In this Post:
- Managing behaviors in the classroom can actually be pretty simple.
- Every teacher is capable of managing behaviors in their classroom.
- When we think about behavior, we tend to think about rules and consequences, but it’s not about that.
- Our classroom expectations need to be generalized to the real world.
- Setting effective expectations is the one thing that can make or break your classroom management strategy.
- Natural consequences matter to students’ lives and directly empowers their behavioral choices.
Before I say anything else, I’m going to say this – I get it. You probably clicked on this post because you are wondering how you can possibly reach the one (or two, or seventeen) kids in your class that display challenging behaviors.
When we think about the kids that exhibit difficult behaviors, we think about the complexity of the issue at hand. We think of all the things they did today, last week, and last month that probably disrupted class or insulted someone. And while this analysis provides important insight into behavior, sometimes this complexity does not benefit us as teachers.
What if I told you that managing behaviors in the classroom was actually pretty simple- and that every teacher is capable of doing it (and doing it well)?
Realize How Good You Really Are
Every year when I am setting up my classroom, I put up a sign that says this: realize how good you really are.
It’s a subtle message to my students, and I believe it should sum up our entire approach to behavior. At the end of the day, one of our most basic needs is to be loved and appreciated for who we are. Feeling heard, supported, and empowered is vital to our happiness and is what sets us up for success.It’s about empowering students to meet the expectations. It's about holding each other accountable. And it’s about realizing how good you really are Click To Tweet
Our classrooms are no different. Our most successful relationships are built on a foundation of absolute trust and mutual respect. A child with behavioral challenges thrives when they have a solid relationship like this. They need to know that you have their best interests at heart, and most importantly, that you have their back. They need to know you respect and empower them to make good choices – and that you’ll hold them accountable when they make the wrong ones.
When we think about teaching and learning, we tend to think about the real-world academic and curricular components that go along with it. We try to empower students make their own choices and direct their own learning, choosing their own goals to blaze their own paths to meet the learning target.
But when we think about behavior, we tend to think about rules and consequences. About authority and compliance. About obedience and acquiescence. And it’s actually not about that at all. It’s about setting expectations and empowering students with the tools to meet those expectations in their own way.
Our classroom expectations need to be generalized to the real world. It’s on us as educators to realize that we are designing real-world learning experiences with antiquated behavioral expectations. We need to be honest with ourselves about our content AND our classrooms. The truth is, if it doesn’t matter outside of the classroom, it doesn’t matter.[scroll down to keep reading]
Setting effective expectations is the one thing that can make or break your classroom management strategy. If you want to know if your expectations are effective, ask yourself this: Do these expectations matter outside of this classroom?
Students intrinsically understand generalized, real-world expectations because it resonates with their lives. It makes sense to them, and they are more likely to follow them as a result. To make it easy to remember, I recommend no more than 3 expectations that have some type of common language. For example: Be Respectful, Be Responsible, Be Ready to Learn. It’s okay to put bullet points to further explain each expectation – just remember to make them relevant to their lives as humans.
Lastly, everyone in your classroom should commit to these expectations. If someone isn’t living up to them, don’t be afraid to call them out on it. And don’t be afraid to give your students permission to call you out as well. We are all human and we all make mistakes. Acknowledging those mistakes helps to builds community and create teachable moments that reinforce why these expectations are in place.
In reality, expectations alone will not provide you with perfectly behaved students. You and your students are going to make mistakes -that’s a given, but it’s the resulting consequences that matter.
Think about this example: if you say something you shouldn’t have, you recognize it, feel bad about it, and then apologize. The grief you felt from this realization was probably enough to teach you a lesson about your behavior. Kids learn about their behavior the same way – they just need extra support and guidance to fully complete the learning process.
Natural consequences matter to students’ lives and directly empowers their behavioral choices. They’re able to logically predict the outcome, and they tend to start engaging in positive behaviors as a result.
That Real-World Connection
When all is said and done, we want our students to be good citizens and contribute positively to their community and the world. And while that seems like a big undertaking, it’s not. It’s about empowering students to meet the expectations. It’s about holding each other accountable. It’s about the natural consequences. It’s about being loved and appreciated. And it’s about realizing how good you really are.
About Francesca Rivellini
Francesca Rivellini is a Middle-Level Special Educator from New Jersey. She is also the Founder of Riv’s Room, which strives to support teachers as they instruct students with special needs. In 2017, Francesca was honored with the University of Hartford’s Alumni Giving Back Award for upholding the ideals of education in her teaching practice and the community she serves.
Check out Franceca’s Teachers Pay Teachers Resources: www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Rivs-Room