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Why your best Classroom Management efforts might be failing

August 8, 2019

This guest post was written by Alyssa Blask Campbell, Founder of Seed & Sew. Alyssa has a M.Ed. in Early Childhood. Alyssa co-created the Collaborative Emotion Processing (CEP) method and now works with individuals, families, and organizations throughout the US and Canada to raise emotionally intelligent humans. Seed & Sew serves people all around the world with their podcast, now in 67 countries and a virtual membership which has folks from around the world in it. From getting quality restorative sleep so we can all show up as our best selves to digging deeper into the CEP method, Alyssa has the support you need to be the person you want to be, the teacher you strive to be, and the classroom leader you need to be.

Teachers often ask me, “What do you do for classroom management?”.

I respond, “I let my students know they’re safe to feel and to express their emotions in the classroom and that we are all in this together to help each other out.” 

“Yeah, but what about when they’re out of control? Or when the whole class is firing off each other?”

“Same thing. I validate their emotions and work to connect with them. We have a foundation of trust and respect, so just like in my marriage, when my husband is rude because he’s hungry or snippy because he is stressed about work, I want them to know that no one is perfect and to build their awareness around how they’re feeling and thus communicating.” 

…can that REALLY be a model for classroom management?

Raise your hand if the concept of discipline or reward/punishment was drilled in during your teacher education program, and/or reinforced by your school admin!

You are not alone. 

We often expect kiddos to reach a certain age and have the skills to process all the hard stuff life throws at them— from not getting invited to the dance to not feeling good enough as they receive another C in English. How many of you, as adults, struggle to process disappointment of leaving vacation to head back to work, or the fear of not being great at your job? Have you felt so infuriated at the system you’re working in that you’ve chalked it up to someone’s fault? 

Processing our hard emotions is really, really hard, and so many of us–and our kiddos in middle and high school today–didn’t get that foundation. 

A lot of the research and practices around building emotional (not just social) development are very new and aren’t even in play in a large number of schools across the country. Yet here we are, expecting our teenage students to have developed those skills that we never taught them. We fear that if we let them express those big emotions as a teenager, that they will model bad behavior, endanger others around them, or that we will lose control of them. The thing is, until we respect them enough to allow their emotional expressions and trust them enough to help them learn coping strategies to process the hard stuff, we will continue to spin on the hamster wheel, trying to control them while they feel so out of control inside. We will continue to tweak lesson plans trying to teach them differently so they can learn the material, when they’re stuck in their amygdala (feelings brain), not ready to take in information until they’re in their prefrontal cortex (rational thinking brain).

What if our conversations surrounding classroom management have been ignoring the heart of the problem? Can emotional processing really be a model for classroom management, and what would that look like in practice? How can we teach older kiddos how to process emotions, and how do we learn to process our own emotions as they bombard us every day in the classroom?

Join Martina, Alyssa, and Elicia LIVE on August 13th at 1pm EST during in the SOMOS Collab group on facebook for our final SOMOS SUMMER FUN CLUB to dive deeper into emotional development in action in middle and high school.

Guest posts on The Comprehensible Classroom blog are by invitation only. 

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