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.
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.
Here’s some steps that can help us be more consistent in our discipine.
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. Spend some time thinking that through…….thinking about how out-of-control your classroom will be if you just let things go…… thinking about how much harder it’s going to be to deal with these behaviors if you 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, determine ahead of time that you will simply act. Now yes, this is easier said than done. But the point is that you am determining what you will do so that ideally you’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 our 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.
- 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. Often we pray for help and wisdom as teachers, but why not also specifically ask for help in being consistent. We just can’t do it without Him.
- Get an accountability partner. Knowing someone else is paying attention and will ask you if you dealt with the problems is huge. 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.
One final thought… Although this article was about how to be more consistent, there is also a place for grace. The key is choosing to give grace because it’s best for your student – NOT because you just don’t want to deal with the situation. For more insight, check out this article: Should Teachers Give Grace in the Classroom
Want more practical Help guiding your class?
Check out our free class: How to Reduce Disruptions without Yelling, Begging, or Bribing.
What to do with that one child that is oppositional defiant. I say “don’t” and he has to do it. calling parents is out of the question, grandma just states we are picking on him. Family life is “messed up”. I am at my wits end, to the point where I just basically ignore him. We also have a BIP in place, but he still doesn’t care.
That is really tough…..How old is the child? Are there any consequences that you can give that seem to make a difference?
This kind of problem seems to be on the increase; parents (or grandparents) don’t want to be bothered with discipline, so the teachers end up being the bad guy. I have several students like this and each of them presents their own challenge. One student blurts out whatever pops into his head (appropriate or not) whenever he feels like it. I took a note from Rob Plevin’s book and bought a couple of pilot’s hats (costume quality, not the real thing.) If my classes is noisy, I assign a couple of people to be “shushers.” I tell them to put on the hats and on the count of three they are to shush the whole class. Guess who gets to be a shusher on a regular basis? That’s right- they get the attention they want without drama, and if they continue to act up, I first take away their shushing privileges. It doesn’t work all the time, but it’s making a difference and I have a lot less trouble than most of the other teachers who have him.
Thank you so much for this post. I know that I struggle with consistency in my classroom management, and it’s affecting my students. They’re starting to think that I’m picking on them when I call some of them out, but not others. I’m not doing it intentionally. Sometimes I just don’t have the energy to correct every single behavior. I’m really working on being consistent, and it’s nice to know I’m not alone.
Do you have any advice about how to know what’s really going on in my classroom? I feel like part of my consistency problem is me only noticing behavior some of the time. Sometimes– like when I’m taking attendance– I really don’t notice a particular behavior until my kids call me out for not disciplining it.
That is tough. My advice would be twofold. 1) Determine to deal with what you DO see. Even if you feel like you don’t have the energy. Now I know how hard that is, but you have to tell yourself that the effort you put forth now will really pay off and make things way easier later. 2) I would make more effort to just look around your room during the times that it seems like you don’t notice things (like attendance). So try to make a habit of looking up every 30 seconds or so. Or, find a position that makes it easier to see. For example, if you normally take attendance at your desk, stand in front of the room and do it at the podium where you have a better view. Or walk around the room.
What kinds of behaviors are you not noticing?
I agree with ones who’s say we don’t need homework
Hey, So I have this teacher, she in nice and all but she lets kids over rule her. She says she will write them up but she wont, the kids just keep doing what they were doing and all I can do is sit there and watch. What do I do?
As a student, there’s not much you can do except just focus on learning what you can & not letting yourself get distracted. It’s a tough situation….