I thought long and hard about the title of this blogpost. My first thought was, “I hate the phrase ‘classroom management’. That seemed too harsh. So I dialed it back a hair.
Stand back for a big announcement later in this paragraph. I was a middle school teacher for 16 years. Middle school, grades 6, 7, 8. Kids that were 12, 13, 14 years old. Earlier this week, we met with the staff at our middle school to talk about construction plans. I mentioned that when I was a middle school teacher, and I was out and about, I would tell people that I was a teacher. They usually found this charming and inspirational. Then I told them I taught middle school kids. And they usually expressed some form of horror and pity. Cracked me up everytime. Here’s the big announcement. Not intended to be bragging, but it is a fact. In 16 years as a middle school teacher, I sent one referral to the office. It wasn’t that my classes were perfect, that I didn’t ‘lose it’ sometimes, that kids behaved like little angels all time. Of course not. The kids were good, typical, middle school kids. Nope, it was that my ‘classroom management’ strategy entirely consisted of treating the kids with respect, having a sense of humor, laughing with the kids. We all knew that we all cared about each other, and when I was having a bad day, they graced me the time and space to do so. As I did for them. And that lasted for 16 years. I learned that being myself in the classroom was my best tool.
The words ‘classroom management’, in my opinion, are too cold. A teacher is not ‘managing a classroom’. He/she is working everyday, with kids. Human beings. Period. ‘Classroom management’ too often connotes ‘discipline’. Rules. Regulations. I think we make it too hard sometimes, as teachers. Treat the kids as you would want your own kids to be treated is a pretty good guideline.
By the way the teacher in the picture is a former student of mine at our middle school. And every teacher who has former students return to be colleagues knows what a thrill it is to see them in action, in the trenches, working with kids. That’s what I get when I cruise through her classroom! Smiling, laughing, respecting, and loving on kids.
Works every time.