Knowing how to become an effective Character Ed teacher, even if it is not your job, depends on you taking your rightful alpha position among students. We have been considering ways to achieve the alpha position. Now we round out our study by considering the over-riding flag principle.
You know the definition of a flag: “a usually rectangular piece of fabric of distinctive design that is used as a symbol (as of a nation)…” “Flag.” Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 13 Sept. 2016.
In history, people used flags as symbols of leaders. A flag gained the respect due the person it represented. A flag represented the leader’s beliefs and authority. It represented the leader’s will. One leader – one set of beliefs – one will – one flag.
This “One-Flag Principle” is your goal. You hold the alpha position, beliefs, and delegated authority. You are the leader of your nation, i.e., classroom or home. You are that nation’s ONLY leader. You must ensure that everyone in your nation respect only your flag.
Many-Flag Principle (see picture above)
You face a challenge when you set out to follow the One-Flag Principle. Countless young people have learned to follow the Many-Flag Principle. They have learned to fly their own flags despite the presence of your flag. They have learned to challenge your authority – your will – your leadership.
Early in life, young people learn to rule parents with rebellious behaviors. Traitorous to the family nation and its leaders, they take over. Each child in turn rips down Father or Mother’s flag and plants his or her own.
Consider these examples.
- Mother plants the parental flag by saying, “Pick up your toys. It’s time for bed. Instead, Leon plants his own flag. “No!” he shouts, refusing parental authority and leadership. Mother begins picking up the toys – or bribes Leon with a snack. This scene repeats every evening, and soon Leon learns to plant his own flag more often and in more parts of the home. Leon’s will rules in more instances, as does his flag.
- Rocio learns at an early age to respect the parental flag, but then Baby arrives. Baby plants his flag the first day. He cries for no reason, but stops when someone goes to his crib. Rocio becomes jealous. She plants her own flag beside Baby’s flag. Each time someone goes to Baby, Rocio goes. When someone picks up Baby, Rocio demands to be picked up. Soon, Rocio plants her flag everywhere. Rocio forces her will, her leadership on the home in a growing number of situations.
In the school, young people follow the same Many-Flag Principle they practiced as toddlers. They exhibit little or no respect for the teacher’s authority or leadership. They care nothing for the teachers beliefs and ideals – refuse to fall into line with the teacher’s will.
Instead, each one goes around planting his or her flags to claim leadership. Many teachers have no idea how to regain control. They scream, plead, and sometimes throw their own tantrums. As a last resort, they send the flag-planters to the principal’s office.
What can you do?
How to Keep ONLY Your Flag Flying
Pull together all we learned in this series of five articles and you will keep your flag flying unchallenged in your realm!
- Take the alpha position. Exert a peaceful, confident, consistent, strength that students recognize. Make your leadership obvious. Alpha teachers enter and exit rooms first. Alpha teachers exercise exemplary character first, and students mimic it. Alpha teachers speak and students listen respectfully. Without thinking it through, students follow alpha teachers’ lead. Students surrender to the will of an alpha teacher.
- Build into your own life a sturdy flagpole of peacefulness, confidence, and consistency. Build these three character traits with daily exercise. Act with these three character traits constantly in every teacher-student situation. Keep them on your “high-flying flag” so students will see them.
Let me close with the story of a second boy who was sent to my office. I’ll call him Ethan. This boy was the opposite of Jeremy in many, many ways. Ethan, too, was in Grade 6. However, whereas Jeremy was a towering 16-year-old, Ethan was a diminutive 11-year-old. Whereas Jeremy exhibited the attitude of a full-grown, ill-treated Rottweiler, Ethan’s attitude was that of a wriggly little Labrador puppy.
Happy-go-lucky as he seemed, however, Ethan lived a troubled life. The numerous offenses that sent Ethan to my office repeatedly included a pistol, illegal drugs, a knife, and classroom fights with larger boys. I always insisted firmly on the One-Flag Principle in my office, and Ethan fought my flag at first. He tried to cajole me into letting him off the hook, but I showed him the same firmness I showed every student.
At the end of the school term, I left that school. The students did not know if I was staying or leaving, and most of them did not care. When classes resumed the next year, however, Ethan cried because I would no longer be there.
“She was the only person that ever loved me,” he said.