Are Teachers the Culprits Behind Poor Behavior?
Many interesting observations have been made about classroom behavior, and what we're seeing is that the teacher's behavior often contributes to a climate that inadvertently fosters and creates discipline problems through certain types of management procedures.
How many of the following selected teacher behaviors that create management problems—rather than solve them—have you experienced or seen:
Always admonish behaviors rather than personalities:
Wrong: “I've had it with you, Carla. You're always late!”
Better: “Carla, your tardiness disrupts the class and makes it difficult for me to begin a lesson.”
Extreme negativity. The teacher's comments to the class are frequently couched in negative and/or highly authoritative terms. (“It's obvious that nobody knows what a theorem is. It looks like many of you will fail the test on Friday.”)
Excessive authoritarian climate. These teachers desire to be the absolute and complete authority figure in the classroom. All decisions are theirs. (“It's my way or the highway!”)
Overreacting. This teacher creates mountains out of molehills by escalating minor disturbances into major ones. (“I'm tired of your tardiness. I want all of you to write one hundred times, 'I will not be late to Mrs. Northwing's class.'”)
Mass punishment. These teachers hope peer pressure will result in a change of behavior for a few select students. (“It's obvious that Robert and Edwardo can't behave, so we just won't celebrate Linda's birthday today.”)
Blaming. This teacher often picks out two or three students and consistently blames them for every little infraction that may occur. (“Alright, who made that noise? Was it you again, LaToya?”)
Lack of instructional goals. Often teachers will engage students without a clearly defined or clearly understood (by students) goal for the lesson. (“Okay, is there anything anyone wants to talk about before we begin?”)
Repeating or reviewing already understood material. In an effort to make sure students are exposed to important material, teachers might constantly repeat material over and over again in the same way. There is no challenge. (“All right, I want you to look up the definitions for these 20 words, write them in your notebook, and then write them again on this chart.”)
Dealing with a single student at length. This teacher often disrupts his own instructional rhythm by spending an inordinate amount of time on one student. (“I can't believe you are still talking, Sierra. I've told you over and over and over again about talking in class.” [Five minutes of lecture ensue.])
Not recognizing students' ability levels. This teacher plans a lesson that is often over the heads of many students in the class. A single lesson is much easier to prepare than multiple mini-lessons. (“This is material everybody should know, so I want everyone to listen carefully so you can all do well on the exam.”)
A combination of these teacher behaviors can create and promote significant discipline problems in any classroom. Be aware that avoiding these behaviors will go a long way toward creating a climate of trust and caring that will significantly reduce and quite possibly eliminate misbehavior.