Professional development days can be a blessing or a curse for a teacher. In the past I’ve had a love/hate relationship with them. Sometimes I leave feeling like I learned something applicable to take back to my classroom. Other I leave with a huge to-do list to take back to my classroom.
Today was a productive PD day that allowed the staff plenty of time to implement what we learned in our classroom. Instead of inspiring great ideas to add to our never ending pile of work, it provided practical ideas and time to work on them.
We learned about managing our classrooms full of students who have been victims of trauma. We made behavior plans for students who are taking away from the class. We even got time to get on the phone and call parents, which usually only happens in spurts at the end of a long day.
My biggest takeaway, however, came from a brief point made by our principal. The nugget came almost as an aside, but it aligns well with the message of Christ-Like Classroom: Have a purpose.
Think about the purpose of interactions you have with misbehaving students. Be intentional about how you go into the conversation and what you want out of it. What purpose does getting mad and yelling at a student serve? We are their examples, and they will just fume right back. Some of those students even go into it with a goal of making you mad. So your purpose becomes not engaging in argument or power struggle with that student.
It’s extremely difficult to accept a student not doing what you directed him or her to do. I used to think of it as setting a bad precedent to not allow a student to follow an expectation. But if the purpose is to get a student to listen to you, he or she will not comply just because your voice is louder. Try to allow breathing time and then come back to the student with a calmer tone. Sometimes all these students hear at home is yelling; they are so used to it they don’t respond. Having a calmer tone in a difficult situation can get a quicker, easier and more purposeful result.
Sure, this is easy to say. Doing it in the heat of the moment is something I still struggle with. I’ve gotten better, though, as I’ve become more intentional. Right now there are only a couple students who push my buttons. If I keep working on it, eventually when they push those buttons, they won’t get what they want. And if you keep pressing a button without the desired outcome, eventually you realize it just doesn’t work and stop pushing it. So if you’re having a hard time figuring out a purpose to interactions with these students, how about working toward breaking those buttons?