Why It’s Okay To Be Weird

Smart Classroom Management: Why It's Okay To Be WeirdHere at SCM, we’ve talked a lot about the importance of maintaining a calm disposition.

It is, without a doubt, the most effective way to keep misbehavior-causing excitability out of your classroom.

But it’s also caused some confusion among SCM readers.

You see, staying calm doesn’t mean you must button up your personality.

It doesn’t mean you must dampen your enthusiasm or become a robot when you step in front of your students.

In fact, you’ll do well to do the opposite.

Each of us is unique—our sense of humor, our voice, our walk, our expressions, our dance moves.

We’re uncommon and peculiar. We’re idiosyncratic and quirky.

We’re, um . . . weird.

And the more we embrace our weirdness, the more effective we’ll be.

Here’s why:

1. Weird is interesting.

When you’re uptight, stoic, and over-controlled, you come across as boring and far less interesting than when you’re true to who you really are.

Students are drawn to uniqueness, to teachers who are unabashedly themselves. They want to be around them, learn from them, and follow where they lead.

And when students are drawn to you and desire to be around you and get to know you better, building rapport and influential relationships becomes effortless and less time-consuming.

2. Weird is inspiring.

The way you talk, move, smile, laugh, tell stories, and express yourself brings life to your classroom.

There is no passion in trying to be someone you’re not. You can fake it, but there will always be something missing. There will always be a disconnect.

It doesn’t matter if you’re outgoing or more on the quiet, reserved side, you’ll never be more inspirational than when you’re in the present moment and being who you really are.

3. Weird is genuine.

Students don’t trust teachers who put on a show of perfection in their demeanor, manner, tone, and style. Besides being bland and standoffish, it feels dishonest—unmistakably so.

It feels phony and manufactured, like you’re trying to pull the wool over their eyes. It’s also stressful and impossible to maintain without losing your composure.

Although there is nothing wrong with striving to do your best and be at your best, the genuine article will always represent your most comfortable and effective self.

Just Be You

It’s not uncommon for bright, funny, lovely people to change drastically the moment the morning bell rings.

It’s almost as if the light winks out and a cold perfectionist takes its place.

Although it may help keep a lid on an out-of-control class—along with yelling and scolding—it makes creating a happy and well-behaved learning environment all but impossible.

Just being you, on the other hand, embracing your weird and wonderful self, unapologetically, is your greatest strength.

Introverted or extroverted, storyteller or comedian, gentle motivator or bundle of energy.

Just be you.

No one does it better.

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18 Responses to Why It’s Okay To Be Weird

  1. Nathan Jacobson January 6, 2018 at 8:40 am #

    Ms. Frizzle is an excellent, albeit fictitious, example of the endearing quality of weirdness and simply being your unique self!

    Thanks for this much needed reminder!

    • Michael Linsin January 7, 2018 at 11:13 am #

      You’re welcome, Nathan!

  2. Bobbi Blanzy January 6, 2018 at 10:21 am #

    After 100 years in the classroom, I’m so glad to find out I’ve been doing it “right” all along!

  3. Deanna January 6, 2018 at 10:21 am #

    One of my favorite things is to “walk new ways” when I am spending a lot of time moving around the classroom. A hand goes up, I made eye contact, smile (always smile) and start towards the student–long strides, skipping, tip-toe, baby step shuffle. It helps us both smile, and is a pretty good exercise program, too.

    • kerry January 12, 2018 at 11:25 am #

      love this playful approach, deanna!

  4. Diane Dennis January 6, 2018 at 11:34 am #

    Another teacher described me as Ms. Frizzle! I thought it somewhat unbecoming! After reading your article, however, I can see that it really was a compliment. Embracing my weirdness in a new and wonderful way.

  5. Stephanie Edgren January 6, 2018 at 3:22 pm #

    I am a bit weird, animated as I talk with my hands, and almost always moving about the room and teaching from various areas of the room. Sometimes I worry that I’m not like the teacher next door or down the hall and other times I’m totally OK with my style. Thanks for the timely and much needed reminder that it is OK to be me! :-).

    • Michael Linsin January 7, 2018 at 11:15 am #

      You’re welcome, Stephanie. Never a need to worry. 🙂

  6. Chris January 6, 2018 at 6:51 pm #

    This made me think pf the TV teacher Mr. Kotter, from the 1970s show Welcome Back, Kotter. I just watched the episode “Kotter and Son” yesterday. Kotter creatively teaches his difficult students about the Great Depression by acting out, in about 2 minutes or so, a series of radio announcements that illustrate the main causes and issues of that time. Then, he checks for understanding with a series of questions that show that his students essentially understand.

    You also made me think of the book Disrupting the Disruptors by Dr. Gib Binnington, a hilarious collection of anecdotes by teachers who, after establishing rapport (termed”woofing”), successfully used their quirkiness to throw off and redirect habitually difficult students. It’s inspiring and reassuring that we’re doing it right with our unique wackiness–as are you!

    A personal illustration of how I use my “weirdness” in the classroom (which I describe as a sense of fun), is when just before the holidays, my preschool and Kindergarten students (I’m a specialist and teach multiple grades) brought stuffed animals to school on Pajama Day. I told them the stuffed animals could receive warnings and consequences just like they could (which some of them did), and that we would have to teach them the classroom rules. It surprised and delighted them and reinforced that the rules are for everyone and do not change. What could have been a more disruptive day had instead that “Fun Factor” I was searching for for that last day of class!

  7. Lydia Wagner January 7, 2018 at 11:27 am #

    I am just starting my new job (first in full-time education) as a computer lab aid, and, unfortunately, I don’t get a lot of face time with the students because they spend all of their time in front of the screen. I see every student in K-5 at least once a week. I feel like I was able to show my fun personality when I was a sub, but now I feel subdued because I just don’t interact with the students very much. Any hints on how to create a relationship with all the kids (not just the ones that need my ‘special attention’)?

    • Michael Linsin January 7, 2018 at 3:52 pm #

      Hi Lydia,

      The book Classroom Management for Art, Music, and PE Teachers was written for all specialists, not just those mentioned in the title. It covers relationships as well as anything and everything else you need to manage your classroom.

  8. Renee Stewart January 7, 2018 at 1:28 pm #

    Hi Micheal,
    This really resonates with me. I am new to the teaching game, having my family at a young age, I decided late in life to become a teacher and at 42 I have only been teaching for 5 years.
    Consequently I bring a whole lot of other experiences to this career and I couldn’t hide my personality if I tried.
    I often share stories abs make jokes and the kids really respond positively to this. I totally agree that being yourself is the best way to go!
    Thank you for your words of wisdom I have shared your emails with other young teachers and I really enjoy reading your advice and ideas.
    Renee 🙂

    • Michael Linsin January 7, 2018 at 3:49 pm #

      Thanks Renee!

  9. Karen January 7, 2018 at 3:25 pm #

    Thank you for this article. I’m weird and I’m proud.

    • Michael Linsin January 7, 2018 at 3:48 pm #

      You’re welcome, Karen. Me too!

  10. Margaret January 8, 2018 at 7:11 am #

    Thank you for this. This is me to a T. I realize sometimes how weird I am and think what would I have done with a teacher like me, but I feel, this is one of the things that has helped me stay in this field for 30 years. I am awfully bad a consistency, so this is one of the articles I am finally doing that I thought was wrong, but thanks for saying it is helpful. I know my students have also trusted me and know I have their best interest at heart.

    • Michael Linsin January 8, 2018 at 9:29 am #

      You’re welcome, Margaret.

  11. Rachel January 11, 2018 at 3:48 pm #

    Hello, Michaell,
    I’m what you might call an old fogey who firmly believes that nuances and connotations, as conveyed in words, are very important. I would have preferred the words unique, original, creative, one-of-a-kind or something along those lines to describe a teacher who uses the approach you’re advocating in this article. I, too, believe that a fresh, original, personalized, fun and funny approach to reaching students is amazingly effective, but I still feel that “weird” is not how students need to be describing a teacher or how a teacher should be describing her/himself. I know many educators out there will say, “Oh, c’mon, get with the program,” but getting on board the get-with-the-program thing without regard to one’s personal intuition is not always a good thing.
    Thanks for your phenomenal articles, Michael. I’ve picked up a great number of effective tips from them.

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