May 14th, 2021 – by Christine Jacobs
I used to think that I knew everything there was to know about teaching and students. I’ve been taking a class recently that has helped me realize that there are always new ways to help students become more independent and take ownership of their behavior in class. Conscious Discipline has shown me that even when I become overwhelmed and frustrated, I just have to slow down and think and ask myself, how will getting mad at a student help in this situation, OR how can I help the students own their feelings and reactions? We’ve learned strategies to think differently not only about students, but about ourselves as well. I’ve learned that I have to be calm before I can calm a student. I didn’t realize that my reactions were so detrimental to my students and how they reacted was because of what I would say or do.
I was brought up in a big family where when your parents spoke, you listened. Since working in a Title 1 school, I have learned a lot and gained a new perspective about what some of our students go through at home. One of the most important things that I learned through Conscious Discipline is that for my students to want to do work and for them to be able to do so successfully, they have to feel safe. I never understood that safety was something that they didn’t feel. I thought all students came into school trusting and feeling safe with the teacher.
With Conscious Discipline, I’ve really sat back and started listening, really listening, to my students and what they deal with on a daily basis. I grew up in another era that this wasn’t a problem or it at least wasn’t for me. I remember my son telling me while he was in high school that his dad and I were very rare because we didn’t divorce. I didn’t realize that would be something out of the ordinary for some students.
Conscious Discipline teaches that there are three states of mind, the survival state, the emotional state, and the executive state. The executive state is where you want to be as the adult and where you want your students to be so that everyone can really think and respond appropriately in a situation. This is the state where students feel safe and connected and where they can become motivated to learn.
Conscious Discipline has taught me what true empathy really is and how to genuinely show empathy to others. I’ve learned that a school family doesn’t just mean you are in the same class, but that you truly care about all those around you and you know they care for you.
With Conscious Discipline, I’ve also learned that it is okay if you don’t know it all and lose it every once in a while. We are all human, but in order not to have chaos in your classroom, the important thing to do is BREATHE! Pause and take 3 deep breaths before responding whenever something stressful happens. You can also teach your students that when they get overwhelmed, breathing helps to calm you down. If I had known before, what I know now, life would have been so much easier and less stressful in my classroom. Moving ahead, I see Conscious Discipline having a positive effect in my classroom and in my personal life. Having positive intent around me (seeing the best in others) will only make my life and interactions with others better.
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