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smart classroom management: why your new classroom management plan isn't working

So you’re stressed and fed up and decide to give SCM a try.

You click through our website until your eyes are sore. You read a couple of our books. You download one of our classroom management plans.

You take notes and study and deem yourself ready to roll.

The day comes and you teach your new plan to your students. You explain in detail. You model. You check for understanding and promise to follow through.

You’re certain you’ve done everything right.

And it bombs.

Not five minutes after teaching your plan, your students are right back at it; misbehaving as if nothing has changed. So what happened?

There are three possible reasons.

1. It’s midyear.

When through several months of the school year you show yourself to be one person, your students won’t believe you when you all of a sudden claim to be someone else.

Of course they’re going to push back. Of course they’re going to challenge you. Of course they’re going to pretend nothing has changed. It’s human nature. They do it because they don’t think you’re serious.

They assume that you’re just another teacher making promises you won’t fulfill—because that’s been their experience in the past.

2. You lack confidence.

Whenever you turn over a new leaf, whether trying a new diet or forming a new habit, it’s only natural to be unsure of yourself. Confidence develops over time.

However, your students can sense it. They feel it in their bones when you’re less than 100 percent committed. Show any weakness—tone of voice, posture, non-verbal expression—and they’ll know it.

To the degree you’re uncertain, your class will test you. They’ll force you to either stick to your guns or bend to their own demands.

3. You were tentative.

When you taught your plan, you were watching to see how your students were reacting instead of focusing on delivering your message. Without realizing it, you were hedging and softening the sharp lines of your boundaries.

You were lightening the shock of change. You were saying the right things but with caveats and qualifiers. You were warming them up to the idea of full accountability instead of sticking your flag in the ground.

But what this does very effectively is communicate to your students that they decide whether and how much they accept the new you. It opens the window of choice, which should be battened down and sealed.

No Retreat, No Surrender

In the end, none of the three reasons above matter.

Yes, if you mentally prepare yourself beforehand, fully commit, and teach with boldness and clarity, you can avoid much of the push back. But the truth is, and this is key, your students have to experience your consistency.

They have to be confronted by it, deal with it, and accept it. They have no choice. You prove yourself only through your follow through that you’re not the pushover you were before.

You can be nervous and fumble over your words. You can be the worst communicator of all time and do all three of the above and then some. And although it may take longer, if you’re consistent, you’ll get there.

You will get there.

So ignore your doubts and mistakes. Pay no heed to your second thoughts and fears that say that you can’t or they can’t. And just follow through. Show up everyday and do it, pushback be damned.

Accept nothing less than what you know is best for your students. No retreat, no surrender.

The truth is, they want discipline. They want high standards. They want to be part of something special. They crave it deep inside, beyond their awareness. It doesn’t matter who they are or where you work.

But you must survive the breakers to reach to the smooth glass of the sea. You must keep your eyes on the horizon, digging toward the setting sun, never looking back.

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