There is hardly anything just as complicated as promoting positive behavior among students. Creating their own mini-society in which they set their own rules and choose their own leader, students rarely take school rules seriously.
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Mostly because teachers almost never consider understanding the students’ motivation for such behavior as an option, a number of conflicts are bound to arise between the school rebels.
However, with the help of a recent development in the given field, i.e., the appearance of the School Wide Positive Behavior Support (PBIS, n.d.), changing the students’ attitude towards studying and helping them adapt to the standards of the school organizational behavior becomes possible.
As a rule, there are usually several behavioral expectations that teachers have for their students. Often taken for granted, these expectations are not always self-evident for the students.
Therefore, teachers should not only explain students in details the nature of these expectations, but also comment on the latter (Stronge, 2007, 45). In addition, the number of issues on the list of the expected behavior should not be too big; otherwise, it will confuse the students even more and simply will not work.
For example, the most obvious rule for a student is not to disrupt the learning process unless it is absolutely necessary. The second behavioral expectation is to follow the teacher’s instructions as long as they do not threaten the student’s health.
Finally, a student is supposed to take a responsible approach to his/her studies and relationships with teachers and fellow students. Once a student meets the given expectations, it can be considered that he is ready to become a member of the student community.
Even though the rules and expectations listed above seem rather reasonable, they still need to be taught to students in an unobtrusive and at the same time efficient manner.
To convey the behavioral expectations for younger students, listing three principal rules in a strict manner and then shifting to a milder manner of conduct will suffice. In case of talking to senior students, a teacher should out a stake on honesty and sincerity without trying to sound too imperative.
However, each member of a student group has his/her own unique personality, which means that there is no panacea for each case imaginable.
When conveying to the students the necessity to comply with the school rules, one should be extremely careful, since picking the wring tone is very easy, and there will be no more chance to change the students’ opinion of the teacher, the rules and the school, as well as the opportunity to motivate the students.
When talking about something as personal as the manner of conduct, it will be reasonable to adopt different approaches to the students of different age.
For the one- to third-graders, it will be a good idea to create an image of a positive and a negative behavior by creating two fictional characters, the Good Student and the Bad Student.
However, a teacher must be very careful with offering students examples. Picking a particular student as a role model will be wrong – instead of following into his footsteps, the rest of the children will hate “the goodie-goodie.”
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For the senior students, it will be appropriate to have an honest conversation, during which a teacher expresses the key ideas of the right behavior.
It would be a huge mistake to underestimate the students’ intelligence or violate their self-respect, either being too condescending or providing the rules in the form of an order (Houston, Blankstein & Cole, 2009, 27).
Of course, it would be naïve of a teacher to expect that all students will be immediately filled with the feeling of gratitude and respect towards their teachers; like any other reward, respect must be earned. Thus, school rules violations will come inevitably.
Hence, specific error correction procedures must be provided for teachers to use. In designing these procedures, however, teachers should keep in mind that their goal is to make the student feel remorseful and willing to change his ways, not ashamed and willing to change the school.
To start with, a teacher must tell the student about the broken rules in a private conversation. Then, the teacher must be as objective as possible. Finally, the teacher must show that he hopes to keep trustworthy relationships with the student despite the given incident.
It must be admitted that collecting the data on improvements in such delicate issue is rather hard. It is a good idea to use anonymous questionnaires and opinion polls to collect the data on the program for encouraging positive behavior.
It is worth remembering, though, that it takes time for people to change, and that it might take long for positive results to appear.
As it turns out, the suggested method is highly likely to have a good effect on the students’ behavior. In contrast to the methods that used to be utilized before, the given means of shaping students’ behavior is based on understanding the students’ motivation and finding a unique approach to every single child.
Since the given approach does not make the students feel that they are being talked down to, they will supposedly accept the newly offered rules without many objections. Perhaps, the technique of encouraging positive behavior will open a new page in teacher–student relationships.
Houston, P. D., Blankstein, A. M., & Cole, R. W. (2009). Leaders as communicators and diplomats. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
PBIS (n.d.). Discovering school-wide PBS: Moving towards a positive future. [Video file].
Stronge, J. H. (2007). Qualities of effective teachers. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.