My mom was a stay at home mom. She cooked every night, came on field trips, volunteered as homeroom mom and watched my field hockey games even though I rarely played. She made brownies every first day of school, we stopped at the bookstore on the first day of vacation each year and she read me books each night. She hugged me every day, told me she loved me and that she thought I was the best of all my friends. She also yelled at me loudly when I did something wrong or that she had explicitly told me not to do. She slapped my face for back talking. She told me the truth even if it made me cry. She apologized when she was overreacting.
She was my first classroom management coach. Now- yelling and hitting students is obviously terrible. And not what I am suggesting or what I did. BUT- loving kids unconditionally, showing that love right after they have disappointed you, and apologizing to them when you mess up… those are the keys to running a classroom that oozes respect and community.
However, it’s a hard thing to teach. My first year of coaching teachers I focused mainly on procedures, consistency and setting clear expectations and lines(so important and impossible to have a classroom conducive to learning without these). But I was noticing that still some teachers were having trouble in their classrooms. Students were off task, students were coming late and being disruptive. I am thinking of one specific teacher especially because he is the one who had highlighted for me how I had failed him. 3 years after I coached him we were talking about the amazing changes in his class, and he told me it took a while to get it. He was too focused on the rules and the consequences and was not responding to the students as humans. He was not behaving like an Italian mom! He approached management the way I taught him to: systematically.
Systems are important. I still coach teachers to create them, articulate them, practice them and stick to them with the kids, but there is more to creating a classroom that thrives. And that is just being humans with the younger humans in your class.
Teachers have to give consequences. They have to have rules. BUT teachers MUST also encourage students- especially after they’ve made a mistake. Teachers MUST remind students that consequences are natural and not personal. Teachers MUST apologize if they’ve wronged a child (and apologize publicly if you’ve wronged publicly). Teachers MUST, like my mom, show unconditionally love to all students even (possibly especially) when those students have misbehaved, acted disrespectfully and hurt your feelings.