Knowing how to be an effective Character Ed teacher can give you great benefits, some of which we discussed in Part 1 of this series. Even if it is not your job to teach Character Ed, you will want to incorporate it into every other course you do teach. You can do that effectively only when you are in an alpha position.
Part 1 defined alpha position. It also defined three tools that will help you gain that rank in the classroom or home school setting. Discover them. Develop them. Implement them. You can become an effective Character Ed teacher – even if it is not your job.
Build the Alpha You
You are going to develop the inner strength of the alpha you by building and embracing three character traits: peacefulness, confidence, and consistency. Look at the first of the three.
Peacefulness – This character trait begins by recognizing the people and things with which you disagree. Then it acts to refuse their control over your attitude, consciously choosing to remain calm, quiet, and undisturbed. Let’s break that down.
1 Recognize people with whom you disagree. Think about your students. Consider them one by one. Write their names and an insightful paragraph or two about each. This is easy, so keep it that way. Mark those about whom you wrote negative statements with a single word such as “unruly”, “disruptive”, or “difficult”.
Example (name changed): A sixth grade teacher sent “hold-back” Jeremy to my office one afternoon. Jeremy, 6 foot plus in height and well over 200 pounds in weight, pushed angrily into the room – a 16-year-old giant in a class of 11-year-olds. Why did the teacher send him? Jeremy refused to pay attention. He resisted work. Instead, he pursued what had become his typical behavior: erupting from his seat into yet another fight.
We will continue our true account of Jeremy later, but you already have enough information to recognize the boy. You have read enough to know that he is one of the people with whom you would disagree. What word would you write beside his name? Write Jeremy’s name on a sheet of paper and write the word beside it.
2. Refuse control over your attitude. Do not let unruly, disruptive, difficult students or any other person control your mindset. You be in control. Own your mind and your feelings. Think of them the way you would think of your bank account or home. You own your bank account and your home, even a rental home. You would never give unruly people control over your money or your living space. You would never empower a difficult person to upset your life that way, so refuse them control over your attitude. If you have done so in the past, now is the time to take it back.
3. Consciously choose to remain calm. Remember it. Think about it. Quiet yourself. It takes only a minute, is easy, and produces serenity. Relax your body. Sit or stand straight, head up, shoulders back. Breathe deeply. Before you speak, take a deep, slow breath from the diaphragm. Pitch your voice a little lower and without excitement.
Not sure how to give your body that positive, calm posture? Try these tips.
● When standing, spread your feet as wide as your hips.
● Standing or sitting, pull yourself upward as tall as possible.
● Still feeling taller, relax your shoulders slightly.
● Relax your neck, tilting your head to meet an average person’s eyes without looking.
● Ease your body as much as possible while holding that posture.
● Keep your chest as normal as if you were lying on the floor.
● Finally, pull back your shoulders, but just slightly.
Try it now as you sit there reading. Consciously give your body a positive, calm posture. Stand and do it in a standing position. Enjoy your new calmness, your peacefulness!
So what happened to Jeremy?
Jeremy hauled into my office fistfuls of anything but peacefulness! The classroom teacher had interrupted him in the middle of a brawl. He was agitated and angry. He paced the floor, looking much more like a vicious wild animal than a human teenager.
Without raising my voice, I told Jeremy to sit down and wait quietly.
In part three of this series, you will learn Jeremy’s response to my peacefulness in the face of his unruly disruptiveness. You will discover how to use the same tactics to handle the unruly Jeremy, Esther, Daniel, or Megan in your own home or school.
The results you get from peacefulness will be strengthened as together we build up your confidence, the second character trait essential for those wanting to become an effective Character Ed teacher – even if it is not their job.