Monday, August 23, 2021

 Tenth and Last in a Series Just for New Teachers

A Few Things to Keep in Mind When Dealing with Difficult and Challenging Students

Several times I have mentioned that the slides here come from the seminars I presented before the pandemic changed everything. I have to admit that it was fun to be in a large room with lots of fellow educators sharing ideas about how to help every student succeed. It was not as much fun as being in a classroom with young students, but it was fun. It has been encouraging lately to see posts across a variety of social media platforms where teachers expressed their joy and excitement at finally being reunited with students in a classroom setting. I wish that same joy and excitement to every reader of this series. Many challenges lie ahead but by nature, teachers are resilient beings. You can do this.

In this little series of slides, I hit some of the basics of successfully resolving conflicts with students. 

Hope this helps you have the BEST SCHOOL YEAR EVER!

Sunday, August 15, 2021

 Part Nine of a Series Just for New teachers

Let the Cause of the Misbehavior Guide Your Reaction

In this series of posts, I offer suggestions to new teachers for ways to manage and support students who may be challenging, difficult, and disruptive. The suggestions here come from the presentations I made in pre-pandemic times when I was fortunate enough to spend days at a time working with rooms filled with teachers. I am looking forward to the time when we can all safely gather in large groups to share ideas and strategies again. However, until that time comes around, here is some information that may help you deal successfully with your students so that you and they can have a positive and productive school year.

If you want to help students develop the behaviors that will allow them to succeed in school and to learn to self-regulate their actions, you first must consider what is causing them to choose the behaviors that they are exhibiting in your class. Here are are few suggestions for looking beyond the misbehavior to discover the cause that can eventually lead to a successful resolution of the problem.

Sunday, August 8, 2021

 Part Eight of a Series Just for New Teachers

 Some Suggestions for Successful Interventions

One of the most difficult skills to develop as a new teacher is learning to intervene successfully when a student misbehaves. It is very easy to overreact or to react in anger and frustration or to just react without thinking through the end result of what your intervention could cause. The art of intervening effectively when there is a behavior incident takes time and practice and planning. Here are a few suggestions for how to think about making the kind of interventions that will make your classroom a peaceful and productive place for your students and for yourself. 

When a student misbehaves, it helps to think about the choices that you have when you intervene. There are really only two choices that you have once you decide not to ignore the problem and to take action. 

Although you have two choices, it is important to be clear about when you want to act. Here are some easy guidelines to help you think through what to do. 

Here are some of the easiest mistakes to make (and to avoid) when you are enforcing consequences. The one that teachers have reported to me that they find the hardest to avoid is to waiting for a response. Issuing a directive and then waiting impatiently for a student to comply is not helpful. Instead, calmly state the consequence and then turn away--giving the student a moment or two to process the consequence, overcome reluctance, and then comply. 

One of the most effective tools that teachers have in enforcing consequences to to issue a warning. While warnings can be effective, they lose their power if they are overused. 

Finally, one of the most frequently asked questions that teachers asked me in seminars was what to do when students don't seem to care about the consequences that they were given. Here are some questions to ask yourself if this happens in your classroom. 

Tuesday, August 3, 2021


Part Seven of a Series Just for New Teachers

Think Through the Problem to Reduce the Tension

In a continuing series designed with new teachers in mind, I've decided to share some slides from the seminars about how to successfully support and manage difficult and challenging students I presented pre-pandemic. In this week's post, I think it is first important to see the cycle that most classroom misbehavior follows so that you can figure out how to stop the cycle and get your students working successfully and productively. 

One of the most important aspects of breaking the cycle of misbehavior comes from thinking through the reasons that a student would misbehave in your class. To do this, ask yourself what a student would gain from misbehavior and then consider all of the ways that you can satisfy that need for the student so that there would be no need for acting out. 

Another thing to consider when attempting to break the cycle is to stay in control of your emotions and to approach your students with a calm, matter-of-fact dignity. You can always vent your frustrations later in private, but forcing students to have to react to your loss of control will not be productive. 

At  times when I was speaking with groups of teachers who were having trouble with the behavior of a particularly disruptive student, we would talk about the various ways that a teacher could handle a student who was spiraling out of control. Here are a few suggestions. 

Finally, think carefully about the timing of your interventions. Acting quickly can often keep small problems from exploding. 

Sunday, July 25, 2021

 Part Six of a Series Just for New Teachers

How to Redirect Students Successfully

One of the most important ways to help all students--not just the difficult or challenging ones--succeed is to redirect their behavior just as soon as it begins to veer off course. Learning how to do this in such a way that your students can maintain their dignity, focus, and standing among their classmates is crucial to maintaining the classroom environment that you want for your students and for yourself. In the slides below (taken from the seminars that I presented pre-pandemic), you can find classroom-tested suggestions for successful redirections.

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Part Five of a Series Just for New Teachers

Prevention Is One Key to a Productive Classroom Atmosphere

Although difficult and challenging students can be found in every school setting, one of the most important hallmarks of a classroom where all students are supported and valued is that many possible problems have simply been prevented. Veteran teachers know that it is far easier to spend the time and effort necessary to prevent misbehavior rather than to have to cope with the stressful aftermath of a behavior incident. In the slides in this part of the series, you will find a variety of ways to prevent or at least mitigate classroom problems. 

The first five slides below are self-explanatory suggestions for ways that you can help the students in your classroom succeed. 

Although teaching equivalent replacement behaviors should also be an obvious solution to classroom management issues, it is often overlooked. Spend time throughout the school year teaching the behaviors that you want from your students. For example, instead of allowing students to congregate at the door to wait for class to end, take a few minutes to teach the behavior that you want to replace it. Instead of grumpily reminding students to not gather near the door, instead you could have them run through the procedures you have in place for ending class: stowing materials, packing up their belongings, picking up trash, etc.  Or, instead of telling students to stop horseplay at the start of class, teach them the routines you want them to follow as they enter the room and settle into the day's work. 

Monday, July 12, 2021

 Part Four of a Series Just for New Teachers

Solutions Begin When You Care Enough to Determine the Cause of the Problem

If you are reading this post, you may have also read the previous three posts in this series written to help new teachers successfully manage difficult and challenging students. In this week's topic, the importance of learning the causes of a student's misbehavior is the key to successfully resolving negative behavior issues.

When problems arise in any classroom, unless there is a sincere effort to determine the cause of the issue and not just force compliance, no real solution can be created. All too often, because of the rush of class business and the press of the responsibilities facing any classroom teacher, it is hard to find the time to investigate the cause of a student's behavior and to deal with it in a meaningful and lasting way. To streamline that process, it may help to consider some of the more common causes of student misbehavior. Here are some that may help you as you work to help your students succeed.

Even though this is the first cause in a list of seven, defiance is a rare cause of classroom misbehavior. Usually the causes of misbehavior are more complex than just defiance. If your relationship with a student is so poor that the student does not consistently want to cooperate and does not care about your opinion, then it is important to mend that broken relationship as quickly as you can. A multi-faceted approach involving the caring adults in the misbehaving student's life is often the most successful path to reaching a productive understanding and creating a positive relationship. 

What often appears to be angry defiance is frustration. Spending extra time to make sure all students know what to do and how to do it well is worth the trouble.

Students are masterminds at finding gray areas to exploit. Gray areas occur when the classroom teacher has not planned for every possible thing that could go wrong. Examples would be the misbehavior that can occur when there is a substitute teacher in the room, when there are a few minutes of free time between activities, when directions are not clear, or when procedures are not carefully explained and implemented. Plan carefully and think through your class procedures. 

Personality conflicts do occur with great regularity in every classroom. Do your best to prevent them with diligent attention to the social needs of your students, but accept that this type of conflict will occur. Deal with each one as it arises with sensitivity and tact to help the student move forward.

It is not acceptable to rely on negative consequences or vague threats to stop classroom misbehavior. Instead, use a broad range of motivational techniques that are more positive than negative. Students are far more likely to stay focused and to engage positively when they enjoy the class and the work they are assigned to do. 

Social inclusion is one of the most important factors in helping students do well in school. Students who feel connected to school, to their teacher, their class, and their classmates tend to work harder and with more success because they feel that what they do matters. That they matter. Every student needs to feel liked and accepted by you and by their classmates. 

Students are not born with good manners and school skills. Often, just a few minutes of conversation between a caring adult and a struggling student will make the difference when a student just does not understand what it acceptable behavior and what is not. Even if you spend time during the first weeks of school going over the behaviors that are okay for school, expect to have to review them periodically during the year--particularly after holidays or long weekends.