I've seen too many students act out because they're simply desperate for attention. In my experience, it's better to give them positive attention than to have them act out to get it later. And when I say positive attention, I'm not talking about praising them for good behavior or academic progress, I mean talking to them about their lives, showing interest in their activities, hearing them out when they have something to say.
This mentality has served me very well, especially when working with underprivileged children. The "bad kids" are usually some of my favorites because they respond once we've established a relationship.
Do they still try to push boundaries? Of course. They're teenagers! But they also respect me when I set limits because they know it comes from a good (and necessary) place.
Last week, my coworker, whom I sub for often, told me she and our principal were talking about me. Of course, a statement like this always makes my heart flutter with anxiety. I think it's PTSD from the terrible, horrible, no-good, very-bad principal I had several years ago.
"Don't worry! All good things!" she assured me.
She said they were talking about how she's been out so much this year due to illness, meetings, and professional development, which she feels really guilty about. And then she expressed her relief in being able to ask me to cover for her because she knows her kids are in good hands.
This is the conversation she relayed to me:
Coworker: Thank God for Erin. It's so great that we have her. The kids really like her!
Principal: They REALLY DO!
Coworker: Even the bad kids. They act like jerks everywhere else, but when Erin is here, they're awesome!" she replied.
Principal: I've noticed that too!
Coworker: It's too bad she doesn't have a job. She needs to get hired. She's so good for the kids!
Principal: I agree! We're working on it!
Of course, this made me BEAM with pride. I knew what my principal thought of me when I was in my long-term position, but I had no clue what she saw/heard about me since that ended. Principals spend so much time in meetings or out of the building that it's hard to figure out what they know. It makes me feel really good to know that she sees the relationships I've built with our students and that the tough kids respond well to me.
She's told me before that she's willing to make phone calls to recommend me for any opening, but I also know vacancies are limited. I've been hearing things through the grapevine that there may be an opening in my building for next year. It hasn't been announced yet, but I'm holding on to that piece of hope.
Cross your fingers for me! This could be my year!