Updated: Sep 18, 2019
Dysregulated students can be very hurtful. When you realize that students come to school with loads of negative baggage, you can stop taking their behavior personally.
IT ISN'T ABOUT YOU!!!
It's not about me. It's not about me. It's not about me. It's not about me. Make it your mantra, say it over and over to yourself.
Hurtful kids are reacting from a place of fear, and their negative outburst is a result of this fear, not a reflection of you. This has been the most difficult, and the most freeing lesson for me to learn.
Imagine your most difficult student. Now imagine what their morning is like at home... it probably isn't a pretty picture.
Did that student wake up alone, get scolded repeatedly, or told they are stupid, lazy, and unwanted? or worse? The possibilities are endless, and the fact is we don't know!
So, if the behavior isn't about me... what is it about? Now we can stop asking "How do we change the behavior?" and start asking, "What is creating this behavior?"
The student is doing whatever is necessary for them navigate their current difficult situation. As the classroom teacher you have an important choice to make. Am I going to do whatever is necessary to remove this distraction from my class? Or am I going to do whatever is necessary to improve my relationship with this student and help them find what they need to be successful?
I'm going to be honest here, (I really hate admitting this) but I have said these things... more than once:
"If I could just get rid of this one kid, my whole class would be better."
"Oh thank goodness he is absent today!" to my whole class.
And probably a lot more horrible things, but those were hard enough to write down. Besides, you get the idea.
Fortunately for me, my nephew taught me that
all students are important, all of them. Even the ones who are the hardest to understand and stay patient with... no, especially them.
They aren't throw-a-ways to send to the office or another room. They don't need to be put down or made to feel unimportant. They have families who love them and just need a school that is willing to love them too.
I am going to make a million mistakes as a teacher but I can now promise those mistakes will be made with the very best of intentions and with all the love I have.
It will be a lot easier because... it's not about me. It's not about me. It's not about me. It's not about me.
Just remember fear is driving the negative behavior and you are the most convenient person to take it out on. Luckily, we are a tough bunch, we can take it!