“Let us rise up with a greater readiness. Let us stand with a greater determination and let us move on in these powerful days, these days of challenge, to make America what it ought to be. We have the opportunity to make America a better nation.”
– Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
I’ve Been to the Mountaintop- his final speech
In my own strength I do not believe I am capable of affecting the kind of change and having the kind of influence to impact the students in my classroom to the degree even I would desire, let alone what is expected of me from others. In my best efforts, I will still fall short. Where I fall short, however, God’s grace affects change, influences and impacts in ways not seen, measured or regarded as significant to the view of others. Part of what I have noticed that has contributed to my success as a classroom teacher is understanding and accepting the reality I was not going to win every battle that erupted in my classroom in a power struggle with power behavior, but if I consistently worked at it I would win the war.
I learned to share with my professional colleagues during the Cooperative Discipline workshops, inspired by author Dr. Linda Albert, that we had to determine what was more important, the every day battle, or the war. Also too, I had to discover what the war was to me if I was going to fight effectively to win it. The war to me is my ability to consistently influence my students to become consistent, productive and successful in mastering self-efficacy. This required something of me in how I choose to interact with my students day-to-day in speech, conduct, attitude and actions. It also opens the door for the allowance of misbehavior, because understanding students choose their behavior, I no longer sought to control how they behave, but to put them in charge of themselves to behave. Since I, as the classroom teacher, have no responsibility in the choices students make, then I can use my personal power to inspire them to want to behave by being consistent in the use of encouragement strategies and consequences for misconduct. It is no longer about punishing them, because my ultimate goal should be to help them feel capable, connected and contributing.
Punishment usually is associated with humiliation, or making them feel bad about what they did. If I can’t control them, can I make them feel bad? If I think more along the lines of consequences, I will think solely about the deed and remain supportive in how I can remain connected to the doer so they will choose to give me consistently, or grow do this, what will make them feel capable, connected and contributing in my classroom. As I become better, more proficient, at managing my classroom and maintaining order there will be a direct impact on how the students conduct themselves and develop self-efficacy. If I don’t expect them to be capable, or reinforce consistently my expectation for them to master self-efficacy, they will be what they will be.
Dr. King had faith that moved America from one place to another. As a Christian educator, do I believe I have access to God to make such a movement occur within my classroom as Dr. King influenced a nation? It will require me to influence buy-in from my students (hands-joined classroom management approach) using consistent strategies of corrective, supportive and preventive measures. Corrective-what do I do when students misbehave? Supportive-what can I do to encourage students to behave? Preventive-what do I do to influence the ‘good student’ to continue behaving?
During a recent Cooperative Discipline workshop, participants stated that when I modeled the hands-joined classroom management style I sounded confident, caring and it made them feel as if I was in command without sounding or acting as an authoritarian. It was an authoritative voice without acting like I desired to control them. The bible said often when Jesus spoke He sounded as one who was speaking with authority. Cooperative Discipline is teaching me how to be a conductor, or a facilitator and less of a drill sergeant.
May God bless you and help you to progress in the management of your classroom to maintain order and grant you favor in promoting student self-efficacy as you teach, influence and inspire learning.