It’s one of the most common questions we get here at SCM.
“How do I start over after becoming inconsistent?”
The assumption is that it must be a big production. After all, the result of inconsistency is big misbehavior.
There is also fear associated with being consistent. In fact, fear is one of the biggest reasons for not following through.
The possibility that students may push back even more aggressively in response to starting over is enough for many teachers to continue to appease, coddle, and walk on eggshells.
Thus, restarting must be a well-planned event, right?
A date and time must be selected. Strategies must be ordered and mapped out. Words, tone, feeling, timing, and temperament must be orchestrated.
Nerves on edge. A sleepless night. Deep breaths. “Let’s do this.”
But it isn’t true. As long as your classroom management plan has already been taught, then it doesn’t take much to start over again. You see, in inconsistent classrooms talk is cheap.
Little of what the teacher says, even when it comes to academics, has much impact. Seventy-five percent at the least goes in one ear and out the other.
All that planning comes in handy at the beginning of the school year when you have a captive audience. But once you’ve proven to your students that what you say isn’t really what you mean, more talk means next to nothing.
So what should you do?
Take responsibility first. Then keep it short and simple.
“I’m unhappy with how things are going, and it’s my fault. I haven’t protected your right to learn and enjoy being in this classroom. But it stops now. From this moment on, I will follow our classroom management plan as it’s written.”
And that’s it. Review your plan if there is any misunderstanding about what does and doesn’t constitute braking your rules. Take questions if needed. But far and away most important is that you actually do it.
It is the only way to convince your students that you’re a different person. That you’re not a pushover. That you have the spine to make the hard decisions and be a leader worth listening to. Only then will behavior change.
They may indeed push back. It may get worse before it gets better. You should be prepared for that. But here’s the thing:
If you’re committed, if you’ve made the decision that there is no going back and you will be consistent even if it costs your job (it won’t), they’ll know it. They’ll feel it like a dachshund sensing a coming storm.
It’s in your voice, your body language, your very being. True resolve is unmistakable.
To be consistent, you must leap out of the plane. It’s a full-on, no-going-back vow of loyalty. Becoming consistent after not being so isn’t about perfect timing or preparation. It isn’t about using the right words or tone or strategy or anything else.
It’s about action. It’s about doing what you promised no matter the cost.
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