The most important condition/behavior in my mind is a teachers inability to meet student needs; this covers several negative behaviors and conditions. A big issue is students who are bored, they can react in a few ways, including talking during lessons and trying to bring other students into this disruptive behavior, as well as not completing homework. I was bad about this myself in school, especially if I wasn’t feeling challenged by the material. So how can we as teachers help to prevent student boredom and the negative behaviors that happen because of it?
According to the Institute of Education Sciences (SEES) 2008 Practice Guide Reducing Behavior Problems in the Elementary School Classroom, there are two techniques that have strong evidence of success. The first technique is to modify the classroom learning environment and the second is to teach and reinforce new skills (Epstein, 2008). Modifying the classroom learning environment involves evaluating the classroom setting, schedule and activities in comparison with what the students are capable of, what they prefer and their skill levels.
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By doing this a teacher can identify the causes of misbehaver and make changes to reduce he factors. For example if you notice that getting students to focus right after lunch is difficult because their energy levels are too high, you might adjust the schedule to move a more physically active or engaging activity to this time period such as an educational game. Now the second technique, teach and reinforce new skills, actually offers an opportunity to help students to learn to behave in ways that are more socially acceptable. The idea here is actually behavior modification through positive choices.
A teacher will offer alternative behaviors to replace those that are less socially acceptable and each the students when, where and how to apply these new skills. A great example of this would be students who act by talking to others or over others; this is a socially unacceptable behavior that could be replaced with a plan of action that involves the student learning to raise their hand and waiting to be called on to speak. This technique was used successfully by a 1st grade teacher to help my friend’s son learn not to interrupt people when they are speaking.
She actually gave him five tokens and each time that he spoke without raising his hand he lost a token, at first it was 5 tokens a day. After a week of having at least one token left per day she switched it to 5 tokens per week. It took about a month before he had his first week with no lost tokens. Now, going into 2nd grade he has successfully mastered this new skill both at home and in school. Another need that is often overlooked and can cause behavioral issues or negative classroom conditions is the need to belong.
In our textbook, Building Classroom Discipline, William Classer’s Discipline Guided by Choice theory is covered and this theory states that the need for belonging can be met by involving students in class matters (Charles, 008). This is one task that I think is very important, many negative behaviors can be avoided with this one simple step. Getting students to buy in to a classroom discipline plan is the first step to success in my mind, say this because when a student takes ownership of a plan Or idea they are more likely to stick with it and be successful.
Power struggles, this is another big issue that causes negative behavior and classroom conditions. This happens when students feel like they are being forced to do things. Thomas Cordon’s Discipline through Inner Self-Control suggests that attempting to control a dent decreases a teacher’s ability to influence them in a positive way because it triggers their fight or flight coping mechanisms (Charles, 2008). The solution, use non-controlling methods and techniques to influence a students behavior such as I-Messages and You-Messages.
Mistaken goals are covered by Linda Albert in her Belonging and Cooperation plan and include a few of the misbehaver that are popular in the classroom, attention seeking, revenge and withdrawal (Charles, 2008). Attention seeking can happen when students do not have a sense of belonging, which is a genuine goal. The elution is one we have heard before, include the students in classroom decision making, but Albert also indicates that providing plenty of positive recognition will also help students to feel connected and a sense of belonging.
So as a teacher it is important to give positive feedback and recognition and I personally think that it is important that this be both public and personal in order to truly have an impact. The revenge aspect of mistaken goals can be both towards the teacher and other students; it is the I’ll get even issue. This happens when a student experiences a hurt whether it s real or imagined. The resulting misbehaver in these situations is often verbal attacks but can sometimes include physical attacks by the student who feels they have been wronged.
Albert suggests that focusing on the behavior rather than the student, addressing the behavior in private and controlling your own negative emotions all important to dealing with these discipline issues. Withdrawal is the one mistaken goal misbehaver that I think would be the hardest to deal with because there are many causes so the first challenge is to determine the true cause. Fear of failure is the cause addressed by Albert, but there is also boredom, developmental issues and home issues that could also be the cause.
If the issue is a fear of failure it can be overcome using a few simple techniques. Encouragement is big in helping students overcome a fear of failure, but so is switching up the assignments, alternating teaching materials and a big one to me is helping students learn to break things up into small steps and taking them one at a time. By breaking things up into smaller steps students get to experience success over and over as they complete each of the smaller steps which will encourage hem to continue through to the end of the assignment or project.
In creating a classroom management plan, teachers have to look at all their options and what has worked for other teachers as well as their students and their own personality. In looking at these different issues that can come up in a classroom I have found a few techniques that I know I will work in to my classroom plan. Almost every plan or theory includes some variation of involving the students in classroom planning, I think this is very important to both teacher and student success. A level of structure is needed, but that isn’t mean that it should be set down by the teacher with no input from the student.