students will take it in stride.
They’ll enjoy it and laugh along with you.
It won’t wind them up or cause misbehavior, especially if you’ve established consistency in following your classroom management plan.
Second, while being calm internally is always good, there are times when it’s best to be enthusiastic and times when it’s best to be reserved.
And herein lies the confusion.
Calmness is a state of mind and body that accompanies the effective teacher from morning bell to dismissal, whereas enthusiasm and reserve trade off throughout the day.
To be most effective, you’ll want to save your enthusiasm for directed lessons.
So when you step before your students to teach a particular objective, you’re free to let it fly. You’re free to perform and inspire to your heart’s content.
You’re free to use your passion to captivate, delight, and pull your students mind, body, and soul into your lesson.
But the moment you transition to giving directions or providing information, it’s best to draw down your energy.
It’s best to stand in one place, slow your breathing, and limit your movements. Talk in a softer voice and focus on clarity and accuracy. Provide only the essential details needed to do the work, fulfill the objective, or perform the routine successfully.
While the former captures interest, the latter narrows your students’ focus on what they need to do.
Many teachers get this backward.
They clap and exhort and bounce around the room trying to coax students into doing what they want, including behave, but then all but fall asleep during directed teaching.
They drone on and on and repeat themselves again and again. They flatten their voice and deaden their personality. They lose their spirit.
But they plow on ahead, never noticing that their students are wilting, nodding off, or turning their attention to more interesting pursuits—like misbehavior.
Exceptional teaching demands that you maintain a calm disposition throughout the day, which not only eliminates excitability but sets in motion many other wonderful benefits.
It also demands that you know when to show enthusiasm and when to be reserved.
Get these right, and your teaching will be infinitely more effective. Your students will be happier and less inclined to misbehave.
And there will be peace in your kingdom.
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