Today is Superbowl Sunday; I thought it fitting to compile  a list of Teacher Super Powers...... 

The subject of "authority" has had me wondering for years - how do teachers "control" their classes? We are told over and over that we need to get the kids "under control," but how do we do that? How do we learn 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." Needless to say, I have had to really work to cultivate my own "inner authority."

I am by no means a "master" of classroom management yet, but here are a few things I have found really help to maintain a peaceful learning environment, earn student respect, and get those wild children under "control:"  

Look for the positive things always. Focus your mind on what the students are doing well, and laugh with them as much as you can. Plan lessons that are fun for you and for the kids, they will learn more if they enjoy the work! We all know how chaotic things can get at school, but smiling when things don't go according to plan is way better than getting mad! (Complaining is a trap, by the way - try very, very hard not to fall into it...)
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, and another one: Avoiding Burnout, by Vicki Davis. 

If you need a good laugh, here is Principal Gerry Brooks on "Improving Climate and Culture," Youtube

If you want to keep your students' respect, stay calm instead of getting visibly angry when they misbehave. This is a secret weapon that middle school teachers know very well! We are only human, so it is natural to get angry. However, it's a huge mistake to show irritation when the kids act up....some kids actually enjoy pushing buttons! 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 as well as to sabotage good relationships. (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). 
NEVER TAKE THINGS PERSONALLY....students will be disrespectful, they will throw crayons, they sometimes will get downright nasty. Yelling at students or lecturing them when this happens will sabotage your effectiveness. Here are a few more articles by Michael Linsin;  How to Handle Disrespectful StudentsStop Lecturing Students and Lower Your StressWhy Persuasion is a Poor Classroom Management Strategy

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. 
"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
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. This article is also well worth reading: How To Make Your Classroom a Safe Haven For Students
(....It is not okay for some students to obey your instructions and for 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. Wait for it. 
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.)

You are either consistent or you are not. There is no such thing as "sort-of" consistent. 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

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 and demonstrate how to do it. Then, check for understanding. Have a student explain it or demonstrate it. Check for understanding again before releasing kids to independent work.

"When students respect the teacher for the knowledge s/he possesses, when they master significant knowledge and skills, and when they feel good about themselves because they are achieving, they are less likely to misbehave.....The final type of power identified by French and Raven (1960) is expert power, the power teachers have because they possess superior knowledge. Teachers who rely upon expert power take pride in their command of the subject matter, are enthusiastic about the subject, prepare interesting lessons, and derive great pleasure in transmitting this enthusiasm and knowledge to their students" Dr. Irvin King

There are many, many ways to motivate kids in the form of rewards, prizes, and positive recognition. However, "recognition, praise, and appreciation are probably the most effective rewards a teacher can give, especially if the teacher is also using relational power," Dr. Irvin King. Michael Linsin describes ways to fuel kids' intrinsic motivation here and here, specifically how to praise kids without being manipulative: Incentives and Praise, smartclassroommanagement.com.

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 it took me 10 years to get to the point where I felt my classroom and supply closet were 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.)

"...relationship power, the power teachers have because they are likable and know how to develop good relationships with students. Teachers who rely upon attractive power go out of their way to make students feel good about themselves, and they work hard at developing good relationships with all students. I know of teachers who proudly state that they do not care if their students like them so long as they respect them. To some extent this attitude is based upon the belief that popular teachers buy the good will of their students by being lenient with them. But this need not be the case. Many popular teachers are strict; yet, at the same time, they treat students in a friendly and respectful manner, they make their classes as interesting as possible, and they try to make every student feel a part of the class. Such teachers are both liked and respected, and they wield a great deal of power with students." Dr. Irvin King, One Man's Perspective Of Discipline In the Schools

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 here. 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

"An understanding of the difference between authority and power can be very useful in gaining student cooperation (Froyen, 1988 ). Authority is the right to decide what happens in the classroom. The teacher is granted that authority by the school board. Power, on the other hand, is teachers' ability to get students to do what they want them to do. While all teachers are vested with authority, not all teachers have power. There are five forms of power that can be used to get an individual to act in ways the teacher deems appropriate: legitimate power; coercive power; reward power; attractive power; and expert power (French & Raven, 1959; Froyen, 1988; Shrigley, 1986).....A generation ago, when I began my teaching career, a teacher could reply upon legitimate power, supported with coercive power, to maintain control in the classroom. This will not work in most classrooms today: many students do not automatically respect their teachers, and the arsenal of available punishments is so small and ineffectual that the most disruptive students are unafraid. Therefore, all teachers would be well-advised to develop other sources of power. By consciously developing and combining various forms of power, a teacher can geometrically increase his or her influence with students (Fairholm & Fairholm, 1984). If a teacher is liked by students (attractive power), is admired for his knowledge of the subject (expert power), and gives authentic praise to his students (reward power), then the teacher truly has power to influence learning in the classroom. The challenge to any teacher is to find that combination of power which is compatible with his or her basic beliefs, abilities, and personality." Dr. Irvin King

Disclaimer - these are a set of ideas about being proactive in teaching based on our classroom experience as well as various education authors. We absolutely believe that many times there are circumstances in the classroom that are beyond any teacher's control, especially when serving at-risk populations or in environments where those in administration fail to provide effective leadership in a school. Many times, regardless of the prevailing theories about teacher responsibility, the teacher is not to be blamed for out of control students. Finally, we make no representation that you should put into practice any of the advice found on this website if your current administration disagrees with the teaching and/or disciplinary strategies described.

Mrs. Anna Nichols, founder, web designer, editor of artteachershelpal.blogspot.com
"Managing the Art Classroom"

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