Explaining Yourself

I personally love it when a principal says, “Because I said so,” when I ask why I have to do some seemingly illogical task, such as wrapping my bookcase in paper at the end of the year. “Because I said so,” makes it SO much more likely I will happily follow the directions. (I hope you hear the sarcasm dripping from every word I am saying.)

Have You Ever Said “Because I Said So?”

Yet… I have been known to occasionally utter those dreaded words myself. Sometimes I’m just tired of constantly explaining myself and justifying my decisions to someone who has only been on the planet a fraction of the time I have. (And sometimes I’m just tired. After all, it IS May.)

Student-Centered Reasons

You can inoculate yourself against the temptation to say “because I said so” by creating a student-centered rationale for your classroom routines, procedures, and rules. The important words here are “student-centered.”  The question to ask yourself is: How will it benefit the students to do whatever it is I am asking them to do? The more you can tune in to what the students want, the more likely they will want to do what you ask.

Consider these examples:

Task Bad Reason Teacher Centered Student Centered
Put your name on your paper Because I said so I’m tired of figuring out who turned in what You want to get credit for all your hard work
Line up quietly Because I said so You’re giving me a headache with all your noise You want to get to lunch on time, don’t you?

You do not have to explain yourself every time you ask the students to do something. But it’s a good idea when you are first teaching them a classroom routine, and it’s also a much, much better reply when challenged than “Because I said so.”
Now go create a great day for yourself and your students!

Katrina Ayres, Positive Teaching Strategies

Additional Awesome Teacher Nation Resources


  • Create a Great Day for Yourself and Your Students
  • 5-Minute Classroom Management Hints
  • The Take-Charge Teacher
  • All The Ways I Screwed Up My First Year of Teaching
  • The Classroom Teacher’s Coloring Book
  • The Classroom Teacher’s Coloring Book, Volume 2

VideosAwesome Teacher Nation TV videos, including:

  • Why Threats and Punishments Don’t Work
  • Saving Time on Paperwork and Grading
  • 7 Strategies to Deal With the Pencil Sharpener
  • What’s the BEST Classroom Management Strategy?

Online Courses

  • Taming the Chaos: How to Create and Effective Classroom Routine
  • Making Money as an In-Demand Substitute Teacher
  • A Day in the Life of a Substitute Teacher
  • The Substitute Teacher’s Troubleshooting Guide

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