Oh, crisis prevention. You tickle me. But seriously, crisis prevention is a very serious matter. How serious? Well, just think if one of your students started running around the classroom with his pants on his head, yelling profanities about the education system. Pretty scary, huh? So, how does one prevent a crisis such as this? Well, I’ve come up with a handy acronym that can help you prevent even your biggest problem students from getting to this place: LEER. Listen. Emote. Empathize. Respond. By LEERing at your students, you can establish the emotional connection that adolescents so desperately need.
“Listen” may sound self-explanatory, but it’s a well-known fact that adolescents will run wild using “no one understands me” as an excuse. Don’t give them that excuse. Listening means not just hearing but understanding what students are saying and how they are saying it. You should also be listening with your eyes as well. Take notice of their body gestures. If your student is wearing his pants on his head, like our problem child above, then you are problem not LEERing at him properly. Remember: without Listen, you won’t be able to use the other parts properly. All you’ll have is “EER” which is really just a misspelled hearing organ that doesn’t work properly. You don’t want that.
To “Emote” is to show your students that you are listening. Maintain eye contact and smile to show that you care and you are there for that child. This unexpected reaction from an authority figure may confuse the child into silence, making your life much easier. Always make sure when responding to a student that your body language matches your words. Try to be friendly with your students, even if deep inside you want the entire world to burn.
“Empathizing” with your students is harder than it sounds for most teachers. To do this, you’ll actually have to put yourself in the shoes of an adolescent, something you probably thought you left behind when you went to college. Think again, teacher! You’re stuck in school again with a bunch of teenagers and if you’re the type that gags at those “darn kids and their music” then it’s time for an attitude adjustment. It’s not recommended that you as a teacher listen to Emo bands, wear tight jeans, and get piercings on your face. But you might want to understand this compulsion to do so. Adolescents are not adults and they don’t think like adults. Their brains are still forming and sometimes they may seem like crazies. It’s your job to understand exactly where this craziness is coming from, whether it be from a deadbeat dad or the rapid disconnecting of synapses in the brain that occurs at that age. It may not seem like it, but your adolescent students are very sensitive. Treat them gently.
The first three steps are the just the LEEward side of the mountain, a desert land without much cloud cover. “Responding” is your chance to bring the rain to your students. Like the rain, you should be gentle at times and harsh at times, refreshing or relentless. Unlike the rain in some places, you want to be predictable. Remember to emote properly and send the right message to your class, whether it’s that they are doing a good job or that they need to shape up. Often, it will be both, but always remember to tell them when they are behaving well as well as poorly.
Bruce LEE once said, “Empty your mind. Be formless, shapeless, like water.” According to Lee, there is no proper martial art. There is no proper way of teaching, either, only guidelines that one can follow or not, depending on what works for the individual teacher. How you LEER at your students is up to you, but I guarantee that opening up communications with students will make your class a better place, free of profanity and with everyone wearing their trousers on their bottoms.