|1) Teaching can be a stressful job.
I was in a classroom for 33 years, so I know. There are
more challenges and expectations than ever before, so
the stress teachers can experience will only increase. It
doesn't need to be as stressful as it is for some teachers.
Much of the stress is preventable.
2) Teachers mental and physical health can suffer.
Mine did for a long time before I learned what I can teach
you. I saw it happen to colleagues as well. Some even died.
|3) Teachers make mistakes with students
Sorry, but it's true, especially with the most troubled and
troublesome students who we can least afford to make
mistakes with. Kids come to school already struggling, but
we often miss opportunities to help them find their way.
4) Teachers are under prepared in some ways
Teachers are usually over prepared academically for the
subjects they teach, but under prepared to deal with many
of the challenges students present them with.
|What I learned along the way
|I had a really bad day many years ago. Some of my
students worked me over big time in one of my classes. I
was complaining to their counselor in the hallway outside
his office. He finally got tired of me complaining and said,
"Look Ray, it's your choice how you want to feel?" I didn't
take it well, but he explained. He told me about Albert Ellis
and Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy (REBT)
|I taught health education. I always knew that I needed to do
more than just pass out good information and advice. I knew
the ultimate problem was that too many kids generate too
much emotion. That's why I started taking classes in REBT.
The more I taught my students the "tools" from REBT, the
better I started feeling, and the more effective I became,
especially with the most troubled and troublesome students.
|The five "tools" every teacher (parent, police officer) needs
I taught the "tools" from REBT to my students for slightly
over half of my 33 year career. The second half of my career
was much better than the first half because of the "tools" I
had acquired in REBT classes. Teaching them to my
students helped me get better at applying them to anything
that got broken and needed fixing in my personal or
professional life, and to build something better for myself and
those around me. There are ten "tools" that make up "The
Mental and Emotional Tool Kit for Life". There are five that I
think are essential for teachers to acquire to start increasing
their effectiveness, and reducing any stress they feel. You
can click on each "tool" below to learn more about it.
As you become proficient at applying these tools to your
own life, you will be in a much better position to help
students with the many issues and problems they struggle
with. You will have the "emotional objectivity" Dr. Robert
Marzano says is so important to teaching, and the
"mindset" that's so key to having it.
You will have a better understanding of the problems and
issues that so often undermine student readiness,
willingness and ability to learn, and be taught. Those
problems and issues make your job harder. The vast
majority of those problems and issues are NOT simply
academic in nature. They are either defined by, or caused
by students generating a dysfunctional amount of emotion
in response to their life events in and outside the
classroom, and what they do to try to get relief from it.
They do that because of how they choose to think about
such events, themselves, others and life. The way they do
is understandable given that they are human, and what
their life experiences have been. But it's not helpful.
|Becoming more effective with students (your children)
A big part of why they generate a dysfunctional amount of
emotion is that they privately beat up on themselves. They
don't have Unconditional Self-Acceptance. You'll be in a
much better position to teach them how to learn to have it.
Another reason they generate a dysfunctional amount of
emotion is that they have an external locus of control, and
wrongly believe that what others say and do, and what
happens, makes them feel the way they do. Teaching them
to have an internal locus of control will help. You'll be in a
much better position to teach them how to.
Finally, many kids have ANT problems. They have many
automatic negative thoughts. You'll be able to help them
recognize those, and correct them.
Acquiring the five "tools" in your own life will put you in a
much better position to help them fix anything that's broken in
theirs. Helping them with their problems and issues will make
your job easier and more rewarding.
|Get professional training
I can do presentations or workshops to suit your needs.
They can range from 1 hour to a half or full day. I have
taught graduate level classes based on the "tool kit".
| Ray Mathis
Health Education Instructors 33 years Adjunct Professor - International Renewal Institute
B.S. Health Education Class titles:
M.A. Curriculum and Instruction "Tool Kit for Teachers"
75 Post Graduate Hours in counseling "Troubleshooting with Troubled Students"
30 in Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy (REBT) "Emotional Karate - Bullying Prevention"
Primary Certification in Rational Emotive "Mental and Emotional Vaccination"
Behavioral Education (REBE) "Life Skills - An REBT Approach"
Represents the Chicago Institute for REBT, 175 Presentations to schools, universities, groups, state and national
conventions for teachers, counselors, "Tool Time" group leader for at-risk students
Many years ago, Rudolph Dreikurs spent long hours
observing students misbehave in classrooms. He
postulated that when they do, they have one of four
"mistaken" goals. "Mistaken" because they would really
prefer to get along with teaches and other students, and do
well in school. However, in trying to achieve their
"mistaken" goals, they made it less likely that they would.
He called the four "mistaken" goals: Attention, Power and
Control, Revenge, and Avoidance of Failure. He believed
students would start with attention and end up at
avoidance of failure. Unfortunately, teachers sometimes
facilitate a student's movement through this sequence
without even realizing it by reacting to student misbehavior
in the ways they often do.
I recognized when I first learned of his model that "mistaken"
goals explained a lot of unhealthy, self-defeating behavior
we talked about in health education. I added one to his list:
Withdrawal-Avoidance-Relief. So many of the behavior we
talk about and try to prevent have the "mistaken" goal of
trying to withdraw from or avoid unpleasantness in life, and
get relief from the feelings that go with it. You can read
more about mistaken goals be clicking HERE.
Linda Albert developed a whole system of discipline based
on Dreikurs model. It's called Cooperative Discipline. A
teacher bases their response to a student's misbehavior on
what the student's "mistaken' goal was, rather than do the
same thing with each student.
|How to Approach Troubled and Troublesome Students
|Asserting Yourself with I Messages
I've always had a special spot in my heart for the most
troubled and troublesome students. They are the most
challenging for sure, but the greater the challenge, the
greater the reward.
When I retired from the classroom, I volunteered to teach
"The Mental and Emotional Tool Kit for Life" to the most
troubled and troublesome students at my wife's school. I
confident that it would work with them, and allow them to fix
anything that was broken in their lives, and build something
better for themselves. It did work, and It ended up being
one of the most rewarding experiences of my career.
There are twelves steps I took with those young men. I
believe they are the steps we should take with any troubled
or troublesome young person. Those steps are:
1) Promise them real power and control over, and in their
lives, and to make them smarter than others
2) Let them know you have Unconditional Other
Acceptance (UOA), and teach and encourage them to
have Unconditional Self-Acceptance (USA)
3) Offer them an alternative to beating up on themselves -
a nonjudgmental way to reflect on their own thoughts,
feelings and actions
4) Teach them about "mistaken" goals, and encourage
them to look for them in themselves and others
5) Help them see why change can be hard, and what it
6) Help them see and appreciate the role emotion plays in
their everyday life
7) Teach them to have an internal locus of control
8) Teach them to recognize irrational thinking in them-
selves and others
9) Teach them how to correct their irrational thinking
10) Teach them a step-by-step approach to troublesome life
11) Teach them to assert themselves with I-Messages
12) Help them practice applying the tools to their everyday
life - to fix what's broken, and build a better life
I believe it's important to do the steps in the order listed. To
read more about each step, why it's important, and what it
involves, please click HERE.
Many years ago, there was a book called "TET - Teacher
Effectiveness Training". One of the most valuable things I
learned from that book was how important the way you said
things to students was. It taught teachers the difference
between YOU Messages and I Messages. You Messages
are what people typically use. They include orders, threats,
put down, name calling, demands, and ridicule. People use
them almost exclusively when angry. They are also called
"solution" messages because they attempt to take away
from others the right to choose what they want to do. They
often involved pointing a finger at another person. For all
these reasons, they often end up being what TET called
"roadblocks" to effective communication.
I Messages start with the pronoun I, and simply give others
information. They leave it up to others what they want to do
about that information.
I've always had a simple rule as a teacher. If I am going to
say something to a student that he/she might not like, I
always force myself to start what I say with either "I" or
To read more about I Messages, click HERE
Dr. Robert Marzano says it's important for teachers to have
"emotional objectivity" when dealing with students. He says
the key to having it is mindset. It's easy to generate more
emotion than is necessary or helpful when dealing with
students, especially the most troubled and troublesome
ones. Anger is the biggest enemy of effectiveness for
teachers. It causes them to react instead of respond to what
happens. It makes them less response-able. That makes
them more likely to make mistakes. There's two ways to
Shame comes from believing you don't live up to
expectations. There are more expectations of teachers and
students than ever before. That means even more
opportunities to feel shame than ever before. Shame can
play out as anxiety. It can cause teachers and students
both to dread school rather than look forward to it. It's why
students shut down and eventually drop out. It's why
teachers get "burned out" and eventually
Most people walking the planet have an external locus of
control. They wrongly believe that what others say and do,
and what happens, makes them feel the way they do. This
needlessly puts them at the mercy of others and their life
events. That in turn usually causes them to generate more
emotion than is necessary or helpful. It's really what we
think about what others say and do, and what happens,
that really determines how we feel. We all have a host
ofcognitive choices that we make constantly that really
Long ago, Dr. Albert Ellis identified a pattern to irrational
thinking. He identified four basic types: Demandiness,
Awfulizing, Can't Stand It-itis, and Label and Damning. We
all have a right to want whatever we want. Teachers have
the right to want students to behave. The primary mistake
people make is to start to think they need things they
simply want, to treat simple preferences as necessities,
and to demand what they simply desire. This creates a
bigger difference between expectations and reality, and
will cause someone to generate more emotion than is
Every thought we have, or comment we make about what
happens is really our personal theory or hypothesis about
the way we, others and life is, or should be. The question
is whether the evidence of our past and everyday life
support our everyday theories and hypotheses. Or does it
refute them, and perhaps suggest better ones. The bigger
make something worse - do nothing and overreact. I like to
teach teachers a THINK-FEEL-DO thermostat model to help
them see how their mindset affects their emotional state, and
in turn affects their behavior. Stress is really anxiety.
Teaching is inherently stressful because we are expected to
control other human beings, and often held responsible for
their behavior. However, like anger, how stressful the job
seems is largely the product of mindset. Read more....
leave the profession. Low-esteem is really shame about the
past, and anxiety about the future because of it. Shame can
also play out as anger. It's why both teachers and students
get short with each other. The solution is to learn to have
Unconditional Self-Acceptance (USA), and Unconditional
Other Acceptance (UOA) for students, and teach and
encourage them to have USA and UOA for each other.
determine how we feel. Most people make these without
being aware that they do, and make them automatically
because of prior practice and rehearsal. Developing an
internal locus of control means becoming more aware of
these choices, and learning to make them in ways that allow
us to feel better. It gives you control over your emotional
thermostat. This in turn gives you control over your
behavioral thermostat, and allows us to be more
response-able. Read more....
helpful or necessary. For example, teachers often demand
obedience instead of inviting cooperation, and set
themselves up to find more to get angry about. Demandiness
naturally leads to thinking something is awful instead of just
unpleasant, inconvenient or uncomfortable. It also leads to
thinking you can't stand something you simply don't like.
Finally, we are more likely to label and damn a person (or
ourselves) rather than simply dislike their (or our own)
behavior. Read more...
the difference between our theories and hypotheses and
reality, the more emotion we'll generate needlessly. There
are a host of simple, non-judgmental ways to dispute,
question and challenge our personal theories and
hypotheses, or those of others. Read more....
|Cognitive Overreaction Prevention
In light of recent events in Ferguson, Missouri, and New
York City, I would like to suggest that what is suggested in
this website would also be beneficial training for law
enforcement officers. Regardless of the legalities of such
incidents, I believe it can be safely said that the outcomes
in these and other such incidents (death of unarmed
civilians) end up being, in hindsight, overreactions given
the original reason for the interaction.
I firmly believe that anger played a role in both, on both
sides. Getting angry is part of being human. We're
hardwired to do so. It's half of our fight or flight response to
potential threats to our lives. The problem is that human
beings can manufacture threats where they don't exist, or
magnify ones that do, by the way they choose to look at
things before, during and after life events where they cross
paths with other human beings. People can turn their
emotional thermostats up needlessly, which in turn will
make them more likely to react, or even overreact to
situations, rather than respond to them in the best possible
way. That's why we get domestic abuse, and needless
Mindset is the key to how we end up feeling, not what
happens. If we turn our cognitive thermostats up needlessly,
it will set us up for turning our emotional thermostats up
needlessly, and getting angry. One way to do that is for
parents, teachers, or police officers to demand obedience
rather than invite cooperation. That sets us up mentally for
finding more to get upset about, and to get more upset than
is necessary or helpful about things we don't like.
People can be trained to keep their cognitive thermostats
turned down, or how to turn them down quickly should they
go up. Events can catch us off guard sometimes, and our
brains can go on automatic pilot. That's why it's important to
learn how to turn them down quickly where appropriate. Part
of the reason is that once we plug into fight or flight, it will
take time to shut it down if the situation calls for us to. I've
read it takes six seconds. A lot of damage can be done in
that short time, especially if weapons are involved. Anger is
like emotional nitroglycerin. It's always better to prevent it
rather than try to manage it after we generate it.
|A FREE resource for teachers and parents from
Chicago Institute for Rational Emotive Behavioral Education