I just read You Can’t Make Me [But I Can Be Persuaded] by Cynthia Ulrich Tobias. The book is meant to help parents deal with strong-willed children but I see all sorts of applications for teachers within these pages.
Tobias notes that parents often make mistakes. I know teachers sometimes say or do things they wish they could take back too. But there’s hope. The author lets us know that we do not have to apologize for the outcomes we desire such as self-discipline, good manners, personal responsibility. What she does say is that we cannot have a single-minded approach on how those outcomes should be met.
People think and work differently. Our students are the same way.
Here are a few things she suggests in this book. I have slightly adapted these ideas to apply to classroom settings. I hope you will find them useful.
1. Start leaving notes
Point out what you like an appreciate about your students. Thank them for something. Give praise for a good idea. Even a quick sticky note placed on a desk can speak volumes.
2. Don’t insist things be done your way
Explain the outcomes you are trying to achieve and let your students know that you are open to other suggestions for achieving the same goal.
3. Don’t let a student make you angry
Some students may rant and rave about your class or their mark. They may say that there is no hope; that they can’t possibly pass the class. They may say that you are a horrible teacher. Don’t believe them. Your students just want to know that you won’t give up on them.
4. Be consistent
Students like to look for chinks in your armor. Try to be consistent with your rules, expectations, and attitude when it comes to learning in the classroom.
The above strategies are great. I have never tried the sticky note one, but I plan to in the future. It really wouldn’t take much time or effort and it would let our students know that we see them. Number three will be difficult at times, but we need to some the students that we are professionals. We won’t get angry, but we will hold them responsible and won’t tolerate anyone or anything that interrupts their learning and potential.
Most teaching strategies come with an expiration date, but not one you can see coming. They work well for a while, but then they seem to lose their initial effectiveness. This is normal. You might need to retire that strategy for the semester or even the rest of the school year. But don’t throw it out completely. Tuck it away to use with another class in the future. After a period of time, a good strategy will work again and a different one will take a break for a while.
Teaching Tips – inspiration and ideas from my books and personal experience
My List of 2018 Reads – novels, music-related, and teaching-related books for you to check out.