This is the first in a series of three blogs I’m planning to write about setting positive limits in the classroom.
How many times have you found yourself in a situation where you didn’t have the courage to say “no” to the students that you love?
What do you do when you’re really keen on your students but the situation urges you to set clear limits?
I’ve asked myself these questions a thousand times and I’ve concluded that:
(a) I’m afraid my students will stop liking me.
(b) As a student myself, I never liked the classes where the teacher was very strict.
I take pride in being a sympathetic, sensitive teacher and as such, I want to “spare the rod and reassure the child” (or teenage/ adult learner) about the pleasure of taking an active role in the learning process. I usually encourage them to overcome their fears and sense of ridicule, to speak their minds and defend their points of view.
I’m also aware of the fact that drawing clear boundaries and setting healthy limits, helps everyone involved understand the rules of the game, the space where it’s possible to circulate (and where it is not) and the necessary respect for their peers and themselves.
I remember myself in situations where I wasn’t feeling my own natural authority, I just bottled up my feelings and ended up bursting sometime later. I used to teach a lovely girl who was very cooperative and “very” talkative. She unconsciously dominated the class because she was fast and smart.
I was secretly growing tired of that and I finally asked her to be patient with her classmates (“please”). She told me I was too authoritarian. She also began bullying some of her peers. She obviously felt motivated by the class but didn’t understand my request because I had never asked her to stay calm and wait for her friends. Her natural reaction was venting her frustration on them.
As teachers, we need to be very clear and confident about the benefits of drawing limits. Learners may first respond with anger and they may even try to make us feel guilty, which is really hard to take. It’s easier for us to look understanding and loving at all times. However, our learners may be putting our authority to the test or they may even feel at a loss for what to hold on to in “limitlessland”.
Students not only need but also hope for positive interaction with teachers who have a clear idea about themselves and their roles, their subject matter and their learners.
What do you think? Have you ever found it difficult to say “no” at the right time?
Your experiences will feel me ideas for the next blog. Thank you.
Georgina Hudson blogs by Georgina Hudson are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.