Written by Larissa Brown, TE Instructional Coach
“Okay now, hold my hand and let’s slowly count to 10. 1…2…3…4…5…You can do it. 6…7… 8…9…10. Now breathe. You said you feel angry. Now let’s get control of yourself so you can move forward.” I cannot remember the number of times I have given this type of support to my young Kindergarten students as they needed to gain control of their emotional responses to real world situations at school.
“Take a moment (count of 10) and breathe.”
I also cannot remember how many times I needed to say this to myselfwhen I wanted to let loose with some overly harsh words and personal emotions evoked in me by a student’s behavior or parent communication.
“Think. Breathe. Handle it well.”
The fantastic book Teach Like A Champion describes this practice as Emotional Constancy. Teachers who exhibit this trait know that they are the cultural leaders of their classroom and that students need to be able to experience emotional safety as they figure out how to manage their behaviors and emotions on their own. A teacher who practices emotional constancy keeps learning moving forward with her actions and mindsets.
Through this series of posts I would like to go a little deeper into the actions and mindsets that make up the characteristics of Emotional Constancy listed below.
- Controlling and tempering their own emotions
- Harnessing their outward emotions
- Tying language to achievement not their own emotional needs nor mainly those of students
- Taking the helm and earning trust by being in control
I would highly suggest buying or borrowing the anchor text for this post (Teach Like a Champion) along with the guide by the same name which goes a bit more into depth and gives practice for application of this technique. Emotional constancy is not just a valuable tool for teachers but it is also a personal habit of self-reflection and professional development that can apply to many arenas, professional or personal.
Let’s begin with with first characteristic of emotional constancy, Controlling and Tempering One’s Own Emotions
As teachers we hold an awesome responsibility. We design and define what will occur within the walls of our classrooms. To students these walls allow a space to receive, explore and define understanding of the world. They need to be able to learn how to navigate within these walls without fear or intimidation especially from the teacher who owns this space. As teachers we prepare and plan for the worst while expecting the best. In the same way those who exhibit emotional constancy anticipate what emotional responses might be a part of preparation. This fortifies them for when students behave in ways that do not align with their vision within the classroom walls. As the teacher maintains emotional self-control it frees up space to guide and support students through their own emotions and learning. Developing self-awareness of one’s own responses to student behaviors not only models skills for students it also helps to direct students towards more appropriate and desired outcomes for their learning, growth and desired achievement.