I was at an elementary school awhile back and provided coaching and strategies to each grade level team. While working inside of the conference room with one team, a small young guy came in and sat down with a shortened pencil. He was sent to the office because of discipline reasons. He came in huffing and puffing and was visibly upset.
This young lad was clearly frustrated with something. An administrator provided him with his work and he sat quietly and worked hard on his assignments. The more he dug inside of his work, the more his frustration softened. After 40 minutes of working, his frown was dissolved and was smiling. The administrator didn’t want to suspend him but wanted him to calm down. He was definitely in his happy place.
Later on, his teacher came to the office to visit him. The teacher was still frustrated and the body language showed. When the teacher spoke to the student, one could feel the #HEAT in the words and phrases. The student’s demeanor quickly changed back to frustration.
I paused and reflected. While observing the interaction between the two I was reminded of a quote by Haime Ginot.
“I’ve come to a frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element in the classroom. It’s my personal approach that creates the climate. It’s my daily mood that makes the weather. As a teacher, I possess a tremendous power to make a child’s life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration. I can humiliate or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis will be escalated or de-escalated and a child humanized or dehumanized.”
It took that student 45 minutes to return back to a place of work and being on task again. I wonder what would’ve happened if the teacher saw the student quietly working, and instead of lashing the negative energy towards the student, would’ve forgiven and honored the student instead?
Yes, your students work that last nerve sometimes. Yes, your student deserves the consequences for his/her actions. Yes, you may be frustrated from whatever the situation.
But you are the decisive element.