A Personal Milestone

As teachers, I know we already know the importance of setting goals. I do this all the time. My goals are SMART too! But I have one special goal that I’ve been keeping close to my heart for years: the chance to mentor. 

Like many people, constantly battle imposter syndrome. For that reason I’ve been rather hesitant to step into any kind of leadership or coaching role. But when admin recently sent out an email calling for volunteers to help build a new internal coaching program at our school, I took it as a sign from God. I responded and found myself in a 5 hour training on a Saturday. I didn’t mind, though, because it means so much to me to have even the opportunity to help a fellow educator. 

To my surprise, though, my moment came earlier than planned! I’m friends with a first year teacher in my school. She’s a great person and I genuinely cherish the friendship. Like any first year teacher, classroom management has presented some interesting challenges for her. I’m honored that she is willing to share these struggles with me. 

One evening as we sat together over a table of chicken wings and a game of trivia, my friend shared again about how the boys in a certain class were giving her trouble. I don’t know why, but right then and there I launched into a detailed description of exactly what I’d do:

I’d line those boys up outside, and I wouldn’t let a single one into the classroom until their behavior aligned with expectations. I’d stand outside with the noncompliers, calling out names of students with appropriate behavior and allow them to enter. As they pass by me, I’ll tell them to read the board and follow the instructions there. On the board should be a detailed list of steps called “How to Enter the Classroom.”

Once I’ve allowed most of the students into the room I’ll have a little chat with whoever’s left. “I need you to do this for me,” I’ll say as I kindly and calmly request their appropriate behavior for the day.

When I finally enter the room, I’ll launch into another slide in my Expectations Presentation called “How to Listen when Someone is Talking.” I’ll go over a slide with expectations for each task of the day, and the moment expectations are apparently forgotten, I’ll go right back over it AGAIN. AND AGAIN AND AGAIN. We’re no longer teaching [insert subject here], we’re teaching how to act!

“Maybe I’m talking too much…” I begin to realize. I look at my friend, her fingers covered in BBQ sauce, and wait for some feedback. “What if that doesn’t work?” she asks. “I don’t know,” I admit.

I drop the subject, and spend the rest of the evening laughing and enjoying the company of our friends. I forget about my diatribe until the next morning when I’m sitting at my desk and my friend busts through the door. “I LOVE YOU RIGHT NOW!!!” she exclaims.

“What did I do????”

“Everything you told me last night, I did it. And it worked!”

She goes on to tell me how she’s never had a better day in that class, and shows me lots of pictures on her phone of certain impossible students working and on task. She’s so proud, but I’m prouder. I never want to forget this feeling, and I hope that God will continue to give me opportunities to help.

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Laney Lee
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Published by Laney Lee

I'm an American expat in Abu Dhabi seeking new ways to support teachers. I currently teach grade 7 science, run a Teacher Pay Teachers store, and am writing a book on classroom management.

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