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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Improving behaviour?

Improving behaviour?

Related Tags: Classroom Management
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14 Replies 1767 Views
I work in a kindergarten class with 19 students and 2 teachers, we are doing French immersion and about half the group understands French while the other half of them are beginners. It's now been a month since the term started and we are still having a lot of disturbances in the class. I have been reading the book "positive discipline for childcare centers" without much solace. We have a child in the class who has never been in a pre-school before starting kindergarten and who would climb up the curtains if left unsupervised. The child rolls around on the mat during circle time, screams in people's ears unprovoked and will just turn into spaghetti if you try to walk him over to his seat. He simply cannot stay in one spot during rest time, circle time or snack/lunch time. When you ask him to do something he will simply say/scream no but will usually comply after some whining and stomping his feet etc. The other day when he was rolling around in the circle making the entire group go wild with laughter I removed him and put him in the office with our director. He later came out and sat down to eat his afternoon snack perfectly still and quiet. However, the next day he does the same thing and when I go to get him from the office he tells me he likes it in there, and that he doesn't care about going back to the classroom. Does anyone have any advice on how to proceed? Our policy is not to do time out. The removal from the group seems like a logical consequence when the child is making it impossible to proceed normally and to manage the group. My hope was that he would want to return to his friends, to make him realize how boring it is not to be with his peers and to "want to belong" in the classroom. But if he doesn't have that motivation, it doesn't serve it's purpose. Perhaps he's just so smart that he knows to tell me he likes it in there, thinking I will not bring him back there. Every day I feel like I am failing. What can I do to improve this child's behaviour, seeing as how I am not supposed to reward or punish and no amount of calmly explaining what to do and how to behave seems to work. Asking him the what and how questions about his ideas for solutions for the problems we are having, usually results in him saying he doesn't want to be in school, that he should stay at home. I'm sure there are lots of very experienced teachers out there who have handled situations like this before, I would be incredibly grateful for your input. Thank you for reading,

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Dain Taylor's picture
Dain Taylor
Mi nombre es Daniel Taylor-Hola-My name is Dain Taylor-hello

Thankyou so much for the new website.

Ray Mathis's picture
Ray Mathis
Retired Health Ed Teacher certified in Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy

Check out Cooperative Discipline by Linda Albert. It's based on Rudolph Dreikur's "mistaken" goal model for misbehavior.

To pull off any approach though, you have to be able to get yourself into the best cognitive and emotional place. Otherwise, you'll make a lot of mistakes with kids. That's part of why I developed "A Tool Kit for Teachers" (www.itsjustanevent.com)

Ray Mathis's picture
Ray Mathis
Retired Health Ed Teacher certified in Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy

Alex Molnar also wrote a book: "Changing Problem Behavior in Schools". It's all about the role of OUR thoughts, attitudes and beliefs play in chronic problem situations, and how to change that.

Sue Hund's picture
Sue Hund
Volunteer Kindergarten Assistant Highland School, Craigmont, ID

Thank you for your answer to the question on bad behavior in Kindergarteners. There is one child who truly understands he is doing wrong, can explain what he did and why, but no matter what incentive or timeouts work at all. We have attempted many positive reinforcement tactics, but he will not settle down until he is forced to sit and control his crying, which is the result of being separated from his classmates Due to hitting and punching for no apparent reason, his answer, "They wouldn't listen to me.". He is smart, overactive, and enjoys attention immensley, but he wants to be 1st in all we do, wants to answer questions 1st, but doesn't understand he can not be the only one to answer. He's a nice boy, but he is seriously disrupting our class routine, which affects the other 13 students.Is it too soon for him to adjust? Our term started 3 weeks ago. Due to cut backs the co-teacher or assistant was withdrawn from this class & I volunteer for half days now. Our School District had to cut back our hours to 4 days/week. Kindergarteners go 3 full days/week. One last thing, I assisted with last years class as well and enjoyed his brother immensley, however he is developmentally disabled psychologically, he is quite, smart if kept at task and a loving child know followed the class routine without problems. As a nurse I understand these types of behavior may be genetic. What is your recommendation dealing with a problem such as this. Thank you for your time.
Sincerely Sue Hund

Ray Mathis's picture
Ray Mathis
Retired Health Ed Teacher certified in Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy

Sue, the most important thing you and the teacher need to do is manage your own emotional responses to what he does in a way that keeps you from getting angry. Anger is the number one enemy of effectiveness for teachers. It makes them react to events in the classroom instead of allowing them to respond in the best possible way. Anger can make otherwise smart people do stupid things. Teachers make a lot of mistakes with kids when they make themselves angry (note how I phrased that) especially with the most troubled and troublesome students we can least afford to make mistakes with. I'm sure you've seen this happen in your experience. I invite you to visit www.itsjustanevent.com to learn about "tools" you and the teacher can use to keep your own emotions in check. Frustration, and even irritation and annoyance is understandable. Part of being human. But anger is a qualitatively different emotion that comes from starting to demand obedience instead of trying to invite cooperation. It's easier to slip into being demanding with a recurring challenge like this.

One of the most important things to have is called UOA or Unconditional Other Acceptance. It basically means that even though you don't like what he does, you keep reminding yourself that in some way, given what he's been through so far in his short life, what he says and does is understandable. I've always said that if we took 100 kids and put them through exactly what some kid has been through, most would more than likely turn out the same way. Some might fare better, some worse (bell curve). He might even be a "glass half-full" instead of the "glass half-empty" that it'd be easy to start to perceive him as being. I often use the term "irrational logic". What I mean is that what he's doing is irrational in that it makes his life, and others, worse instead of better, but if you know what he's been through, and how he's come to think or look at things, and feel because of that, what he says or does makes more sense. Here's a link for learning about UOA.

http://www.itsjustanevent.com/pagethree.html

You also want to have USA. You may not always get it right with this child. He's presenting you with a lot of opportunities to make mistakes. Don't beat up on yourself. That will just make you ultimately resent him more.

A second "tool" that's vital for working with kids is to have an internal locus of control. Kids don't drive us crazy, or make us angry, or stress us out. We do that to ourselves by the way we choose to look at what they say and do. Many teachers bring pre-existing cognitive, emotional and behavioral "ruts" in their brains to the classroom that will cause them to overreact, get angry or stressed out needlessly, and make mistakes with kids. Here's the link for learning about developing an internal locus of control. We all have a host of choices we make all the time, usually w/o being aware that we do. Reminding ourselves of them can be very empowering.

http://www.itsjustanevent.com/Pagefour.html

Next, you want to learn how to recognize and correct irrational thinking in yourself. I promise you that you'll start to have some. Most teachers do, most without ever realizing it.

http://www.itsjustanevent.com/Pagefive.html
http://www.itsjustanevent.com/Pagesix.html

The point is that you and your teacher have to stay in the best possible cognitive and emotional place to be as effective as you can be with such a challenging child. Be careful not to start referring to him as a "problem". I urge you to see him as just an event, just something you have to deal with, like others do, like you have before, and probably will again in the future. Perhaps even see him as a challenge or opportunity to show how good you are. And I urge you to take pride in figuring out how to best do that. Whatever you do with him now can magnify in both good or bad ways years down the road.
You were a nurse. I was a paramedic. We both lived by the "first do no harm" rule. It's a good one for teachers to live by as well. If you can't make him better, at least don't make him worse.

As for strategies, I would urge you to google Rudolph Dreikurs. He develop a concept of "mistaken" goals. He said that when kids misbehave, they have one of four mistaken goals: Attention, Power, Revenge, Avoidance of failure. He contended that they move through that sequence if not handled properly. We don't want him to do that. Linda Albert wrote a book called "Cooperative Discipline" based on Dreikurs work. First you identify the "mistaken" goal, and then she gives you a whole bunch of strategies based on what that goal is. You should be able to get it on amazon.com. Be a great investment.

Another great book is "Changing Problem Behavior in Schools" by Alex Molnar. His whole contention is that in chronic problem situations, "frozen perceptions" are part of the problem. Solution: find new ways to look at things.

I'll leave you with my three favorite sayings

"The problems of man are man made. They can be solved by man" JFK
"You can't solve a problem with the same mind that created it" Einstein
"Life is mind-made" Dr. Chris Eisenbarth

Good luck.

Jessica's picture
Jessica
Building Confidence in Students, One Child at a Time

Hi,
I feel that a child's behavior is very important. It is the responsibility of the parents to inculcate in their children good family values and moral ethics. If the upbringing of the child is done in the correct manner , am sure children would know how to behave with their seniors as well as with their peer groups.

Martha Smith's picture

After moving to San Diego and not finding full time employment, I am a sub. What I have found if the material the teacher has left me is boring so are the students. When middle school students are bored, troubles arise. I like a class where all learners are engaged in learning. I modify the material to compare history to what is happening today. At least a few more heads popped up and look interested. Short videos can start great conversations. I know how to press play... Just set me up and I can really teach some cool stuff. I am bored when the students are just to copy answers out of the book...

Mike Procyk's picture
Mike Procyk
Band teacher from Bowling Green, Ohio

[quote]Alex Molnar also wrote a book: "Changing Problem Behavior in Schools". It's all about the role of OUR thoughts, attitudes and beliefs play in chronic problem situations, and how to change that.[/quote]

I think this is an aspect of dealing with students that is too often overlooked. Prescriptions for how to deal with situations are only as effective as our ability to really connect with the good intentions.

Mike Procyk's picture
Mike Procyk
Band teacher from Bowling Green, Ohio

[quote]Alex Molnar also wrote a book: "Changing Problem Behavior in Schools". It's all about the role of OUR thoughts, attitudes and beliefs play in chronic problem situations, and how to change that.[/quote]

I think this is an aspect of dealing with students that is too often overlooked. Prescriptions for how to deal with situations are only as effective as our ability to really connect with the good intentions.

Mike Procyk's picture
Mike Procyk
Band teacher from Bowling Green, Ohio

[quote]
To pull off any approach though, you have to be able to get yourself into the best cognitive and emotional place. Otherwise, you'll make a lot of mistakes with kids. That's part of why I developed "A Tool Kit for Teachers" (www.itsjustanevent.com)[/quote]

This seems like the best advice for the situation. This child doesn't seem to be comfortable in the classroom setting. He needs to feel like this is where he wants to be and that he wants to gain your approval. Not sure of the exact strategy for how to get there, but that seems like a goal worth pursuing.

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