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What to Do if You’re “Too Nice” of a Teacher

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You’re being too nice. You’ve got to toughen up.

If you’ve heard those words anytime recently, chances are you’re a bit frustrated – and maybe even a little confused.

Your students aren’t really listening to you, and you’re having trouble keeping order in your classroom, but being mean isn’t really in your nature.

Do you really have to stop being nice?

Can a teacher be too nice?

Thankfully, no. But that doesn’t mean you can keep going as is either.

One of the keys to being a great teacher with great classroom control is to have the right balance in your demeanor – to keep being nice while also holding yourself and your students to high standards.

To be an effective teacher ….

  1. Be both kind and firm. The best teachers are personable, understanding, and even fun to be around. But this in no way means they’re a pushover. They kindly but firmly deal with issues that come up, and their students know they mean business.
  2. Have high expectations. Don’t think you’re being nice to your students when you lower your expectations. Instead, believe in them and their abilities, and call out the best in them. Expect great things, and hold them to it.
  3. Focus on being respected instead of being liked. If you’re worried about whether or not your students like you, you’re really going to struggle to deal with issues properly. Instead, make it your goal to earn their respect. (Check out this article here if this is a struggle for you.)
  4. View yourself as your students’ mentor, not their friend. You should absolutely care about your students and want to be involved in their lives. But you must take the role of mentor, not friend. A mentor guides his students without acting like a peer or stooping to their level.
  5. Be friendly, not familiar. Be friendly and open in your interactions with students, but avoid being familiar. For example, if a student shares with you that they got to go snorkeling on their recent vacation, a friendly response may sound like this: “Wow, Adam, it sounds like you and your family had a great time! I love snorkeling. Did you get to see any turtles?” On the other hand, a familiar response would be, “Dude, that’s sweet! I’m so jealous! Although I betcha’ you were scared of sharks, huh?” See the difference?

To dive deeper into the mindset and demeanor of a successful teacher, join us in our Classroom Management 101 course, where we cover every aspect of classroom management in detail.

Find out more about Classroom Management 101 here.

classroom management strategies

Have you been accused of being “too nice”? What do you need to change in your demeanor?



What to Read Next
  • This is hard for me. My school principal says that I am too flexible, because I let my students to go to the bathroom, even though they leave the classroom one by one, or two by two. I tried beiing thougher, but I ended up losing my voice. Any advice?

    • Well it’s kind of hard to say without all the details. But I do know that during my first year of teaching I let kids go to the bathroom whenever they asked and they took advantage of it until I had a parade of people going to the bathroom. My principal said something and once I switched up my procedure this was way less of an issue. So maybe that’s what your principal is thinking?

      Being tougher doesn’t mean that you yell all the time – that is not a good idea and you’re right – you’ll lose your voice. Being tougher means having high expectations and holding your students to them.

      If you aren’t sure where to start, you might want to check out my classroom management video series:

  • I struggle with this as well. I have been teaching 3-5 year olds for 20 years. I will admit I often expect kids to be kids. I have a hard time holding them accountable for certain behaviors that children of this age often display; mainly behaviors related to self regulation skills. Any suggestions? My boss is really good at getting a different response …her style is more authoritative and stern with higher expectations, which I often think, sometimes, are is not exactly developmentally appropriate. Yet, when the children transition to another class where the teacher has a similar teaching style, I see how the children display more self regulation skills or, to me “fear of reprimand and negative consequence.

  • Yes, teachers can be too nice. I volunteered in a kindergarten classroom and watched first hand what happens when a teacher is too nice. Kids running all over, no classroom management because she didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. Kids would hit her and each other, jump off of the tables, and throw things around the room. I spoke to the principal about what I saw for the three days I was there and she’s still teaching and has been for almost thirty years. This isn’t okay and it’s not how kids learn. A teacher should be kind and firm but nothing at all isn’t safe.

    • Teachers need to be balanced and fair. Firm at the times when children are misbehaving and acting up. Teachers still need to be fair,kind, and respect ful to themselves and and others around then. If I were teacher I choose the fair and balanced approach because it’s the best personality.

  • A rule that I have found that works is to tell the class that they are not allowed to go to the bathroom during the first 20 minutes of the lesson and during the last 20 minutes of the lesson; they are allowed to go to the bathroom only in between but only if it is an emergency and I tell them I know when it is an emergency. You can adjust the number of minutes depending on the age of your students. Eventually, they learn to control their physiological needs.

  • Hmmm I’m familiar with my students but I’m very strict. This combo has worked for me. I work with 5th graders in a tough area and the fact that I’m real but strict has worked like a charm! Set routines, boundaries and expectations…that’s how to run a classroom!

  • Hi Linda,
    Thank God for you. I am a second year teacher and I just started teaching 9th grade. I find that because they are older I’m a little more familiar with them. They take advantage of this and it’s hard to get them to do anything they don’t WANT to do. I ant effectively teach them anything this way. Al they want to do is have fun.

  • I actually have been having a problem with dismissal and talking. I define my rules beforehand, post my expectations on the board, use a group point system for lining up, and I still have several problems with behavior, constant chatter, and disrespect, especially before dismissal. How do you enforce your expectations and be strict on students who are constantly challenging those boundaries?

  • I frequently read or hear advice “to be consistent” but also to ” pick your battles” I know that I need to strengthen my boundaries but my own models were pretty bad. I need to develop wisdom to understand how to make better decisions.

  • I truly believe God has called me to teach but I’m failing in classroom management and I don’t know what to do with it!! Need help .

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