Why Is It So Hard to Be Consistent?
Why on earth is it so hard to be consistent in our discipline or our classroom management?
Okay, maybe for some of you consistency comes relatively easily, but not for me. And based on some comments that I’ve gotten from you readers, I don’t think I’m not the only one that struggles with this.
It’s Hard to Be Consistent
When I first started teaching I actually had to give myself a little pep talk every time I needed to even give a student a small correction. And even as I started to get more confident, I still found myself struggling with consistency.
I would stand at the board knowing that I needed to address a problem or that I needed to give a student a warning, and I would just have this fight going on inside my head.
I need to give this student a warning.
But I don’t want to.
This is important. Just do it.
But I really don’t want to.
You know you need to. There’s nothing to be afraid of. Just do it.
But……..I really don’t want to.
Please tell me I’m not the only one who’s had this internal dialogue. There’s just something inside of me that doesn’t want to deal with the problems even though I know how important it is.
More Trouble Being Consistent
And my problems with being consistent didn’t end with teaching. I now have a wonderful but easily-angered almost-two year old who has been going through the “terrible ones.” And while I absolutely know I need to be consistent in disciplining him, I’m facing the same challenge.
I need to deal with this.
But I’m busy.
No, I really do need to deal with this. It’s important.
But I’m in the middle of something.
It’s worth it. Just stop and deal with it.
But …..I don’t want to.
And here we go again….
Learning to Be Consistent
Even though it’s so hard to be consistent – or maybe because it’s so hard to be consistent – we really need to work at it and make it a priority.
I had to face this head-on as a teacher and I’m doing my best to again face it again as a parent.
Here are some steps that have helped me in the past and I’m hoping and praying will help me again this time around…..
How to Be Consistent
- Get clear on why it’s important. Consistency is important because if we don’t deal with the problems, they’re not going to just go away. Instead, they’re going to get worse and worse. So I spend some time thinking that through…….thinking about how out-of-control my classroom will be if I just let things go…… thinking about how my son is going to learn to disobey me if I don’t teach him to obey…… thinking about how much harder it’s going to be to deal with these behaviors if I let them become bad habits. Getting clear on the stakes helps us realize how important it is that we do be consistent.
- Decide ahead of time what your decision will be. Instead of going through that internal debate every time an issue arises, I try to determine ahead of time that I will simply act. Now yes, this is easier said than done. But the point is that I am determining what I am going to do so that ideally I’ll follow through and do it in the moment. (By the way, if you don’t have a plan for how you’re going to deal with certain common issues, you really need to figure that out. You can check out my article How to Calm a Disruptive Class for some ideas of the plan I used in my classroom. Or, if you’d like detailed help, consider enrolling in my new Classroom Management 101 online course.)
- When the problem arises, don’t debate. Just act. This is where the rubber meets the road. You know it’s important. You’ve determined ahead of time what you will do. Now just do it. Don’t allow that internal debate to even start. When you see a problem, act right away. As I said, I know this is easier said than done, but in the end it’s a choice. We’ve just gotta’ do it. (Can you tell I’m trying to psych myself up too?)
- If you do mess up, determine not to let it happen again. If you do fail to correct a problem (and chances are this will happen at some point), don’t let yourself get down & discouraged. And don’t believe the lie that you’ve ruined everything. Instead, determine that you are ABSOLUTELY going to deal with the next issue – no letting it slide. By doing so, you make it just a small bump in the road instead of letting it snowball into a huge mess.
- Pray, pray, pray. I really don’t know if I prayed enough about being consistent as a teacher. I know I prayed for help and wisdom, but I don’t remember if I specifically asked for help in being consistent. I definitely am this time around. I can’t do it without Him.
- Get an accountability partner. This is another thing I didn’t do as a teacher, but I would highly recommend. Right now my accountability partner is my husband. I didn’t really ask him to be my accountability partner, it just happened naturally when he noticed how much I was struggling with consistency. And I definitely think it helps to know that there’s someone else who’s paying attention and who’s going to ask me if I dealt with the problem. So find someone that can do this for you – it could be a fellow teacher, family member, or even another teacher you met online (btw you can meet some great ones in our Christian Teachers’ Lounge Facebook group). Just ask them to check in with you every so often to see how you’re doing.
What about you? Do you struggle with being consistent? What is your biggest challenge? What have you learned helps you be consistent? I’d love to hear from you – just leave a comment below.