I mean, right?
When we yell or scream or berate or rip into, are we solving the problem? Or are we making it worse? But, it just feels so good to rip into that kid! "He deserves it!" or "He needs to know who is in charge and that person is me!!" When we yell or scream in someone's face, what happens? Does it solve the problem? Does it deescalate the situation? Does it make the kid feel better? Does it help to calm the situation? Does it help the kid to see what happened and the error of his ways? Does it get the kid to feel better about themselves and actually want to do better for you? The answer, to all those questions, is No. When we yell, what do you think is going through that kids' mind? I'm not a professional mind reader, but I bet it goes something like this, "Here we go again. Getting yelled at by a teacher again......" Notice what the student is not thinking: He is not thinking about the mistake they made or trying to do better next time or truly trying to change. It's just the same old yelling. For some kids, they've been getting yelled at since kindergarten. For the middle schoolers, that's 6-8 years of being yelled at. And is it working? Well, no. It's not. So why continue that method? It takes a strong person to calmly handle a tense/frustrating situations. And in teaching, it is a certainty that you will encounter a frustrating situation, a situation where the number one thing you want to do is yell. We must talk to them! With the heat rising in your body, stay calm and start by asking, in a calm, calculated way, what is going on. Ask them what is the problem. Ask them to tell you about the situation. What you will hear might floor you. It might make you see through their eyes and that might be the perspective change you needed. If we calmly talk to the kid, keeping our frustrations at bay, we may find out that they were left home alone with their 2 year old brother all night, while their parents were out doing who knows what. Yeah, they didn't get their assignment done. Yeah, it's a pattern. But do they really deserve to get yelled at because they were left in charge of a 2 year old and just couldn't get to it? What about those kids who go home and are completely ignored until the next morning when someone at school hopefully says 'hello'? Should they get yelled at? Absolutely not. It's awesome when cars can go from 0 to 60 mph in 2 seconds. But it's not awesome for teachers to do that! We need to start in first gear and gradually build up speed. If we go from 0 to 60 mph screaming, we will never find any of that out. After unleashing the rage, after getting in their face and screaming, "why didn't you get this done?!?! Huh?!?! Why?!?!?!" do you really think that student will feel comfortable talking to you and sharing with you what's really going on in their life? A most profound No. We want to build relationships, inspire, help kids. That is our job. Our job is not to exert our dominance over them and lead by fear. Knowing who is in charge and having no doubt about it can surely happen through other avenues besides screaming. My frustration rises like everyone, the urge to yell no different than others and at times my voice perhaps gets a little too loud, but I have a great mentor and we talk a lot about handling students and dealing with frustrations and reminding each other about how to deal with the frustration. If you put the work in to build the relationship, when a problem does happen, you sit that kid down, look them in the eye and with a firm, focused approach, say that you are disappointed in them for ______________, it will have an exponentially greater effect than yelling. They will feel bad because they let you down and I may be a idealist here, but I believe they will try better the next time. The only feeling they feel after getting yelled at is boredom. They are bored and indifferent because it's happened before. Catch them off guard, stay calm. They are anticipating getting the yell treatment. Come at them from a different angle and see what happens. It might actually make a difference. Our best weapon is our mind and our eyes, not our strong vocal chords.
With one week of school left, the chances of stressful, frustrating situations arising are higher than usual, let's keep our cool and handle situations like professionals. Let's make sure we keep relationship building in our cross hairs, up until the very last day. It takes a lot of work to build positive relationships, we don't want to tear it down and throw it away in one regrettable display of rage and frustration. If we are going to yell at them, let's yell how much we care about them, how much we will miss them when school is over, or that we are in their corner if they ever need anything. Yell a hardy "good luck to you in the future!" Give them a hand shake, a pat on the back, a smile.
I hope you all have a great last week of school and a wonderful summer.
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