I had the great privilege of hearing Annette Breaux speak yesterday. She gave an inspirational, practical talk called, “How to Impact Student Achievement and Make a Difference.”
Over the next few days, I will share takeaways from her day-long presentation with the hopes that what she shared with us can help you reflect on your practices the way I’ve been caused to reflect on mine.
Annette told a story about a time she was late leaving her hotel to give a presentation. She was becoming more and more flustered as the minutes ticked away. When she finally got herself to the elevator, she hit the button and waited.
Only problem was, the elevator’s arrival time was not to her satisfaction, so she pushed the button again. Still, she waited. Finally, she did what most of us do when an elevator is too slow for our frustrated selves. She pushed the button, repeatedly and hard.
Needless to say, the elevator still took its sweet time arriving, no more encouraged by her final frantic pushes of the button than they were by her first. No matter how many times she pushed the elevator’s button, that elevator wasn’t going to indulge her. It just went about its business as it normally would.
In our classes, we need to make it clear to our students that we are like elevators. You can try pushing our buttons all you want, but the simple fact is: it ain’t gonna matter one bit. Like an elevator, we need to be impervious to attempts to make us arrive only as a student wants. We can’t let the students control us with their button pushing – imagine, as Annette says, what that would do for the others riding the elevator (ie. the rest of the class!)
Hiding my buttons (and not letting the visible ones be pushed) is something I have to improve upon. I can’t engage in arguments with the kids, nor can I allow them to take control of the class (if they’re causing disruptions).
So, I’m going to try to make it a point to smile more.
A smile can be very disarming. You’re banging your ruler on the desk? I’m still smiling. You’re refusing to take out your materials (more on that in the future, by the way)? I’m still smiling. You’re not handing in your homework today? I’m still smiling.
If we’re to be unflappable elevators, we have to firmly answer the challenges of our buttons being pushed.