Want to have a good year?
Dr. Robert Marzano calls it “emotional objectivity”. The key to having it is mindset. I call it being able to get and stay in the best possible emotional place to be as effective and stress free as possible.
Some tools that can help new and veteran teachers get there.
1) UOA or Unconditional Other Acceptance
It doesn’t mean you have to like, agree with, or even tolerate what kids do. It just means that you accept that what they do is understandable given that they are human, kids to boot, and what they have been through so far in their lives – much of it sometimes being things kids shouldn’t have to deal with. Think about it, if you watched a movie of a kid’s like, wouldn’t you see the understandable reasons they think, feel say and do what they do now?
2) An internal locus of control
Like most other people, most teachers see what kids say and do as being the cause of how they feel, good or bad. The problem is that puts you at the mercy of what they do. You are more likely to feel worse than is necessary or helpful, and worse, miss many opportunities to feel better. It also means they have to change their behavior for the better for you to feel better. What if they never do? In fact, if you think they make you feel bad, and they do too, it gives them a false sense of power and control over you, and that can reinforce the behavior you don’t like. Some kids will take any consequence you could dish out to get that false sense.
It’s really what you choose to think about what they say or do that really determines how you feel. And we all have a host of cognitive choices we make all the time that really determine how we feel. Like what meaning we attach to what they do, and what happens, what we focus on, compare things to, or even expect in the first place. Kids can’t and don’t make these choices for us. Most people are relatively unaware that they make these choices constantly because they make them so automatically because of prior practice and rehearsal. It’s important to constantly remind ourselves of these choices, and that no one upsets us, we upset ourselves.
3) Recognize irrational thinking in ourselves
I’ve always liked Dr. Albert Ellis simple model. We all have a right to want whatever we want. The problem he says is that we start to think we need something we simply want, start to treat simple preferences as necessities, and start to demand what we simply desire. For example, teachers have every right to want students to cooperate, be respectful, etc. The mistake they make is to turn their THINK thermostat up to demanding obedience and respect. This simply creates a much bigger gap that helpful or necessary between their expectations and reality, if or when kids don’t do what they want. The bigger the gap, the more emotion they’ll generate. The more emotion, the more likely they are to react, or overreact to what kids say and do.
Teachers will also then to be more likely to see what kids say and do as awful, instead of just unpleasant, inconvenient or uncomfortable. They are more likely to think they can’t stand what kids do instead of just not liking it. Finally, they are more likely to label and damn the kid instead of just disliking what he/she did.
4) Practice correcting irrational thinking
The way to do so can be found at: www.teacheresp.com
Practicing these corrections becomes like spell or grammar check on a computer – automatic. This will help keep your THINK thermostat down, and turn it down quicker if it goes up.
5) Construct a visual of a THINK-FEEL-DO thermostat
This will help you see where you are emotionally, and how that affects the way you behave with students. It will show you why you are where you are - the specific thoughts causing it. Most importantly, it shows where you want to be instead, and how to get there.
You can read more about these “tools” for teachers at: www.teacheresp.com
There is an article about how to construct a THINK-FEEL-DO thermostat on this blog. If you'd like a pre-made copy, email me at:
To learn about all ten "tools" I think we should be giving to all new and current teachers, and all students, go to: