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Why You Must Stop Coddling Your Students

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The pandemic has wreaked havoc on our students.

Stuck at home for months. A year or more of lost learning. Socially stunted. Screen addicted. Anxious. Fearful. Depressed.

Pacing like a bear in a zoo.

Then poked, masked, separated, and dipped in sanitizer. Told their very lives are at risk from an unseen enemy.

And now?

Dreams dashed. Future on layaway. Hope hanging by a thread. Angry. Frustrated. Aggressive. Acting out.

But instead of giving them what they so desperately need, we’re kicking them while they’re down. We’re adding insult to their injury. We’re attempting, so it seems, to lose an entire generation.

And how’s that?

By coddling them.

Out of fear of hurting them even more, we in education have taken the foot completely off the gas. Behavior boundaries have been expanded or removed entirely. Despicable language and disrespect have been tolerated.

Academic standards have reached terra firma.

What I’m seeing and hearing from my coterie of informants is staggering. Lighter, weaker, easier, gentler, and softer we go. But, you may say . . .

“They’ve been through so much.”

“They’re still hurting.”

“They need more time to heal.”

Nonsense. It must end now. We’ve traveled so far down the placation highway that we may not be able to get back.

Make no mistake, our sense of do-goodery is going to crush our students unless we take a stand for them today. Enough is enough.

A few hearty teachers are already doing it. They realize that to save this generation they must shovel heaping spades of responsibility back on their shoulders. They must raise standards to heights unknown.

They must ask for, expect, and demand exemplary behavior from all students. They must set their boundaries in cement and teach like they’re blazing right back up that highway on a Ducati 1199.

This heroic few make zero excuses for themselves or their students and zero apologies for their refusal to give in to the soft mob cowering in fear, bubble-wrapped in protection, and calling for more and more straitjacketed guidelines.

Safety is important until it does more harm than it helps. Too much, too long, or too restrictive, beyond the common risks of living life, destroy purpose, inspiration, and motivation.

The very things our students have lost and need so badly right now.

For 99.99% of them, the pandemic is low risk. We know this now (and have known it). The overlords are admitting it out loud—CDC, NIH, WHO. So why are we treating them like a Pink Floyd video?

Take care of yourself, yes. Mitigate your own risk. But we took this job selflessly and all that came with it. No one expected this when we signed up, but neither did nurses and paramedics. Neither did restaurant owners, grocery store clerks, police officers.

We must step up before it’s too late.

I know it’s tough right now. Teaching is hard. But there is at the same time a remarkable opportunity. You see, when you become determined to give your students the responsibility, accountability, and purpose they need, you too are given the gift of purpose.

You’re given a life mission. You’re given drive and a chance to make a more profound mark on the world than if we’d never heard of Covid-19.

And in so doing, in putting your students’ needs before your own, your own stress and fear and thoughts of an unknown future will melt away.

Their behavior improves. They sit up straighter in their seats. Happiness and laughter return to your classroom. And seeing them overcome and then thrive will become a balm for your mind, heart, and soul.

PS – If you’re struggling right now, I want to help. Last week I posted a video explaining my commitment to answering any and all of your questions. Leave a comment below the video and I will get to your question in the coming weeks.

Also, if you haven’t done so already, please join us. It’s free! Click here and begin receiving classroom management articles like this one in your email box every week.

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