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.