I currently work as an English language school teacher at an academy in South Korea. My students are a range of ages from Elementary grade 1 all the way up to High school.
I was inspired this weekend, watching the fascinating and heart-stirring videos (I highly recommend you check them out if you can) again of Marshall Rosenberg, doing workshops of Non-violent communication, which videos I had not watched in quite some time.
It reminded me of the stunning beauty and possible efficacy of this process. And it occurred to me that I could learn from this, and try to apply a new way of dealing with my students, in an Non-violent communicative-inspired style.
It is very late here and I do not have time to go into details at the moment. But I will say that I already noticed powerful results, from the very first class when I decided to try to take on a more NVC approach.
I was already feeling a bit tired as had not had a great sleep the night before. And it was a noisy gaggle of 2nd and 3rd grade students mostly in my class.
But I decided to approach this in the way of being sensitive to, of feeling, the NEEDS in this situation. My own NEEDS — which were to have a relative level of peace in the classroom; and also I put out feelers for the NEEDS of the young humans around me.
I refused to see them as difficult — or worse, adversaries — and tried to feel what NEEDS (if any), might exist behind their noise.
It is hard to describe in words, but frankly what seemed the most powerful of this approach, was simply the INTENTION that I was applying. It was almost as if these young people could FEEL the shift in ENERGY that I was exchanging with them. I stood very still and soft and quiet, and refused to get “sped up” in TELLING them to “BE QUIET PLEASE”.
Rather, standing still and listening carefully to the noise or shouting that they were doing in my direction (not necessarily with bad intention), making eye contact and showing that I was listening to them —
at each moment that I was able to do this, there was an interesting subtle shift in these small boys’ and girls’ behaviour — a cognizance that I was not fighting with them, or trying to be AUTHORITY FIGURE teacher to them, but — what a novel concept — simply relating to them as another human being.
THIS seemed to have quite a powerful effect on the classroom atmosphere. Particularly early on, as the tone was set for the duration of the class.
It was not easy to maintain this stance, but it was not tremendously difficult either.
I even spoke to them, of my needs, and tried to listen to their needs.
Frankly, as there is quite a language barrier between us, this may have seemed foolish. But even if they did not understand all my words, it rather seemed that the energy alone — their feeling of my approach to understanding them from the heart, not from the head, or from norms or as a dictatorial authority — really changed the dynamic of the classroom.
And I certainly did not lose authority by this. If anything, I gained a legitimate authority, that of a human being, rather than just an incomprehensible teacher telling them what to do.
Anyways, this was just an opening experiment, and I hope to keep working on this and perhaps blog about my experiences doing this in future, as I seek to gain more knowledge and refine my method.