How can you find a balance between maintaining good discipline for optimal learning in the classroom, while you’re still a safe space and a source of comfort for these young ones? They spend a large portion of their time in your care, and this makes it important that they feel a sense of trust and love for you.
Research indicates that children thrive better under firm guidelines and clear boundaries. It may feel challenging to set them for the first time, but they will minimise any conflict later on. The love comes when you manage to set boundaries gently and kindly, but adhere to them with absolute precision. Allow the children to understand that they are valued, recognised, and appreciated. Here are some practical tips to establish that much-needed balance.
A greeting at the door as each child enters acknowledges each individual’s presence and establishes a direct connection with the teacher. There’s also a new approach that allows children to choose – a handshake, a fist bump, or a hug. One teacher reports: “I believe that my friendly greeting helped set the tone for the day. My students felt welcome and safe, the moment they arrived. I feel like this practice also strengthened my relationship with each student”.
If you told students there would be a consequence for missed homework or poor behaviour, follow through with it. At the start of a new school year, you may find yourself having to implement these measures regularly until they establish that the boundaries you have established will remain. While they learn that you truly deliver what you have said you would, they also learn to trust you. Many parents make threats and promises that simply never materialise. This is an opportunity to bring a sense of prectiability into their lives.
One of Mary Poppins’ most notable attributes was her kind-but-firm approach. While it’s just a story, it’s certainly teachable. Kindness during discipline can mean helping a child to work through a state of overwhelm, rather than punishing. For example, a young child that behaves poorly may simply be ill-equipped to handle a situation at hand. A dialogue in a quiet place may resolve this. Start the conversation with something like “I bet it didn’t feel good when you shouted like that, how can we make sure you don’t need to shout/hit again?” Positive approaches to discipline can be extremely challenging, it requires the teacher to stay grounded and unemotional. The research around the importance of positive approaches to discipline is simply overwhelming – you can learn more about how to implement it here.
Teaching is a true calling of passion. The hours are long (even if school hours are only half-day – the job isn’t) and you’re pretty much the unsung heroes of society, raising the next generation. The vast majority of teachers started this career for their love of children, it goes without saying that connecting with young minds is deeply rewarding. Every teacher wants to be adored and viewed as a positive influence.