POWER STEALERS, by Mrs. Anna Nichols

The subject of "authority" has had me wondering for years - how do teachers "control" their classes? How have I learned to "be the leader" in the classroom? Anyone who knows me knows that I do not have a strong personality like most teachers - I am actually quite shy! At the middle school where I work most of the teachers' confident personalities are "bulldozerish" compared to mine; I am generally quiet and soft-spoken, you could even go so far as to label me "unassertive." No one notices me at staff meetings as I usually keep my mouth shut and mind my own business. As a child I was always told (to my surprise) that I had strong "leadership potential" because I was so strong-willed - at least that is what my parents and teachers said. (I was so shy that most of my classmates were unaware of my existence.) Needless to say, I have had to work VERY hard to cultivate my own "inner authority" and to maintain the respect of my students.

I started this list of classroom management "Power Stealers" (how to lose student respect) when I first learned about the different types of power a teacher could utilize in the classroom (from the work of professor Irvin King). The last four ideas I added after reading the work of Michael Linsin at  smartclassroommanagement.com as well as his books. After each "Power Stealer" there is a note about what to do instead along with a link to one of Michael Linsin's brilliant articles.

Don't let these short-circuit your flight and leave you grounded!

painting on the side of a WWII aircraft carrier; photo taken at the Museum of Naval Aviation, Pensacola, FL

If you want to keep your students' respect, you must STAY CALM instead of getting visibly angry and arguing. We are only human, so it is only natural to get angry. However, it's a huge mistake to show irritation when the kids act up. Instead, enforce your consequences without emotion and never, ever fall into the trap of arguing. Being emotional is a sure-fire way to lose the students' respect. (Here is an article by Michael Linsin about arguing and here is one about staying calm. Also, Fred Jones has a terrific article about the power of staying calm: Meaning Business: Exploiting Your Power).

As art teachers, it is a challenge for us to stay organized due to the sheer volume of materials we have available to use. I have found myself on a number of occasions being harried and disorganized, and this inevitably leads to student misbehavior. If they can sense that the teacher doesn't have it together, they just won't respect him/her. It is well worth it to get to school early to have everything ready for the day. I do have to confess, though, that after 10 years of teaching I am just now getting to the point where I feel my classroom and supply closet are organized! Art Room Organization on Pinterest and here are some ideas for art teachers to get organized. Here is an article by Michael Linsin about organization.
 (REMEMBER: "Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean!" Proverbs 14:4. Don't be too hard on yourself if your room gets messy every so often! I have heard it said that an immaculate art room is a sign of a lack of creativity.)

Instead, follow your classroom management plan to the letter NO MATTER WHO is misbehaving; your best student, the underprivileged/at risk kid, it doesn't matter. There are simply no excuses for misbehavior. Period. However, it does help to consider whether or not the student misbehaved because of lack of understanding - if you don't teach, model, and re-teach your classroom management plan, it can cause your students to resent you because the disciplinary action seemed to come out of nowhere. "Teachers who make decisions based on feeling sorry for students and their sometimes-awful circumstances can cause behavior to worsen. The most compassionate thing you can do for a difficult student is to hold him or her accountable." Michael Linsin, How to Turn Around Difficult Students, Part II
This article is also well worth reading: How To Make Your Classroom a Safe Haven For Students.

You are either consistent or you are not. There is no such thing as "sort-of" consistent. It is so important to hold the kids accountable! You must have the self-discipline to enforce your classroom management plan even when you are tired. Even when the misbehavior is small it needs to be dealt with before it "snowballs" into the class getting out of control. 
Here is one of Michael Linsin's articles about consistency. Also, Fred Jones has a powerful article about consistency on educationworld.com: Positive Discipline Part 5: Thinking Like a Teacher
"If you are consistent, you can use smaller and smaller consequences to govern misbehavior. If you are inconsistent, you must use larger and larger consequences to govern misbehavior." Fred Jones

5. NOT BEING CLEAR and CONCISE when giving instruction
It is so important to be very clear when giving instructions to kids. If they are confused about what to do, this creates a level of anxiety that is detrimental to good behavior (and your peace of mind). When kids don't understand exactly what is expected, what the goal is, or why they are learning a technique or about an artist, the classroom environment can turn topsy-turvy, especially if there is a large percentage of needy kids in the room. When teaching a lesson, be very detailed. Then, check for understanding. Have a student explain it or demonstrate it. Check for understanding again before releasing kids to independent work.

When you give a direction, the students need to obey. It is not okay for some to obey and others to ignore you. This sends the message that you don't really mean what you say and it will cause students to tune you out. So, command the students' attention and see to it that EACH and EVERY student follows through on the directions.

Here is a wonderful article by Mr. Linsin about how to avoid "teacher burnout." It is so true that if the teacher is miserable, the kids will be too and are tempted to misbehave even more. Here is one more.

8. TAKING MISBEHAVIOR PERSONALLY (NEGATIVE THOUGHTS) and yelling at students or lecturing them
How to Handle Disrespectful Students, by Michael Linsin as well as these two:

Here is a great step-by-step guide by Michael Linsin about getting the class back on track when there is a large percentage of students acting up. Here is another one.

10. ANXIETY/NERVOUSNESS/having a lack of confident body language
One of the most important things you can do is to simply be confident - stand tall, with shoulders back and your chin up. Having confidence is definitely something I am still working on, and one of the best descriptions I have found for conquering nervousness comes from the "Dog Whisperer," Cesar Milan. You can read more about this on the page entitled, "On Authority" on the above menu. Also, John Rosemond, psychologist and author of A Family of Value, reminds us that the best leaders ACT like they know what they're doing even when they don't. This Michael Linsin article, How to Have Jedi-Like Classroom Management Powers, describes the mindset of a powerful teacher. In Proverbs it says, "As a man thinks in his heart, so is he." The mind is a very powerful thing!
Fred Jones also has a wonderful article about body language on Education World:
Meaning Business, Part 2: The Body Language of Commitment

Corkboard Connections has a great article similar to this one about 5 common classroom management mistakes!

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