You see, it’s that time of the year, where I’m tired, and I don’t want to continue repeating the same rules over and over. “We’re 27 weeks into the school year! Why don’t you have a pencil? Why are you talking without permission? Don’t run!” Aaaah. Teacher life.
But, I’m also at the point, where I know it’s more important for them to obey the rules than it is for them to like me. (Side note: I have a student who brings me a treat every time I punish him. I’m not sure if he understand it’s love, or if he’s trying to bribe me, but today I ate some deliciously stale vanilla Oreos) And so, when I should be able to watch them walk down the stairs and head to recess, I am standing at the bottom, reminding every child, “Walk. Don’t run. Walk. Don’t run. Walk.”
Oh, and then 6 kids thought I wasn’t serious, so they ran anyway. Welp, “Get your snack and come upstairs.”
100 sentences. “I will obey even when the teacher isn’t watching.”
“Can I write 25?”
No one finished in time. Bring the 100 sentences tomorrow or you’ll be back in here until they’re done.
….the next day
“I no can do my …”
“I can’t do,” I correct him. “Come back to see me at recess then.
“Can’t I just write I WILL OBEY.” nope.
And so, after much complaining, and moaning, I got my 600 sentences. And hopefully, the students will have learned their lesson. They did ALL walk today. So that’s progress. aaah, the struggle of consistency, but oh how it pays off.
(Do you know what I hate about consistency? IT ALWAYS MEANS more work for ME! SO unfair! Like this is my job or something?!)
So, once recess ended, I had a chat with the whole class. We talked about how rules are for their good and for their safety, and how their responsibility is to follow the rules. We make rules to help them, just like we give them work to help them. Sometimes the things that help us are hard things (Yeah, like when I have to be consistent with punishments!). I said, “Do you trust me? Do you believe me when I say that it’s for your good and for your safety? Or do you think I’m just being mean?” They all agreed that they believe me. They trust me. First of all, I’m thankful that in that moment I didn’t have any sarcastic kids who said no. I might’ve lost myself if one had. Anyway, the truth is, I really work hard to build a relationship with my students, to love them, and to earn their trust. So then, when there is a punishment, even if they don’t want it, they know I’m being reasonable. They know that’s how it is. So, the conversation went on, and I could see in some of their faces, that yes, they understood. And yes, they know I care about them.
I love when God hands me analogies that I KNOW will impact the kids. I handed back the English tests shortly after recess, and I told one of the boys, “You scored a 94, but can I just give you a 25?” NO WAY. “Pleeeease?” I begged. I slowly moved up to 30 and 40, bu he wouldn’t budge. This led me to say, why not? Well, because he earned that grade. And I used this to say, “When you earn something good, you want to own it, but when you earn a punishment, you act like you don’t deserve it. We all need to take responsibility for our actions, good or bad. If you earn a reward, excellent. If you earn a punishment, own it. Learn from it. Grow. Life isn’t about what makes me happy. What is going to make me grow? What is going to honor God?”
It’s not just one thing. It’s a lot of things. A lot of things I have to do to be the teacher I want to be. To be an example. To show them love. To show them Jesus. Consistency is one of those things. Conversation is another. I can’t just throw a bunch of rules at them and never have a conversation about WHY. Because it’s through the consistency and conversations that they will see … I care.