It is almost scary how much power teachers have in their students' lives. Teachers have the power to make a child's life miserable or joyous. A teacher's mood can set the tone for the day. So, know your power and your value every day.
Know your standards, teach them, and apply them equally-If you have an expectation, insist it is followed by all students. This is easier said than done. We all have an expectation of how students should enter the building. But time after time, we see teachers "let stuff slide" Why? there are as many reasons as there are students; "I'm too tired to deal with it." "His parents might get angry." "He is really a good kid, he didn't mean to do it." "She kinda followed the rule" and on and on. IF your expectation is for students to enter and take off their hats, then teach it, and insist on it.
Be kind but firm-You do not have to be mean, in fact it detracts from presence. Students can sense if a teacher has presence, because it is a level of confidence a teacher has about himself that says, "I know what I am doing, I can handle any challenge, and I won't settle for less." If you are married, think back to when you were dating, remember the men or women that looked as though they were confident? but in just a few hours you could tell, they were covering up a deep insecurity? Students are same. Once you start yelling or when you give up . . . they know. And once they know, it is on and crackin'
Cultivate your presence-3 Must Dos
Be prepared for your academic and behavioral lessons-Know your material, prepare your lessons well. This is usually not the problem for new teachers. But once we get a few years under our belt, we think we can wing it, fly by the seat of our pants.
Don't do it! Read over your lesson plans in the morning. Know your objective-what do you want the students to be able to know and do? Be prepared to reteach a procedure if needed. If the students don't begin the morning work the way it was taught, then review the expectations, have students model and practice it. It takes only a few minutes and saves hours.
Be excited or at least pleasant-It is surprising how just saying to students, "We are going to play a game!" gets them to buy in to the lesson. It is so much more interesting than, "Open to page 73."
Smile at them, vary your voice tone, make a joke, let them see you like them and your job.
Look the part-OK I know clothes don't make the man or woman, but don't wear ripped jeans and flip flops. I am not saying that there are not teachers out there who dress very casually and still have presence. What I am saying is that when we show up dressed in a way that says our job is important . . .students respond to that. Getting to school just as the bell rings, in our Saturday sweats, gives the impression that our job doesn't really matter to us, and therefore, neither do they!
As a classroom management consultant and obsessive observer, the biggest challenge I see is how to teach teachers to have presence. It seems invisible, but it is not. The more I coach teachers, and the more I observe students, I see that it can be seen, taught, learned and practiced. If you are struggling with management, evaluate your presence, try the three Must Dos next week and let me know if things improve.
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