“Better a patient man than a warrior, a man who controls his temper than one who takes a city.” – Proverbs 16:32 NIV
By my 3rd year as an educator anger was the means by which I sought to manage the classroom. I was impatient, critical and argumentative. I prided myself in arguing with my students, yelled, broke yardsticks and, looking back, ashamed of who I was as an educator. Wisdom got a hold of me and the still small voice of my Heavenly Father spoke to me saying, ‘If you believe you’re right in arguing with them, then why are you arguing?’ Needless to say, I was both humbled and humiliated and regret this season of my life as a professional educator and as a Christian. Much has changed in my disposition and character since 1995 and I have God and a classroom management program Cooperative Discipline to thank for that!
Transitioning into the summer at the conclusion of my 3rd year I knew I could not continue to go in the direction I was headed as a classroom teacher and as a representative of Christ as an educator. During the summer, the classroom management program Cooperative Discipline (by Dr. Linda Alpert) taught me one major principle; ‘Student’s choose their own behavior.’ I felt both liberated and empowered by the understanding that children are always in charge of their behavior and it is my responsibility as the classroom teacher to influence their choices, not make them behave. Because students choose their own behavior, at no time do I have power or the ability to control how they behave or control the choices they make.
From my 4th year as an educator to the present it has been my mission to empower my students to make consistent positive choices to better themselves and contribute positively to the classroom while taking full responsibility for my choices to better influence what happens from day to day in my classroom. As I strive to succeed in managing my classroom and maintaining order I make self-assessment of what I can do and what I expect of my students trying to be clear and consistent, patient and persistent so we can work as allies instead of as adversaries within the classroom. At the end of the day I strive to remain in control of myself understanding at no time do I ever have control of the classroom, but through patience, kindness, firmness and flexibility I can influence and affect positive change that empowers myself and my students to be psoitive and productive consistently. Today I fulfilled my agreement to call a parent for a student who was consistently making wrong choices if she would cooperate and participate in class. By the end of class today I had 4 other students seeking to have me make positive phone calls. One day of full class participation from past days of disorder was worth the time spent making positive contacts with parents!
May God bless you and help you to be a patient person who controls themselves, even in intense stressful moments, and grant you wisdom on how you can influence more and empower your students to manage their own behaviors to allow you more time to teach, influence and inspire learning.