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