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.

Tuesday, July 6, 2021


Part Three of the Series Just for New Teachers

How to Successfully Support Difficult and Challenging Students

In an effort to help new teachers as classrooms are again filled with students as the pandemic crisis is beginning to abate, I've included some of the slides from one of my seminars designed to help teachers support difficult and challenging students. In Part Three, I want new teachers to look at some of the things that research tells us about students who as challenging and difficult. While drawing generalizations is not always the best way to approach any problem, the generalizations here may make it easier for you to see a student who may be disruptive and unruly in a different light--and thus make it possible for you to help that student succeed.

If you've ever seen a student who misbehaves in your classroom behave well in another teacher's class, the truth of this slide is self-evident. When you can view all of your students in a positive and friendly manner, then you are on the way to solving any behavior issues that may arise. Keep in mind that difficult students tend to have big chips on their shoulders and often do their best to create those negative feelings that they are all too accustomed to from the adults that interact with them. 

Of course, this is all too obvious. When students have work to do that they find interesting and manageable, they tend to focus on it instead of creating classroom chaos. Do your best to figure out the learning styles and learning needs of your students and design instruction that can make it easy for them to achieve success.

While every student should be treated with respect and dignity, it is not always easy to keep this in mind when your own teacher frustration takes over. One of the worst mistakes that any teacher can make is to cause a child to be embarrassed. When a child is humiliated in class, not only will that child find it impossible to learn, but the desire to lash out at the adult to caused that humiliation will be firmly in place. Respect the privacy of all of your students when you are dealing with discipline issues--in particular, respect the privacy of the students who need it most--those who are accustomed to causing disruptions in class.

The students in your class are far more aware of your regard for them than you may be aware. If you have students who have a long history of disruptive behavior, then you can expect that they are experts at reading your body language--constantly on the lookout for anything that indicates that you do not like or value them. Be as glad to see the students who are causing you sleepless nights with their misbehavior as you are the more compliant students in your class. 

It is not always easy to regard the troublemakers in your class as "fragile," but they are. Look beyond the tough and uncaring shells that difficult students arm themselves with to see the child who wants to succeed and be accepted.

Difficult students often act the way they do in an effort to hide their insecurities. They often lack school skills, social skills, or even basic manners. Yes, someone should have taught them these things before they were assigned to your class, but that didn't happen. It is up to you to make sure than the playing field is level. Model the courtesy and positive behaviors that you want from your students. Show them how to succeed--don't just cover the material.