Have you ever wondered how to handle challenging behaviour that our students sometimes display in our classroom? I’ve done. That’s why I thought it might be interesting to share this post with some information about what I learned on the course «Managing Extremes of Behavior», which I recently completed.
From my experience, working in a secondary school, I realized how difficult it can be dealing with challenges students. I am beginning to become more aware of how common it is, at this level and working with this age. There are some disobedient, foul-mouthed students, wanting to challenge you, looking to get attention, insulting each other, who don’t pay attention or who are quiet but just won’t do the job you are asking them. They are just not interested.
I don’t want to discourage anyone. Teaching can be exciting, but the reality is that it’s not always easy. Therefore, the best way is to accept things how they are but also to try and improve and remedy them. If you really like teaching, don’t worry, but obviously learning how to deal with undesirable situations will help us to develop more effective and rewarding lessons.
However, I would like to emphasize, I don’t believe in magic formulas that convert chaos into perfection, but I believe that having some educational strategies can achieve greater control of the situation.
So what can we do to deal with these unpredictable situations? What can we do to make a difference in our classroom?
- Difficult doesn’t mean impossible. The first advise we need to implement is to believe in ourselves and in the possibility of change. If we don’t change our attitude, the situation won’t change neither. Attitude is everything.
- Types of bad behaviour in the classroom. What are these behaviours? Recognizing what may be causing the child’s behavior will help us to know how to deal with it. Naming helps us, for instance, to search for information online and guide us. The most common behaviours are: Attention Seeker, Power Broker, Bully, Clown, Aggressive, Uncooperative and Abusive. For example, if we know our student is an Attention Seeker, we’ll know that in these cases we should ignore the inappropriate behavior of the child, then the child’s tendency will be to stop using that resource and it will become ineffective. Imagine, if the child is kicking in the supermarket because he wants an ice-cream and you buy it, he will repeat that behavior. You just teach him that’s the way to get the things he wants when you don’t want to buy them.
- Don’t take for granted or assume that they are bad children. If a child is told he is bad and believes “I’m bad”, he’s going to behave that way. Therefore, you should not say «you’re bad» or things like that. Usually, they often behave worse with supply teachers. They’ll test teachers that they don’t know yet.
- Good behaviour can be learned. Teach children how to behave better by showing the way and manners with patience. You are an important role mode for them. How you act will have an impact on their behaviour. In order to solve it, you should ask yourself 4 key Questions:
- Where does their behavior come from?
- Where do they lead?
- What assumptions do we make?
- How do we respond to behaviors?
Be tolerant, smile and emphatize, but remember that you’re the teacher, not them.
- Enhance their self-esteem! It seems contradictory, right? However, misbehavior is not always due to selfishness. There are other reason why they’re looking for attention. Sometimes, these children feel frustration because school seems difficult for them, they have low-esteem or feel isolated. Therefore, they often think “I will never be good, so I’ll try to stand out because I’m bad”. That’s why when we highlight their progress and success their behaviour improves too.
- Don’t say please but say thank you. It is important not to appear as though you are pleading for their behaviour to change by saying ‘please’. But you still want to sound respectful so you should say “thank you” after they have done what you asked them to do.
- Reduce the use of the imperative. Make it personal. Use “I” to convert it to a personal matter. For example, “I don’t speak to you like that. Then I don’t expect you to do it to me” instead of “do that”.
- Control is just an illusion. It’s about influence! We must influence. If you establish a control struggle with your students, it’s quite posible you won’t be able to win. An alternative to constantly controlling them and focussing on their bad behaviour is to focus in the good. Effective teachers get their students to become “addicted” to positive reinforcement. For instance, “I really like the topic you’ve chosen to write, it’s very original “ or » What a good question. I think it’s an excellent contribution”. Remember to sound natural otherwise they’ll know that you want something else from these comments.
- Positive Language. This will be the structure: make it personal, use positive language and descriptive phrases. Such as “I really like the way you worked today”.
- They’re responsible for their behaviour, not you. Make sure they know they are responsible for their behaviour when they do something wrong and they knew the rules and the consequences. Make it clear that it was their choice to receive that penalty, not yours, because they knew the consequences and they decided to do it anyway.
- You need to have your own rules, be a rule giver to get authority:
- For example, 10 rules are too much. Try not to give more than 4 rules.
- Bring rules to each classroom.
- Try to write them with a positive language.
- In connection to the consequences it is better to speak about rewards rather than sanctions.
TIP! If you’re looking for extra information, maybe you’ll like reading “Creating winning classrooms” by Peter Hook and Andy Vass. This book offers teachers important insights into the emotional classroom climate necessary for successful and effective learning. Following from the first book, Confident Classroom Leadership, the authors present a range of ideas and understandings to support teachers in proactively building and sustaining an emotionally empowering classroom.