Classroom Management Failure # 2 – The Fatal Mistake of Being Likable



Teachers often enter our profession wanting to be liked by their students. Heck, I know I did! I thought that if the students liked me then they would be more likely to learn from me.

And, for the most part, that's true. I do not want any struggling teacher to think that they should not try to be likable to their students. The mistake many teachers make, though, is not being able to see the difference between being "liked" and being "respected." The difference is subtle but extremely important to being a successful teacher.

Over the years I've spent teaching, I have had groups of students who would like me one day and the next day they would turn against me! I've had students that hated me all year only to approach me years later to tell me how much of an impact I had on his or her life.

What's the difference? I think for me, when I learned to manage student behavior in a way that was consistent and respectful, the students learned to respect me. They learned that I would almost always call a student – any student – on disruptive behavior, and that my response would almost always be the same.

I did not yell, lecture, taunt, or tease. I simply relied on my system of classroom management to stop the behavior, to correct the behavior, to provide opportunity for re-teaching that behavior, and then to reinforce positive behaviors. The students came to count on my consistent response in order for each of them to be successful in my classroom.

I did not rely on some received "friendship" between myself and the students. I simply stuck to my behavior management system and reinforced consistently the behaviors I wanted in my classroom.

Do you know what happened? The students grow to like me! Not all of them, of course, but by far the majority of the students learned that I respected and valued each of them as members of my learning community.

And do you know what else happened? I liked them a lot more too! And I liked my job more as well! I began to look forward to seeing my students, to teaching my classes, to coming to work. When I finally stopped trying to be likable and started working to manage student behavior in a consistent and respectful way, the rest just naturally happened.

Does not that sound good?



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