A colleague came to me and asked if I had ever raised my voice to the students.
Yes. Oh yes.
Once, it was intentional. As a lesson. They were shouting at each other and so I shouted all my instructions to them. Moments after that, I called all of them, and asked them how they felt being shouted at. Most of them said they were surprised because I had never raised my voice at them, ever. No matter how they got on my nerves, I never raised my voice. Some said they felt scared. Some said they did not like it, being screamed at. So then I asked them,
‘If that’s how you felt, how do you think your friends feel when you shout at them?’
“But when we talk nicely, they don’t listen.”
‘Do you always listen when I or any of the other teachers tell you to do something?’
Silence, followed by shaking of some heads.
‘Do we shout at you?’
Silence, with more shaking of heads.
‘So why do you shout at each other?’
The second time, was not intentional. 2 of them really pushed my buttons and I just had an outburst. But right after, I called both of them. And asked them what they think made me shout. They soon realised (even though I shouldn’t have) that they were partly responsible for the incident. In the next class, they focused and completed all work and both got hugs.
I told my colleague, I have raised my voice. But! I reason with them after. There is however more to it.
I had built trust and understanding with my students. I have set rules from Day 1. Rules that both me and them have agreed upon. And everyone is reminded of these rules constantly. I spend time with my students. I take the time to understand them. I listen when they need an ear. I apologise when I make a mistake. I ask to clarify. I’m there for them when they need me to. I build trust and understanding.
I’m human. I make mistakes. These kids are humans. They make mistakes. To be understood, is to first understand.