Did you ever see that Scrubs episode with Ted’s morning positive affirmation ritual? “People are laughing WITH you. People are laughing WITH you. People are laughing WITH you.”
Believe it or not, there are some positive affirmations you can use on yourself in order to TALK yourself into being a more effective teacher. If you don’t know what affirmations are, look them up. I ain’t Google. Once you’ve done that, come back and read on. If you know what they are, read on.
As I was saying, there are things you can tell yourself so that you programme/prime your mind into the best state possible to support your everyday job as a teacher. You see, your actions are shaped by your beliefs, which in turn are shaped by your thoughts. You can programme your brain with positive thoughts by telling yourself certain things, which will affect your beliefs and the way you conduct yourself and the way you ultimately behave in the classroom. If you’re not feeling 100%, or if you’re lacking confidence and even experience, set yourself up for the best day by telling yourself these 3 fundamental things. Repeat them 10 times to yourself each day. I’ll explain why each belief is so important.
- This is MY house. This one is the most critical. So many of us look at our timetable and there’s going to be that class that we inevitably dread going in to. Maybe there’s a few individuals in there that you’re struggling with, or maybe it’s the whole class. Either way, here’s one way you can change that feeling of dread and regain confidence (and ultimately control). It’s YOUR classroom. It’s YOUR corridor. It’s YOUR school. THEY are in YOUR house. No one comes into your house and just behaves the way they want. They’re guests and all good guests abide by the rules of the house, otherwise they’re not welcome there. No one ever walks into their house dreading who’s going to be sitting in their living room, because they’re the ones in control of that environment. You MUST feel the same way about your work environment – you are in control. When a student steps into YOUR classroom, they must follow YOUR rules, otherwise they choose to bring sanctions on themselves as a result of their behaviour. You have to be comfortable enough to enforce the rules of the house, and that begins with recognising that it is YOURS.
- I am the adult. I am the authority. So you spent 17 years in formal schooling (at least), became a master in your subject, went through a bunch of life experiences, and suffered through puberty, breakups, bad TV and recurring nightmares about exams to then argue with a bunch of 13 year olds in the name of… what? Fairness? Equality? You, by the nature of your position, are now the authority. You’re no longer a kid. Seriously.. what are you doing arguing with Ella in Year 9? She’s a kid. At her stage in life, she probably doesn’t know any better than what she’s showing you right now. If you’re not going to step into your role as authority, role model, father/mother-figure and wise sage, who else is going to show your students the right path in life? You’re not there to be their friend or their equal. You’re not either of those things – and if you try to be, there’s something wrong with you. You ARE there to be patient through the ups and downs that they present you with and still show them the way to becoming better students and better people. You are one of the main people in their lives whose JOB it is to do that.
- I WILL win. When Ella mouths off in your class and refuses to do anything you tell her, you do not have to play her game and lose it. When Hassan is making smartarse comments and undermining your authority, you don’t have to get drawn into a debate. Your school will have a procedure to follow – i.e. a sanctions ladder – so follow it. To the tee. EVERY time. You do NOT have to respond to each petty comment that’s made, because that’s a waste of your energy and a waste of the time of everyone else who’s depending on you for a fantastic learning experience. It feels so tempting to respond and argue because it can feel embarassing when something like that happens, but remember point number 2? You are the adult. Just calmly follow through on the sanction and follow up with those students later on. Removed from the immediate environment and with enough time having passed, they’ll be more receptive to you later anyway. You don’t have to win there and then, but you WILL win eventually by consistently enforcing high expectations in your classroom and school.
So there you go. Any time you’re feeling less than 100% confident in yourself, repeat those affirmations 10 times each to yourself before your school day starts. Trust me, you’ll feel the difference in yourself.
P.S. If you don’t know who Ted is, here’s a highlight reel 😉 Enjoy.