Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

Author Richard Carlson gave us some wise words to live by, “Don’t sweat the small stuff.” While this is great advice in life, it is excellent advice for substitute teachers!

Not sweating the small stuff doesn’t mean sticking our heads in the sand and pretending that everything is wonderful, or that we excuse or approve of negative behavior. It simply means that we have the patience and perspective to overlook the behaviors of others that are inconsequential, regardless of how annoying they are.

In the classroom, a large majority of inappropriate student behavior is inconsequential. Behavior such as a student tapping a pencil or doodling in the margin of a paper may be unnerving, but they are not putting students or property at risk. Nor are inconsequential behaviors significantly disrupting the learning environment.

When ignored and overlooked, most inconsequential student behaviors will cease. In fact, calling attention to such behaviors may reinforce them. Instead, focus on and recognize appropriate behaviors such as following instructions, working quietly, or completing an assignment.

“Don’t sweat the small stuff” means choosing your battles wisely, making a conscious choice between making a big deal out of something or realizing that it doesn’t really matter and letting it go. At times you will need to confront and redirect the actions of others. If you choose your battles wisely you will be far more effective in winning those that are truly important.

For more information regarding classroom management research and suggestions, I would recommend either this book or this ebook.

All the Best,

Jessica Smith

Substitute Teacher Trainer

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