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Be Consistent (Total Teacher Transformation Day 9)

This is an article in the Total Teacher Transformation series. Click here for a complete table of contents.

1071784_hand_in_handWhen I was a new teacher, I had some really good classroom rules and expectations and consequences all lined up. It was good on paper. Unfortunately, I didn’t follow through consistently at all. If one of the “bad kids” did something out of line, WHAM, I was all over his misbehavior in an instant. If on the other hand, one of the “good kids” did the exact same thing, the one consequence was a smile and warning not to do it again.

Human nature seems to lead us to pick favorites in our classes. These are the kids whose misbehavior we call “cute”. We also tend to have nemeses: kids whom we see as being out to get us. They may have a history of misbehavior in our class, but a lot of the misbehaviors are simply because the wrong kid did them. If our little angel did the same thing, we wouldn’t remember it so clearly.

Enter consistency
One of the quicket ways to circumvent these types of situations is to equally dish out the punishment for both “good kids” and “bad kids.” When we are seen as consistent, the students begin to respect us more, and they begin to feel safer. Education professors all around the world will tell us that the students need to feel safe in order to thrive. I’m not sure that I agree, but it definitely can do wonders for regaining control and respect.

Today’s assignment
Go back in your notebook and see if you can find some patterns of inconsistency. If not, then you are either an amazing teacher already, or else you need to be taking better notes! For the rest of this project, I want you to be more aware of the inconsistencies you notice in your own teaching. Aim to get rid of them. The best way to do it is to treat every “good kid” the way you would treat the “bad kid” in the same situation. Or treat the “bad kids” the same way you would treat the “good kids.”

When you can joke with a “bad kids” just as easily as you do with a “good kid,” you might find that they soften up and begin to behave better with little else!

Joel Wagner
Joel Wagner (<strong><a href="">@sywtt</a></strong>) began teaching band in 2002. Though he had a lot of information, his classes were out of control. He found himself tired, frustrated, disrespected by students, lonely, and on the brink of quitting. He had had enough. He resigned from his school district right before spring break of his second year and made it his personal mission to learn to be a great teacher. <strong><a href="">So You Want To Teach?</a></strong> is the ongoing story of that quest for educational excellence.

4 thoughts on “Be Consistent (Total Teacher Transformation Day 9)

  1. Not answering your question, but a hint: it’s easier to be consistent if you have a SMALLER number of classroom rules and policies.

  2. At the very beginning of this year, I started out being very consistent. Then one afternoon a student shouted out & I reprimanded him by telling him that it was not okay to shout out and that his behavior then sets off other students to begin shouting out as well. His mom happened to be walking down the hall and we had to have a meeting that afternoon. She basically told me that I didn’t know what I was doing and that maybe that kind of behavior was okay when teaching students with special needs, but not kids in the ge class setting. This was the beginning of the end for me and since that day I have been so self conscious about correcting behavior or following through with contingencies for fear of what the parents will say/do.

  3. Kandiapple, I think you let fear get the best of you and that has helped contribute to some of your problems this year. He was wrong to shout out. You were right to correct him. If she has any further complaints, suggest a parent-teacher conference and invite your principal to sit in on it. Refuse to meet with her apart from having the principal (or another administrator or counselor you trust) present.

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