14 Feb Improving Behaviour in the Classroom
A parent recently showed me a classroom observation about her child’s behaviour completed by the class teacher. The observation listed 10 dot points and they were all negative. None of her child’s previous teachers had raised any concerns.
Reading through the list, I wondered how the observation might look if the teacher focused on the child’s strengths. What would the observation show if the teacher listed times when the child showed good attention? What if the teacher questioned why the child was more focused at particular times in the classroom? Perhaps the child finds activities and tools used in particular lessons more interesting and fun.
It is frustrating when children display ongoing challenging behaviour and after a while teachers can forget to look for the positives. On the flip side, children are disheartened when they think their teacher doesn’t notice they are making an effort to behave. Sometimes positive behaviour is fleeting but with patience and reinforcement from the teacher it will increase. The key is to catch children ‘being good’ and for the teacher to let them know that the behaviour was noticed.
I often conduct classroom observations on children for teachers, so I can provide some new ideas to help with their behaviour. Sometimes after an observation, teachers will express their frustration saying “I can’t believe it! They behaved really well today! Observations where children behave well provide a great opportunity to discover why the child liked the lesson. Identifying when positive behaviour happens, means we can apply similar teaching to times when the child is not on task.
By paying less attention to the undesirable behaviour we are reducing its influence in defining the child. Every child has strengths, we need to find them so we can build on them and nurture a positive, self-confident and engaged student.
Julie Steward – Psychologist