After nine years of writing this blog and connecting with teachers all over the world, not much surprises me.
I’ve heard just about every behavior issue and classroom management struggle under the sun.
Many, ten times over.
But there is one thing that still flabbergasts me.
It’s the scores of teachers who have lost control of their class but continue to plow forward.
They continue to earnestly deliver their lessons despite the chaos, inattentiveness, and malaise surrounding them.
For me, it begs the question:
Why don’t they just stop everything and start over?
Why don’t they reestablish—or establish for the first time—behavior expectations that protect learning and free them to teach?
Why don’t they adopt an effective classroom management plan and commit to it fully?
Well, after coaching hundreds of teachers over the past couple of years, and asking this very question, I now know the answer: It’s because they don’t realize they’ve lost control.
They’ve grown so accustomed to disorder, so used to a culture of indifference and disrespect, that they don’t notice it anymore.
They’ve come to accept that it’s just part of the job.
Well, it’s not. At least, it doesn’t have to be. So, in light of this truth, I’ve compiled the five most common signs you’ve lost control of your class.
And thus need to begin again right now.
1. You talk over your students.
If you feel you have no choice but to give instruction while your students are talking (because of the time and trouble it takes to get them quiet), then you have very little influence over their behavior.
The result is that every area of learning is profoundly and negatively affected. Further, by continuing the practice, you’re encouraging more and more misbehavior.
2. You remind and repeat.
If you find yourself repeating much of what you say, and reminding your studentsagain and again about the same things, then you’ve effectively trained them to tune you out.
You’ve communicated loud and clear that you don’t mean what you say, which alwaysleads to misbehavior and unruliness.
3. You have a poor relationship with your students.
If your students argue with you, if they complain and challenge your policies and instruction, it’s definitive proof that they’re unhappy with you and how you’re running the classroom.
It’s their way of telling you that you’re methods are unfair, arbitrary, inconsistent, and too personal. The result is not only more misbehavior, but a strong desire to push your buttons and act up behind your back.
4. You work harder than your students.
If you rush around with the weight of the world on your shoulders and your students gad about, laughing and lounging without a care in the world, then the proper balance of responsibility is way out of whack.
In well-run, well-behaved classrooms, the teacher focuses on delivering great lessons while the burden of listening and learning falls in toto onto the shoulders of students.
5. You struggle to get their attention.
If you ask for quiet and are all but ignored, if you count down from ten and shush and plead, then your students don’t see you as a leader and authority they respect and admire.
Asking for and receiving silent attention is an accurate barometer of your overall effectiveness and another glaring sign that you must start over from scratch.
The Big Lie
The notion that stress and frustration are just part of the job is a lie.
You don’t have to work in chaos or put up with disrespect and unruly behavior, no matter where you work or who is on your roster. You don’t have to stay late after school or be a martyr for your students.
You don’t have to put on a good face and try to convince yourself that you really do like teaching.
But you do need to recognize when it—the whole enchilada—isn’t working. You need to recognize the signs telling you that continuing down the same road is a fool’s errand.
So you can gather up your courage, commit to an approach that lays waste all the myths and falsehoods . . .
And begin anew.
PS – The Smart Classroom Management Plan for Elementary Teachers e-guide will be available for download on May 8th.