If you are a teacher that is struggling with classroom management after trying several different approaches, then I am asking that you read this post with an open mind, and more importantly, an open heart. I am going to challenge you to reflect on where the blame lies, and how you feel towards your students when things don’t go right.

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We can all go to Google or Amazon and search for classroom management books that will solve our problems with students not behaving in a way that allows us “get through” a lesson. There are countless systems that will have you giving digital points, physically placing stickers on desks, awarding gaming points, or giving students some prize at the end of a successful day or week.

There are countless systems that will have you giving digital points, physically placing stickers on desks, awarding gaming points, or giving students some prize at the end of a successful day or week.

You may have tried any or all of them, but they have failed in short order. Sure, you see your students respond for a day, or a week, or maybe two weeks, but it won’t take long for your students to realize that the same old problem is still there. It turns out that there is no system that will address that  your students don’t feel that there is a mutual respect.

The cancer that eats away at teachers and leads them to feel like this generation of students is a complete failure is really a perspective issue. We have to respect our students, but more importantly, they have to feel respected. Many teachers were fantastic students. They were the student that would gasp if someone in their class talked back to the teacher or if misbehavior was causing a disruption. The problem is, that the world has gone and change.

Today it is necessary for teachers to get to know their students as whole people, and teachers now have to move themselves from an attitude of positional superiority to one of authoritative equality. This is not an indictment of the teacher as a person, but it does necessitate a significant amount of reflection and a willingness to become humble.

This is not an indictment of the teacher as a person, but it does necessitate a significant amount of reflection and a willingness to become humble.

In order to accomplish this successfully, teachers must carry themselves with humility and dignity. If a student makes a mistake, then we have to stop, check the anger temptation, and address the problem as a learning opportunity for the student. We must allow our students to fail, and we must accept the inevitable failure. Then, from a loving perspective, we have to coach them through appropriate behaviors in the situations that led up to the failure. This will begin the long process of establishing a rapport.

We have to place ourselves in their position, and I mean truly understand where they are coming from. That means that we have to remember what it was like to be a child. We have to remember how it feels to be afraid that you are less than the other people around you, you may feel like everyone is smarter than you are, you may feel like you are lost in a world for which you are not right to be in.

We have to remember how it feels to be afraid that you are less than the other people around you, you may feel like everyone is smarter than you are, you may feel like you are lost in a world for which you are not right to be in.

What was it like to feel like that argument with your friend or girlfriend/boyfriend was going to bring about an absolute end of the opportunity for any happiness in your entire life? What is it like to have little to no autonomy in your life? You don’t get to decide what you do each day, where you live, what you have for dinner, or almost anything that we, the adults, take for granted. If you want to find a management system that works, then you have to see the world from your students’ perspectives.

What was it like to feel like that argument with your friend or girlfriend/boyfriend was going to bring about an absolute end of the opportunity for any happiness in your entire life?

All is not lost, unless you are too proud or too stubborn to correct this single, but significant, barrier to reaching a respectful relationship with your students. There are only reasons to be optimistic if you are willing to consider what you can do differently in addition to what your students should be doing differently. Keep asking yourself if your interactions communicate empathy and mutual respect.

I can think of a time that I found myself getting angry or frustrated with a student. I want to hear about similar experiences you’ve had. Please share a comment about a time that you felt anger and/or frustration about a situation and how you learned to reconcile that feeling with the truth that student mistakes are inevitable and you how you leveraged that insight to improve your classroom.