Today it occurred to me that managing a classroom is exactly like managing life. In many cases, life (and classroom) events happen without any notice or possibility for intervention. In others, it’s a question of fully understanding your circumstances and making decisions on how to proceed.
For example, imagine nineteen fourth graders bordering on glucose overdose due to Valentine’s Day. They begin as disenfranchised or confused because Mr. Regular Teacher is not in the room. That’s another way of saying that our normal schedule is disrupted.
At this point, I can attempt to duplicate their normal day. This is easily accomplished by virtue of the self-appointed assistants who regularly remind me of their routine.
In life, we keep doing what’s comfortable or familiar. Sometimes we disconnect and choose another direction or dimension. So it goes in the classroom. Yes, I know what you usually do at this hour but we’re doing something different today.
Some will accept and adjust to change, just as we learn to deal with illness, accident, loss or other events. Those who can’t will either overreact, withdraw to a corner or display their total distaste for anything new.
Because I have no idea how to manage those situations that are incapable of being managed, I offer no specific strategies other than to think before acting. Rash and impromptu solutions rarely work.
Another strategy is to realize your limitations and use your strengths and experiences to handle crises. If it’s a classroom, I recognize that I will never be their regular teacher. But maybe my position is ultimately a better one.
Ultimately, the noise level becomes unimportant in its transience. Fear of consequences creates the accountability that I seek. And so it seems that I have created another method for managing life, by focusing on the winners and winning; the kind and kindness; the happy and happiness. It’s not surprising that in school or in life, emphasis on the positive generates positive outcomes. Shalom.