Photo by ecastro flickr.com
Disturbed by nightmarish anxiety, it might have been a mild form of PTSD, I woke from a dream realizing that I was once again a fresh, idealistic teacher confronted by a mob of snotty, bratty, uncooperative students. It did not matter that it never really happened exactly that way, this was my perception. In the vision, I was forced to start the first class of the year in an octagonal-shaped room, which I mentally noted was probably the catalyst for the surly mood of those students. Anything so unconventional or novel in setting can destabilize standard protocols. Once again, I felt the rush of stressful adrenaline, as my fright or flight impulse responded to a mix of bombardments from students who could care less about school and me. I just wanted to be “nice” and expected compliant, eager to learn pupils in Social Studies.
Many teachers are probably still feeling this distress, and may not have the solutions that I found to be most useful when confronted by aggressive, non-cooperative, and unmotivated students. Knowing that there are great resources, I thought that this would be a good time to share my tips.
My next realization upon rising, was to reflect on what I could have done better. I suppose reflection has become a habit after so many years and lessons, and I mentally corrected my response to the situation.
With the aplomb of Cruella de Vil, I politely and somewhat sinisterly responded to the student apparitions, “Well, we are going to have fun this year!” Spoken with such confidence to mean, “You can’t show me anything I don’t already know,” and I leave them wondering why I am not intimidated by them. I do not implore their attention, I expect it. I earn it, because our class is so awesome, so relevant, so engaging. It is as if I said to them convincingly, “You will see, you will see!”
And so I reveal to you in order of my preference, the three most outstanding, life preserving books chock full of strategies and wisdom for teachers who could use a boost of life force in classroom management.
Fred Jones—Tools For Teaching
Richard L. Curwin, Allen N. Mendler, Brian D. Mendler—Discipline With Dignity: New Challenges, New Solutions
Harry K. Wong, Rosemary T. Wong—The First Days of School
It’s a good time of year to try something new, shake it up, keep students guessing what new spark of novelty you bring to your class. It can take a multitude of forms, but the point is to do something new! Celebrate your class community. Make it reflect the best aspirations because everyone wants to belong and be a part of something significant and productive.