I loved being in the hallway. The hallway was my personal classroom. I did not mind sitting out there. In the hallway, I was not scolded, yelled at, criticized, or forced to do anything I did not want to do. I did not have to conform to the teacher's demands, and I did not have to listen to the sarcasm, criticism, or judgments about everything that I was doing wrong.
I did things intentionally to get myself kicked out of the classroom. I did horrible things, like question authority. I also refused to do anything I did not want to do, which were most things because most things were what the teacher wanted me to do, not what I wanted to do. I also used a little sarcasm now and then, which I learned from the teacher. But I did not get an A for that, instead I got kicked out into the hallway.
In the hallway, I got to daydream and live in my own world. I traveled to many places, invented many things, created many screenplays of fantastic movies, and was the greatest action hero of all time. They thought they were punishing me by kicking me out into the hallway. In reality, the punishment for me wasn’t being put in the hallway. The punishment was staying in the classroom. These early experiences helped me learn immediately that when I was in school, it was not about teaching, learning, relationships, or anyone taking an interest in me. It was about control and following someone else’s agenda.
Beginning as early as five years old, I was smart enough to know not to fight the system. That was a war I knew I would not win, and I did not want to waste a second trying to fix them or change them. I realized there was nothing I could do to change it. But I did know that if I acted out, I would be put in the hallway. Some students looked down on me. But my friends would pass me in the hallway and tell me how lucky I was to get out of being in the classroom. I knew that, and I knew how to do it. All I had to do was something simple like not do my homework, and when asked for an explanation, state "because it's not my homework, it's your homework." "Harry, go in the hallway.
It is a great strategy for work avoidance. And it was very easy for the teacher to deal with my behavior. Just five little words. “Harry, go in the hallway.” The teacher’s work was done, and I was in my happy place, away from them and work.
Believe it or not, this strategy still works to this day. It is very simple. Act out, get kicked out. It is easier to forfeit an education and someone’s future than it is to build relationships with students and allow them their birthright of free thinking. And it is easier for a child to act out and get kicked out, than it is to be forced to do something against their will.
Many teachers do not want to give up their power. They do not want to give up control. They do not want to put in the work of building relationships and getting to know their students.
There is no question that this has to change. And it is an easy fix. Relationships come first, and the child comes first in the relationship. Relationship building requires work, work that some teachers complain about because they do not want to put in what they consider “extra work because they believe they are already working hard enough trying to implement the curriculum.”
The time has come where these teachers have to let go of their feelings of entitlement, empowerment, and control of all decisions. People know that the more you incorporate someone into a decision, the more they risk the decision not going their way. That is why children are not allowed to participate in the decision-making process and are just told what to do, like it or not.
Children should be included in the decision-making process. It is how they develop critical thinking skills. It is how they learn to exercise their free thinking. The classroom belongs to the students. It is their place to learn.
The first thing a teacher should do is take an interest in each child. Put the curriculum aside and develop a relationship where the child comes first, and compassion comes before compliance.
When a child sees that you take a true interest in them, they will take an interest in you. You learn to negotiate through conversation, learning likes and dislikes, and offering choice through that process.
And remember this one important thing. Ostracizing a child when they do not follow your commands does unbelievable, long-term damage to that person. When you follow a decision-making process together, explain things for understanding, and work together toward learning, offering voice, choice, and options to everyone, things will flow. There will be no need to kick someone out of the classroom.
This is a lesson on mindset.
Mindset is the core of everything.
Changing your mindset, changes your thought process.
Changing your thought process, changes your actions.
Changing your actions, changes results.
Be the change that makes a difference.
Harry Petsanis, Donna McCance, M.Ed.
About the Authors
Harry Petsanis is a philosopher of human nature, mindset specialist, and lifelong fitness and wellness advisor. He is a writer and author, with three published books: “The Truth is A Lie,” “The Logical Path to Life,” and "Knowing Me from A to Z, A Child's Mindset," which he co-authored with Donna McCance, M.Ed.. Harry has a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism. He has an intense passion for psychology and the human condition.
Donna McCance, M.Ed. is a business administrator, writer, author, licensed teacher and principal/vice principal with over 25 years' experience teaching in elementary education and educational leadership. She has a Master's Degree in Education, Master's Degree in Human Services Management, Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration and Associate's Degree in Business Administration.
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"Knowing Me from A to Z, A Child's Mindset"
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