Despite my white hair, I think I look better on the right!

Did you ever notice that when we discuss self discipline, it’s a good thing. When we discuss discipline in other terms, it’s a bad thing. This drives me nuts.

I remember when I first started teaching (we won’t say how many years ago that was), and I, like many I believe, wanted to be THAT teacher. The nice teacher. The understanding, ever inspiring, over the top, ducks in a row, relatable, empathetic, FUN teacher!!! I thought in order to be THAT teacher I had to be NICE. And I equated being nice to kids being happy in every moment. Well, was I ever wrong.

I learned the hard way. I made some kids happy, I’m sure. I let them talk. Let them work with a friend. Let them goof around while they worked. I let them play with a fidget spinner, play with slime, whatever. They were having FUN. I didn’t want to be mean. But then. I quickly realized, this was unfair to other students. Sarah needed quiet to do her work. Jack needed Sam to NOT be stretching slime all over the place. And honestly, I needed to get work done. I clearly needed to change my ways. So I tried being mean. That lasted all of 26 seconds because I don’t like being mean. But I needed order. I needed Sarah to have her quiet so she could do her work.

It took me several years, but I have learned that being strict does not equate to being mean. You can be extremely strict (like me) and be nice at the same time. Disciplining, and being disciplined, are not bad things. They are good things. They are for the good of individuals and good for the whole.

How do I do that? Well, in short, I say the rule as chipper and smiling as I can. It’s actually kind of funny and the kids get a kick out of it. And we are disciplined! We have order! It’s great. Example: “Mrs. R, can I work with Marcus?” me: “No, dear, sorry.” (said smiling and happy as if I just said yes. “But why not?” me: “Because, we need quiet for everyone. I would do the same for you.” Again, said happy, and smiling. Kids have a hard time being mad at a decision if you said it with a smile. Totally works. You CAN be strict and NICE at the same time. Strict does not equate to being mean.

Will kids test you and talk back? ABSOLUTELY. They are KIDS. Heck, even adults do that. Will you need to put your foot down. Darn right you will. And that’s okay. It’s your job. Teaching them and putting your foot down, disciplining, is a FORM OF LOVE. Let me say it again for those of you in the back… Discipline is a FORM OF LOVE.

We discipline our kids and our students because we LOVE them. Discipline is NOT a bad thing! If you don’t discipline your class, or your kids at home, they will learn from somewhere else and it will be a harder lesson. If you truly love your children, you will discipline them with a kind and loving heart.

Will it be painful? It might. But it’s temporary. And it’s normal. You will earn their respect and they, and you, will be better for it.

So go, and be strict, but also nice, loving, all inspiring… THAT teacher. It can be done.

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  1. Lisa, I am a grandmother now and looking back it was my ‘tough teachers’ that challenged me. Ironically they also demanded discipline in their classrooms as well.

    Best wishes,

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