Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Changing My Own Behavior First

In Adult Discipline, Not Kid Discipline from Practical Theory, Chris Lehmann talks about how adults can change their own behaviors instead of creating more rules. This change of behavior will affect the students’ behavior, which means less discipline is needed. He says,

“It’s one more way we help students focus on their learning, rather than wasting their time trying to figure out the adults and play “the game of school.” And again, it’s one more thing we can do that will have its most profound effect on the kids who have historically been least served by school.”

This is a prime example of how we can change our own behavior better than we can directly change others. This change in ourselves will affect others though and hopefully, if we do it effectively, this can be a positive change for all.

I remember many times have a situation with a student when I asked him a question about his classwork and he was in a bad mood which caused him to blow up at me. This made the whole situation escalate into a major problem. I was angry and he was angry so it turned into a power struggle. After we both calmed down and was able to discuss the situation better, I found out that he was experiencing some problems at home and he was not trying to get out of doing work. This had me thinking about how I act when I have some personal problems and what I could do to help situations like this.

I decided to have 2 small stuffed animals and explained to the class that one was a signal to them that I was in a great mood and all was well while the other meant I was feeling out of sorts. When the “out of sorts” one was on my desk, they needed to be a little sensitive and try not to push my buttons. I didn’t get that one out much (maybe once a year) but I noticed that once in a while, one of my students would ask if they could borrow it to put on their desk. This helped me when interacting with my students and kept the problem situations to a minimum.

I was amazed that this little shift in my own behavior could make such a big difference. I know it is very easy for me to react to students but I need to take a step back when there is a discipline problem and see if I can approach it from a different way. I want to think about my own behavior leading up to the problem and see if I can act differently to keep this situation from happening again.

Did you ever have a situation where you were able to change your behavior to help students behave better? Please share.

2 comments:

C Hurtado said...

Hi Pat,
Thank you for sharing your experience. It’s amazing how such a small change can make a big impact in the classroom climate. Last year I had one student in particular that would have emotional outbursts. I tried to keep not to let my emotion of frustration show, but I later realized that I was caring this emotion with me throughout the day and even when I got home. I thought that if I continued down this path, soon enough I was going to burst like my student. I began venting with my family about my student, then after I talking to them I felt so much better after just letting it all out. This got me thinking about my student and about how he might just need someone to talk to. The following week I decided to begin Morning Meetings. Morning meetings is when teachers and students sit together in a circle for 20-30 minutes and begin to interact with each other about things that are occurring in and out of the classroom. I have to say that the minute we began this, the entire climate of the classroom changed for the better. I began to learn and truly listen about the situations my students were going through. Hearing about their stories made me see them in a different light, and they began to see me in a different light too, a human with emotions as well. In a sense we were unloading all of the baggage we had brought with us, and as a result we all became more considerate of one another. My student with the outburst began to share his experiences in the circle and eventually stopped his outbursts completely and got better at articulating his emotions. Had I not changed the way I responded to my own frustration, I know that my student would have also continued to struggle with expressing his own emotion.

Pat Hensley said...

@C Hurtado Thank you so much for sharing this! It sounds like you found a great way to make the mornings successful for that student and for you!