The best behavior management strategies prevent poor choices in the first place
Here are 4 Strategies to PREVENT poor behavior choices.
Treat Behavior Expectations Like Learning Goals
As adults we know and understand what expected and appropriate behavior is. It’s easy to forget that sometimes students are simply inexperienced or uninformed about how they should be conducting themselves.
We can help by explicitly setting behavior expectations alongside learning goals at the start of any lesson or activity. Discuss with students what the classroom looks like and what it sounds like when students are meeting the behavioral expectation. This helps them visualize acceptable behavior.
Take it a step further by letting them articulate how to appropriately respond to some of the common situations students face.
What do you do if you need to sharpen a pencil during instruction? What do you do if you have a question while the teacher is working with another student? What do you do if you finish independent work early?
Having this conversation in advance will prevent student’s who simply didn’t know the expected behavior from drawing negative attention to themselves and also prevent a student that does know the expected behavior from falsely claiming ignorance.
Be Data-Driven: Track positive behavior
Gone are the days of the cumbersome clipboard and eye-crossing tally counting when teachers used to track behaviors. Now being data-driven is easy using technology tools like Catalyst. With any device you can simply tap to track behaviors you observe.
Tools like these give you powerful insights into what really goes on in your classroom every day. When you’re tracking, don’t merely focus on negative behaviors. Tracking when the student is on task, helping others, rising to an academic challenge, demonstrating leadership, (and more...) will help you notice and celebrate positive behaviors more often with students. When positive behavior is acknowledged, it’s more likely to be repeated. Other students will observe the positive feedback being given to their peers and unconsciously mirror it too.
You’re also more likely to notice the behavioral strengths of a student that might otherwise be perceived as poorly behaved all the time. For example, “Johnny uses foul language too much- but wow, now I see that he is consistently working hard and helping others.” Pointing out to Johnny how helpful he is to others helps him see how important and connected he is to the classroom culture. This feeling of belonging will help encourage him to support the class’s success, and listen more sincerely when you coach him about his foul language. It will also lift your own attitudes about your class culture and likely help you engage with students more positively more consistently.
Identify Student Needs and Meet Them in Positive Ways
Students act out to meet social or emotional needs. Now that you’re tracking student behavior with an app, you can use reports that are instantly generated to highlight predominate behaviors.
Are the behaviors likely of a student seeking control? Seeking attention? Are they socially unaware?
Having insight helps you make informed decisions on what types of class building activities might better suit an entire classroom or how to meet an individual student’s needs in positive ways before they resort to looking for negative means.
If a student craves attention, give them the spotlight by letting them be responsible for a ‘brain break’ riddle or joke once in a while.
If a student needs to move around, give them a classroom helper job passing out papers, running an errand to the office, or collecting supplies.
If a student needs to feel in control, find more ways to incorporate choice into your lessons or how students demonstrate proficiency.
Using the behavior data you collected helps you make a more targeted prevention plan in your classroom.
Note Students’ Interests and Follow Up
You already know the power of building positive relationships with students. The challenge is maintaining over a 100 relationships all year long.
Whenever you connect and have a meaningful talk with a student, take notes and think of a follow-up question to ask them at a later time. You can use Catalyst or other technology to log in a student’s profile what you connected about, then it's accessible any time, in real-time.
Returning from winter break, a quick scan of a student’s profile reminds you to ask them something personalized like where they were planning on vacationing or reminds you to ask them how their play audition went. Having these questions primed keeps the relationship fueled because they’ll appreciate your remembering, reciprocate the caring, and feel more connected to you and their class.
About The Author
Thomas Jefferson Jr. High
Cara is a long-time middle school educator, currently teaching 8th grade science in the Chicagoland area. She has a degree in Elementary Education, as well as a Masters in Curriculum and Instruction. She is creating a better classroom culture using data-driven approaches to social-emotional learning, and applying the same rigor used for academic subjects.
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