Welcome to the final installment of my classroom management series. So far, I’ve covered how humor can build trust with your students, the life-changing magic of consistency, and how to let the rules speak for themselves. Today, I’ll be discussing a broader topic; how to be the role model your students deserve. But before I get started, I’d like you to think back on your own educational experiences. Who was a good role model for you while you were growing up? Was it a teacher, a friend, or a relative? Did their example change your thoughts or behavior? If so, was it because they told you what to do or was it because they showed you what to do?
In a perfect world, parents would provide most of the emotional support that children need. However, the disturbing reality is that some parents are unable to provide the type of unconditional love that every human deserves. To fill that gap, students may rely on other adults in their lives to be good role models and provide the support they need. These adults could be teachers, aunts and uncles, or even TV personalities. Let’s look at Mr. Rogers as an example. He didn’t have the same demands as a teacher, but he’s still a good role model for how to interact with people. His calm and patient demeanor is comforting. His insistence that every person has worth (including children) should be the standard for all teachers. When Mr. Rogers asked, “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” he meant it. The following quote by him, is one of his most powerful:
“When we love a person, we accept him or her exactly as is: the lovely with the unlovely, the strong with the fearful, the true mixed in with the façade, and of course, the only way we can do it is by accepting ourselves that way.”
As music teachers, our impact can be spread across a wide span of grade levels. In rural or remote areas, it might even span kindergarten through 12th grade. This gives music teachers a unique responsibility and opportunity. You have the responsibility to be a good role model for your students. Likewise, you have the opportunity each year to improve upon the relationships you’ve built. So now the question is, how exactly can you do that?
- Passion for being a lifelong learner
- Desire for self-improvement
- Compassion for yourself and your neighbors (children and adults alike)
- Willingness to confront your implicit biases and do your best to eliminate them
SCENARIOS AND QUESTIONS
Choose one day as your day to observe, both yourself and others. Here are some questions you can ask yourself as you observe:
- You’re in the staff room, and you notice other teachers implying that Student A is worthless, because her behavior isn’t what they’d like it to be. What is your reaction to this? How could you be a good role model in this situation?
- You’re teaching the last class after a very long day. Your students are particularly wound up, and you can feel your patience leaving you with each passing second. What should you do? How can you regain your composure in a way that benefits both the students and yourself?
- You’re in a staff meeting where another teacher is presenting on a topic that she’s extremely passionate about. You notice that most of the teachers are talking over her, forcing her to pause every few minutes. How would you expect your students to behave in this situation?
“What people think of as the moment of discovery is really the discovery of the question.” – Jonas Salk
What questions will you ask yourself moving forward? I’d love for you to share them in the comments section.