I had a quick thought this afternoon. Have you ever noticed that some teachers are afraid to leave their class alone even when they, the teacher, are getting annoyed and upset? I just realized that new parents do the same thing with screaming infants.
They try anything to soothe and quiet the baby. Pleading, rocking, singing, anything really except what they probably should do. My mother-in-law gave me some great advice when our son was born.
“When you get to the point when you are so sleep deprived and exhausted that you want to throw your baby out a wind (don’t do it by-the-way)… just put him down in his crib and walk out of the room for a few minutes to breathe. Your baby will still be screaming but he will be safe. Nothing bad is going to happen to a baby in a crib”.
Talk about an insight into my classroom!!!
I realized that I sometimes fell victim to the new parent syndrome with my teaching. I would feel the need to assert my dominance and authority over a class when they were getting under my skin. Yelling didn’t work, pleading didn’t work… come to think of it, nothing worked except for one thing. Walking out.
By leaving a classroom and just standing in the hallway for a few seconds, you can accomplish a few things:
- You take your students off-guard. They usually do not expect that a teacher will just walk out. Sometimes one kid will poke their head out into the hallways to see where you went. If that happens, just send then back in politely and tell him/her that you will be back in momentarily.
- You can exhale and take a moment to recenter yourself. Teachers are human beings and sometimes the safest thing of all is to just remove yourself from a situation that could escalate out of control very quickly no matter what you try and do.
- You can ‘reboot’ the moment. When you walk back in you have the option of letting your class start over with a clean slate. With kids sometimes fearing the wrath of a teacher, it can take even more guts for a teacher to reach out the olive branch and offer trust and forgiveness. It will help build a bridge to a positive class space for everyone, yourself included.
Give it a try and see for yourself. Nothing bad is going to happen for 45 seconds to a classroom of surprised students.