A priest friend of mine had a very interesting observation that he shared with us at Mass the other day. He was remembering when he used to visit the third grade class and teach catechism. He remarked that within a few minutes, by watching the mood of the class and how the students interacted, he could predict the spirit of the teacher. He told us that if the students were laid back, it was a guarantee that the teacher was also laid back. Similarly, if the class appeared uptight or nervous, the teacher had the same nature. He theorized that he could predict what any teacher was like by spending a half an hour in any class.
This made me think about my own teaching experiences. When I haven’t really wanted to be in class on a particular day, the class always seemed challenging. The times I was excited about the lesson, the class seemed to come alive with enthusiasm! It never occurred to me that I was setting the tone for the class and not the other way around.
I find this applies to life at home too. There’s an old saying, “When momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” I know from watching my own husband and children that I do indeed set the tone at home.
When my classroom seems disruptive and noisy, maybe I can take a picture of my own mood and see if the class is just reflecting back what I am projecting. It is so easy for me to blame others for my bad attitude, but am I taking responsibility when my own attitude negatively affects others?
Taking inventory of my classroom mood may give me insights into my own issues and help me correct them. Likewise, when my class is happy and thriving, I can thank God for helping me have a positive effect on my students.
- Are my students nervous or uncomfortable? (Am I nervous or uncomfortable?)
- Does everyone feel like they can contribute? (Am I unsure of what I can contribute, or am I monopolizing the class discussion?)
- Is there laughter in my class? (Am I enjoying the class and the lesson?)
- Is my classroom well controlled? (How is my behavior, am I organized and paying appropriate attention to all my students?)
Looking up examples of correct attitude in Sacred Scripture encourages better behavior and a better class spirit.
"The sign of a happy heart is a cheerful face.” Sirach 13:26
“Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer.” Romans 12:12
“Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord.” Romans 12:11
The next time I am tempted to blame my students or my family for a bad experience, I will first look at myself and examine the spirit I am projecting.