Out of my 3 mantras this may be the most controversial but it honestly has kept me sane all my years of teaching with children and teachers (family and friends too)!
When I studied to be a teacher, I learnt about behaviour management and since then it has changed its name many times to positive guidance and now social competence. At the heart is understanding how one’s behaviour impacts on others and or themselves. As a teacher, I believe that consistency is the key and that is where this mantra came from. If I knew in my head that after 3 times of either me saying something, doing something or changing something (not 3 of each just 3 of any combination in total) and nothing changed then you’re out.
But who was out?!
More often than not it was me. I would call for another teacher to support or try their magic with the child. It wasn’t ‘time out’ or any of its guises for the child it was time out for me. Now the 3 strikes and you’re out does not apply to actions where fists or hammers are used this requires swift, calm action and safety for those involved.
The interesting phenomena that happened is that children soon learnt that 3 times was my line in the sand or limit and tested it. For other children I often did not go beyond 1 or 2 saying, doing or changing. It was clear to me and them and I was consistent. This was helpful on the tired days or the everything just goes wrong days.
Now teachers were a different story when it came to this mantra and it took me and them A LOT longer to get the consistency. Here is how this rule came to apply to working with other teachers. I was in my third teaching position and it was the BEST, truly it was. I knew this and told anyone I could that it was when I started. BUT one teacher I worked with moaned. She moaned about small things and big things, she moaned about the weather if it was hot, cold or raining. She was a great teacher, had great relationships with the children and parents so I listened and supported her. BUT after 6 months in the job I woke up one morning and realised that I had started to moan. I moaned about small things, big things and I moaned about the weather if it was hot, cold or raining. I knew I had to stop and that her moaning was having an impact on me so I decided to try my 3 strikes and you’re out mantra with her.
I let her moan the first time and showed empathy as I had before. The second time she moaned about the same thing I asked what can you do to change it or a similar question. On the third time when she moaned, I had to be brave! I pointed out that she had said something about this twice before to me and that if she could or would not change it then perhaps, she needed to let it go because I did not feel it was good for me or her to keep saying things and not doing anything about them. I was clear that I would remind her that I would not hear about it again. It was hard to say and she did not like it. She too tested my consistency and I wasn’t always as strong with her but when I finally became consistent, she also learnt my limits or went to someone else. Again, I was out and in being out I stopped moaning and enjoyed my job so much more.
I use this mantra in my everyday life with family and friends. It can be more difficult like it was with the great teacher and I have my lapses or forget if it has been 2 times or 3. But some of my friends will say I think this is the third time I have said something about this and I smile and know they get it. I can then truly support them in change or letting go.