Model educational behaviors for students. It’s hard, and (I think) we all struggle.
As teachers, we know that modeling is important, and we want to do it. The struggle (for me, at least) is that “being on” makes you tired. I’m convinced this contributes to teachers leaving the classroom and why others are perpetually tired.
Being a role model is hard. Sometimes, sixty eyes watching your every movement weighs on you.
We still must be cognizant of our modeling responsibilities. Over the years, I’ve created a mental checklist, three ways that I check for myself that I’m properly modeling educational behavior (even though surely I fail at times). Here they are.
Model your beliefs about education. Society might not always encourage a positive view of education, but classroom leaders should. Lately, I’ve switched “today we have to ___” to “today we get to ___.” The change in my verbs is slight, but it matters. Students don’t always realize that education is not a given everywhere in the world. Some children pass through danger to arrive at school. Some societies forbid girls from gaining an education.
The truth? Our students do “get” to read, learn, interact, write, experiment. They are lucky! Challenged? Sure. When I speak of our activities for the day, I emphasize in my word choice and manners that students are fortunate to receive an education.
Model manners. The thank-you and please in a classroom might slip your mind. Still, when you model behaviors for students, they will repeat them. If you want students to speak kindly to each other, amp up your polite talk to them. Your classroom community and environment might change for the better.
Even when I bump into students accidentally (like in groups) or knock a pencil off the desk, I apologize, and then I retrieve it for them. That is how I want them to interact with each other, and so I model that expectation as I interact with them.
Model interactions with/about adults. I did not grow up in a household where adults interacted kindly with each other, and I am certain we have students in the same situation. When I went to college and began my professional career, this lack of modeling hurt me. I had few memories of positive interaction between adults, of watching adults work through conflicts in a positive way.
So! Don’t trash talk other teachers. I know that sounds silly, but I still see teachers negatively speak of others, and it is wrong for every reason. It is unprofessional. It is hurtful. It solves no problem. Plus, students leave your room believing that gossip and hurtful banter is the norm, when it should not be.
I also model behavior when I communicate with their parents. I am incredibly aware (as I’m sure we all are!) that parents show students emails we send. Parents share how meet-the-teacher night and conferences went. In dealing with parents, I naturally want to be professional, but I also consider that I am modeling for my students.
We teachers know that to model educational behaviors for students, we must behave with professionalism. With kindness. With basic manners. As the bigger person. And on.
Tough? Sure. You might be frustrated with good reason. Tell students you are not going to discuss the situation and move on. Be courteous to other adults, especially in students’ presence.
The expectation for teachers is that we will model educational behaviors for students. It’s exhausting, but part of the job. I run this short checklist through my head, and I find it helps my overall classroom management. Would you add another point to this list? What is it?
In another post, I wrote about modeling positive life behaviors for students, a slightly different take on modeling behaviors for older students.