Did you realize one of the most statistically significant tools in your behavior management kit is your mind? No, I’m not talking about going all Uri Geller and trying to bend the students like spoons (if this makes no sense to you, then you probably don’t know Geller was an illusionist whose big TV trick was “bending spoons with his mind”). I’m talking about your overall frame of mind as it relates to students and behavior issues in your classroom. I’m not making this up.
Robert Marzano and his team have undertaken meta-analysis related to effective classroom management techniques and have reported the findings in the book Classroom Management That Works. The statistical measure they use in reporting is the effect size, which reports change via standard deviation. When looking for high yield techniques related to classroom management, the effect size is reported as a negative number, indicating that the technique reduced the number of incidents. Teacher overall mental set has an overall effect size of -1.294, which equates to a 40% decrease in disruptions. We’ve already addressed one component of mental set – withitness – in a previous publication. Today I want to focus on another component: emotional objectivity. Marzano et al share the following suggestions specific to employing healthy emotional objectivity with students (pp. 72-75):
- Reframe and look for reasons why. When students misbehave or disrupt your classroom, there is usually some catalyst or underlying reason for the disruption. Rather than personalize the incident, become a detective and look for the why. This kind of reframing helps to reduce the teacher emotions that can often come with classroom behavior management.
- Monitor your own thoughts. It’s easy to just show up and do the work without thinking much about what you are doing. As such, we develop thought patterns about our day and our interactions. If a student has a history of disruptive behavior, it’s easy to get into an “expect the worst” thinking pattern. Be aware of how you are thinking about your day and your student interactions. Actively imagine your difficult students engaging in positive ways. Set positive expectations and help the students meet them.
- Take care of yourself. Give yourself grace and love every day. Sit in your most comfortable chair, eat your favorite foods, watch your favorite movie, laugh, and spend time with your loved ones and friends. Do the things you need to do in order to be mentally healthy and strong. We need you at your best.
I truly believe in the power of positive perspective to be a force for good in your work and life. While reading this chapter, my mind kept remembering Amy Morin’s book 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do. If you are unfamiliar with that work, click on the following link to read the list. You might find it useful. I did. Here it is: https://amymorinlcsw.com/mentally-strong-people/