Discipline may be the most difficult aspect of a new teacher’s career, and every prospective instructor has a unique approach. Some are task masters, others are domineering, while others remain passive, and more styles are out there.
Mike Singletary, the new coach of the San Francisco 49ers, is learning what type of splash to make as the newly appointed head coach. He decided to be tough and in your face. After benching TE Vernon Davis, Singletary did not think Davis took the tongue-lashing to heart and sent him to the locker room. Later he said in a post-game interview regarding Davis, “I told him that he would do a better job for us right now taking a shower and coming back and watching the game than going out on the field.”
Numerous reactions and citings of Singletary’s actions have filled sports news, but I can’t help but think of a new teacher making an example of a student. Reacting with such a directed attack on an individual may endear the coach to fans (such bravado is often admired in football), but this same reaction to a student would instill fear in a class and push the attacked further away.
For us, emotion must remain out of the equation. We must be calm, steadfast, logical, and sympathetic while still maintaining the integrity of the classroom and keeping the students honest. Our reaction to situations is as important as, if not more important than, the students’ infractions and consequences.
One of my students remarked that he had never seen me angry, and I replied he never will. I don’t let my ego or self-esteem enter into a discipline situation, but that’s not to say I don’t get frustrated. I just hide it until later.
While Singletary may become somewhat of a hero to the common man, he may lose more in the long run. Why would an agent direct his clients towards a coach who singles out players publicly? Why would free agents flock to a team where they may be ridiculed in the media?
By this same measure, why would counselors and parents send their kids to a teacher who embarrasses students? Why would students request a teacher who openly critiques and mocks students? However, teachers use sarcasm and openly critique kids.
If I have no other worthwhile advice, I can say that keeping our emotions out of a discipline situation is critical. I have previously posted about my feelings on discipline, and I still feel the relationships we build with students will determine our ultimate success or failure.