Behavior Serves a Function
"Ozzie", a freshman, is your average B student. Works quietly on his assignments, does fairly well on assessments, wears his uniform, I.D. around his neck but its been three weeks into the semester and I have never heard him speak. When I approach him one-on-one during class activities he responds with head nods, shoulder shrugs and forced smiles. Everyday I say good morning to him, ask him for input on the reading, bell ringers and nothing. I know he knows the material because I see his work. Today he was working with a partner and when I came over to check their progress his partner told me that he wasn’t participating. I told his partner, in my most stern voice, that if he doesn’t participate I’ll remove her and he could work alone. I didn’t realize how this behavior had been affecting me until today. It bothered me that he hadn’t said a word to me, nor his partner. I brought this up to my supervising professor and she kept asking me why do I want him to speak so bad? After my professor kept prodding, I realized it was my need for a relationship with him that created my poor behavior in class towards Ozzie. I should’ve practiced the A B C2’s of student behavior. Instead of putting a dunce cap on him I should be asking myself, is he ESL? Does he have an IEP? Low self-esteem? Practicing empathy and anticipating behavior would have stopped my stern almost condescending tone towards Ozzie. Needless to say I felt bad and he definitely will affect my practice. I’m going to begin a relationship with Ozzie through other means and increase his vocal skills by providing opportunities where he can feel successful of his work.
The A B C2’s of student behavior management in a classroom.
C2: Consequence (Consequence of the Consequence, thus C2)
The goal is to try not to get to the B & C.
Try to anticipate, the antecedent of the behavior, and take steps to prevent the misbehavior. In order to do this you must know your students, school, and yourself well enough to anticipate behavior.
Does your student have social or emotional problems? How’s the home life? Student’s hobbies? Is the student successful in other subjects?
Is this school culture hostile to the student (i.e. bullies, gangs, drugs, etc.)? Has the administration already marked him as a “problem child”?
What pushes your buttons? What behavior absolutely bugs you?
Reflecting on these questions can help anticipate student misbehavior and taking steps to prevent or reduce disruptiveness in the classroom. Try to avoid reaching the B and C as mentioned above.
Knowing yourself is vital. Knowing that Johnny’s indifference to your lecture really pushes your buttons will allow you to be more objective in your practice because his misbehavior wont lead you to react in a manner that will only create more misbehavior. Not allowing the consequences of misbehavior affect you will stop this cycle of poor behavior from both parties that only results in resentment and students being sent down to the discipline office.
Behavior serves a function. The function of languid or lethargic behavior may be to avoid work because the content may be too difficult for the student. Constant calling out may be the child's need for attention. This may seem obvious but what's important is your response to misbehavior. In other words your behavior towards misbehavior. Being able to recognize the function of behavior will, again, create objectivity in your practice and end that terrible cycle of going back and forth with a student.