Keeping a class in line is something I’m really anxious about. When I picture myself in the classroom, I envision a pretty rosy place with lots of smiling faces and no screaming or biting or crying (again, elementary…). There’s no back-talking in that classroom, and very few hurt feelings. I’m worried reality won’t be kind to me.
I understand it’s crucial that the students respect you as the teacher, and that respect is earned by being fair and consistent. It’s upsetting to hear stories about students being discriminated against by one teacher and then getting it into their head that they’re bad students and then growing into that role, potentially ruining the rest of their school career and life. There’s so much riding on being fair to all students, regardless of whether you like them personally or if they remind you of someone who tormented you growing up.
I want to have a classroom with clear, simple rules that students can reference easily. I really like the idea of students being involved in the process, either helping to create our class rules or the consequences for infractions. Even younger elementary students can take ownership on that level. And then hopefully they can hold each other accountable to the rules every once in awhile.
One line I’m really not sure how to walk is the one between taking students and their conflicts seriously and micromanaging everyone’s hurt feelings. In the classroom I served as the assistant, a kindergarten class, there was a lot of… tattling. A lot of crocodile tears. The teacher and I could have spent all recess sorting out who wasn’t allowing who to play with them, but often that seemed unnecessary and over-involved, and I watched experienced teachers instruct students to try to work it out themselves. I want to take my students’ concerns seriously, and everyone needs to feel safe at school, but negotiating everyone’s social network would be impossible. Is bullying like obscenity? I know it when I see it?
I’m not overly worried about students liking me. Children seem to, in general. I like them, and I know that goes a long way. I could have a rude awakening in store for me, naive from my own experience of loving the vast majority of the teachers I had. I really don’t think that’s going to be my biggest problem though. Famous last words?