C.M. Corner: Managing OurselvesApril 20, 2018 by Travis Chapman
With the official countdown to summer having begun, students become more distractible and often less engaged in class. This can become incredibly frustrating, especially as a substitute. Whether you are a paraprofessional or a teacher, we are there to help continue the learning experience. Much of classroom management is influenced by our own attitudes and behaviors and even more so at the end of the year. If we are frustrated and short with our students, they are going to respond negatively to us. If we are down, they won’t see us as the authority figure in the classroom. This week, we are taking a look at some ways to help maintain our own attitudes!
Prepare as much as you can ahead of time. While we may not know what we will be doing that day, who we are going to be working with or even what the school itself looks like, try to make as many decisions as possible the night before. Look to see where the school is located and how long it might take to get there. Pack a lunch. Make sure your coffee mug is already clean and ready to go. Select the clothes you’re going to wear for the next day. Gather all your things together so you can just pick them up and go. The less that you are scrambling around before you leave the easier it will be to stay calm and relaxed going into your assignment.
Set up a morning routine. Having some sort of process to get yourself ready in the morning can help to focus and ready your mind for the day. Find things that work for you to help you start your day with a positive outlook. Maybe that’s taking some time to read or listen to music. That could be taking the time to exercise. Maybe it’s as simple as spending a little time with and actively caring for your loved ones or pets. I personally will take the time to shower and get ready, read a personal/professional development book for 15 minutes, eat breakfast and leave about 10 minutes earlier than I need to so that I arrive to work relaxed and filled with positive input. And if there’s some traffic on the way, it’s not the end of the world because I planned for it.
Leave it at home. When you arrive at the school, there isn’t much you can do about all of the other issues going on in life. Set them aside until you can do something about it and focus on being present and taking care of the student(s) you are working with. They are counting on you to be there for them, to help them learn and grow. If you are focused on what you are going to have for dinner, how many things you need to get done, the vacation that you have coming up, you aren’t going to have the mental space to think about what your students need. There will be plenty of time to figure all of those things out after you have finished your assignment. If this is something that you struggle with, try creating a list or reminder system. You could download a list app, use the good old-fashioned pen and paper list or even email what you need to do.
Leave it at school. Some days are more stressful than others and it may have been a win to simply just make it through the day. Find some ways to renew yourself after you’ve finished your assignment so you don’t carry it with you the next day. You could listen to music on the way home and feel free to sing along. Maybe it’s stopping and rewarding yourself with a treat. You could stop at a park on the way home (when it’s warm out) and take a quick walk. If you have family to take care of, set up some daily activity as personal time. One person used the dishes. If she was washing the dishes, her children knew that she was not to be bothered until she was finished. But find some way to leave it there so you can move on with the rest of your day and the rest of your life.
Each person is going to be different and no one thing will work straight across the board for everybody. However, it is up to us to take care of ourselves and manage our own behavior. The more that we set ourselves up to succeed that day, the less stress that we will feel through the process and the easier it will be to let the little things go. If these are things you’ve never thought about, begin thinking about them and what may work for you. Stress happens. The more prepared we are to deal with it, the better that our day will go and the easier time we will have managing the students we are working with that day.
Do you have any things that you use to manage your own emotions and take care of yourself? Or do you have any questions or topics you’d like us to cover in the Classroom Management Corner? We’d love to hear from you at firstname.lastname@example.org.