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The Key to Controlling Your Classroom

Andrew Dadson
December 15, 2020

If you’ve had the chance to fly on an airplane in the last 20 years, there is one thing we’ve all had the chance to experience. After all the craziness of boarding, but before actually taking off, you get settled into your seat and the safety spiel begins. It starts by welcoming you and giving you the rundown of the features of the plane you are on, but the real ‘meat’ of the demonstration is the correct procedures in the event of an emergency. But one of the most key points of this intro is the explanation that

"if there is a decline in cabin pressure, masks will drop from the ceiling that will supply the necessary oxygen."

The point stressed during the presentation is that a person/adult needs to take care of their own mask before assisting any other they may be traveling with.

This idea of taking care of one’s self can be applied to so many aspects in our lives, but you might be wondering, “how exactly does this have to do with the classroom and me as a substitute teacher?”

Well, I’m glad you asked. As a teacher, we will be so much more effective when we know a subject prior to trying to teach it to a classroom. But for the purposes of this post, I’d like to focus here— this can be applied when we learn that to influence someone else’s behavior in a positive manner we must first have control of our own. This is a powerful concept and one that educators should take to heart.

By securing one’s own mask prior to helping others and taking control of their own actions, a substitute teacher will better create an environment that fosters the positive behavior of their students.

Substitute teachers should spend more time prepping for and focusing on their own behavior, and worry less about students’ misbehavior. Some misbehavior to avoid as a substitute might include:

  • Not setting expectations from the beginning
  • Responding only to inappropriate behavior
  • Using sarcasm in any form
  • Using coercion/bribery to make students obey

If a substitute teacher can appropriately learn to manage their behavior, the more likely it is that their students will display the appropriate behavior. Eleanor Roosevelt captured the essence of this whole post when she said,

"It is not fair to ask of others what you are unwilling to do yourself.”

To answer the question posed in the title: whose behavior are we trying to control?

The answer should be, we first need to control our own before looking elsewhere. By taking the correct steps to control our own behavior, we then create an environment where students can behave appropriately.

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