PRINCIPLES OF DISCIPLINE & FOCUS
- GRATEFUL: I am very grateful that these young people give me their trust and that they put their belief in me, that they ask me for my opinion and that they value my guidance. I know how difficult it is to navigate through youth and through life in general and I focus on giving them skills to survive and excel, at the school and beyond. I am focused at creating successful individuals and not just passing exams.
- DISCIPLINE: I find that people today are in general soft because they don’t have the self-discipline of focusing for a period of time until weaknesses are strengthened. They rather moan, complain or point their finger at something / someone else… anything to try to slip away from the responsibility to grow or strengthen that particular weakness. I keep that focus on their behalf.
- I admit that it takes a lot of energy but in principle, once they know that I know and I know that they know, I will relentlessly point them out in that direction until they have nowhere else to go. It is then when, eventually, they click on the responsibility factor. For that, I normally have to get their parents on board, especially at the beginning, so that the students can’t play one teacher or one rule against another.
- CALLING: The only reason I do this job is because it is a calling or vocation. I believe I would not have the passion that is required to maintain my patience, good-will, positive mind-set… everything else I have mentioned in these pages. I actually think it would be unsustainable.
- There is a lot of energy spent in trying to hold your ground when students play up. I believe they don’t do it on purpose: it is just a growing up factor. I don’t think that I would be able to contain the energy that is needed in order to redirect, guide and re-establish the boundaries every time that they get out of line. There has to be an unconditional love for this job.
- PASSION & COMMITMENT: this calling makes my commitment However, I find that unless I develop efficient ways to do this job, passion, calling and commitment by themselves are not sufficient.
- Doing this job in ways that are not efficient would erode, disperse and dismantle the teacher’s available energy, simply because teachers (and parents at home) are the focus of the erratic and chaotic energies that the young display while they are trying to anchor themselves in the world. It can feel like being under ongoing attack on our level of responsibility, integrity and transparency.
- We have to be that light at all times: if we have any weak points, whether we openly display them or try to conceal them, young people soon find them and will do the job that they are so good at – pressing our buttons in an attempt to understand the established boundaries. The effect of this activity is to get distracted from doing their part, blame us for anything they can get away with in an effort to avoid taking responsibility.
- This puts teachers on a platform of continuous self-development: not just having to be on top of the lessons (e.g. teaching) but also having the capacity to self-correct, self-teach and self-maintain our own standards in order to avoid others to do it for us.
- RELATIONSHIPS – SOCIAL / COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT / STATUS: as teachers, we must be able to read people, pick up their moods, connect with students (and even parents and other teachers) in a meaningful way.
- We must be seen to have weaknesses and even accept them openly, yet we must be seen to have strengths.
- We must be the example at all times or people go off focus. We ourselves must avoid to be moody because the students would use it as an excuse not to concentrate.
- We need to be happy within ourselves in order not to attach ourselves to our students’ variable moods – after all, they are teenagers. We must be free of projecting ourselves on the students and make them responsible for that which doesn’t work in our lives.
- We must be able to express ourselves clearly and without innuendos that can be read wrong. We need to be transparent and stable within ourselves so as not to leave ourselves open to get played by our students, who are master manipulators (masters at finding weak points and pressing our buttons).
- LOVE FOR LEARNING & EXPLORING: as teachers, we need to have an inner need and passion for learning and exploring. Some teachers have the teacher’s syndrome where they think they know everything and the students don’t know anything, and this doesn’t do well in today’s learning environment.
- I find that if I give my students credit when they know their stuff (and let’s be honest, we are all strong at one subject or another), it gives them a twofold development ability: on the one hand, it strengthens their self-esteem and on the other hand, it gives them the opportunity to demonstrate their capabilities / abilities – a chance to shine.
- When I do this, I find that I learn from them not only about the subject itself but about the individuals themselves, and this is a great opportunity for me to read between the lines of who they are, what they want, etc, which helps me guide them on other areas.
- In my opinion, learning and teaching go hand in hand: you can’t do one without the other. When we put our students in a space and give them the opportunity to show us what they can do, they grow, sometimes on the spot, right in front of us.
- And if we as teachers don’t have the need to be right at all times and to prove what we know, then our students pick up on that humility and are able to resonate / relate to us as people / individuals, creating a much better space for learning and teaching.
By Dr Ana Garcia PhD, DTM.