In the last piece I wrote, “It is important we connect with the class for at least a moment to them know that we are here, we are glad that they are here, and that we will be making the decisions that direct what happens in the room.”
If I make a few changes, I can summarize what I believe about discipline:
“We must connect with the class in order to let each student know that we are here, that we are glad that they are here, and that we will be making the decisions that direct what happens in the room.”
When all three of those are present, we are on the right path. When even one of those is missing in a given moment, we are on a dangerous detour. It is when we have been juggling one or two of those instead of all three that we see our individual students and entire classes slipping away. With some groups it is the only way to keep everyone safe ( I have several of these groups this year!!!!!!). At this time of year it becomes very important. (I know that many of us are feeling it.)
As Susie has often told us, “Discipline proceeds instruction.”
At the beginning of the year, the beginning of the period, the beginning of the activity, the beginning of the conversation.
Connect first, then communicate: I’m here. I’m glad that you’re here. I’m making the final decisions.
Of course there are many, many other things implied: I’m here because I care. I’m here because I’m knowledgeable. I’m here because you matter. I’m here because I want to be. I’m glad that you are in my world. I’m glad that you came to class today. I’m glad that you’re trying. I’m glad that you trust me. I’m glad that you exist. I will listen to you. I will take your thoughts and feelings into consideration. I will pay attention to you. I will see the good things about you. I will forgive the difficult things about you. I have faith in you. I have faith in the adult you will be come. I will honor the child inside of you. I can see great things in you. I will not let you hurt yourself. I will not let you hurt others. I will not let others hurt you. I will help you to learn to deal with problems. We all have struggles. We all have feelings. Everyone matters. I am the adult and will do my best to act like one at all times. I will remember that I may be the adult, but I am not always right. I will try to model all of the behaviors that I expect from you…especially forgiveness. I will be in charge. I will take the responsibility. I will walk the walk.
But only three need to be said on a regular basis…and with our actions as well as our words:
I’m here. I’m glad that you are here. I’m making the final decisions about what is best for this class.