Friday, January 18, 2019

The Importance of Teaching the Behaviors You Want to See


How do you respond when students don't exhibit the behaviors you would like to see? Do you tell students they need to change? Do you lecture them about responsibility or respect? Do you complain to your colleagues about kids these days? Do you punish or reward?

How effective are those options? Telling doesn't work. Lectures create distance. Complaining doesn't empower anyone. And rewards and punishments mostly work only to get compliance and not to build better better behavioral skills.

But what would be an effective response to harmful behaviors? 

What can educators do to better address non-learning behaviors? 

Teaching behavior is better than just punishing behavior.

Teach the students the new behaviors you want to see.

If they aren't organized, teach them how to be organized.

If they aren't respectful, teach them about respect and how to show it.

If they aren't responsible, teach them new skills to show responsibility.

If they are distracted, teach them how to focus.

Break down any behavior into specific skills and teach your students the steps to successfully exhibit the behaviors.

How to Teach Behavior

1. Know your own expectations for your students. Have a vision for exactly what you expect. Know exactly what you want to see.

2. Communicate your expectations clearly. Be very specific. Over communicate. Explain why the behavior is important. Use stories and examples to make it clear.

3. Build relationships. Students will always learn behavior lessons better from someone that's trusted and connected.

4. Discuss unwanted behaviors with your students. Don't tell. Ask questions. Listen. Understand.

5. Give students feedback on how they're doing. Correct them. Direct them. But most of all, encourage them.

6. Facilitate reflection with your students. Ask them to think about their own behavior and how they are learning and growing. Track progress.

7. Offer a fresh start each day. Don't bring up previous mistakes except as a teaching opportunity but never to shame or gain the upper hand. Be patient.

8. Always protect the dignity of each child. Don't lose your cool and say something harmful. Don't use shame or guilt to motivate. 

How would you treat him/her if his/her grandmother were watching?

9. Review. It's always good to circle back around to important lessons about expectations and how things are going.

What if I don't have time to teach behavior?

Better question: What if you DON'T take the time to teach behavior? If you don't teach the behaviors you want to see, you'll spend much more time correcting issues that might have been prevented. Make sure your expectations are clear.

When you are intentional about teaching the behaviors you want to see, you are being proactive instead of reactive. You don't just wait until there is a problem. Try to see things from the student's perspective and anticipate what reminders they might need.

What do you do to be proactive about teaching behaviors in your classroom? Share your strategies by leaving a comment below or responding on Facebook or Twitter.

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