On the last day of my last class before beginning my first teaching job, the professor asked us if there were questions – perhaps things not addressed in class. My determined hand shot up. “What are we to do if we ask students to do something and they refuse?” This was not just my burning question – it was my biggest worry in the middle of the night. I was embarking on a high school position with over 150 students in my charge– how would a young woman who looked a lot like a teenager have any credibility with these students? Would they even do what I asked of them? What were my next steps if they did not comply? How long would I last? What if things spiral out of my control? What if I get fired?
The very nice professor became a bit flummoxed, stammered a bit, but no answer came forth. Fast forward: After teaching a jillion students, working with thousands of teachers in professional development, coaching educators, and being honored to witness fabulous work in countless classrooms, here’s what I know: It was the wrong question to ask. Rather than ask about mechanisms to control students – an impossible task – our focus is really: How can we ignite an intrinsic joy in learning that significantly reduces the need to manage, control, or even kick out kids?Continue reading “Back to School: Creating a Safe Learning Environment”