Articles for Teachers
We have been getting a lot of the same questions over and over again at the Live Expert Help area of our web site. Many of you have been asking how to get young people to behave in class and group settings. Many of the counselors have passed along requests from teachers who want to know how to stop the non-stop discipline problems that disrupt learning.
Kids are not born instinctively knowing how to talk one at a time, keep their hands to themselves and stay quiet when others are talking. In fact, most-- if not all-- of the behaviors that adults want to see in their class or group setting, must be taught. Years ago, a teacher, for example, could count on most families to train their offspring to talk one at a time, keep their hands to themselves, etc. Now, many youth professionals may feel that many young people appear to have little preparation from home on how to behave appropriately in the classroom or group room.
Although perhaps it should be the parents' job to train their offspring to have the basic behavior skills, it is clear that many families cannot or will not provide this essential training. So, to get the discipline and order you want at your site,
you may have to provide that training. You must be thorough, covering everything from attendance and punctuality to when to talk and what to wear to school. Plus, remember that stating expectations is often not enough! You must drill skills into habits, and don't forget to defuse the apathy and adjust negative attitudes so students are sufficiently motivated and disposed to perform the behaviors that you want. You must cover all three areas: skills, motivation and attitude.
Here are just a handful of strategies from our hundreds of interventions that train youngsters to "behave," and build motivation and a positive attitude:
* Give Me Five!
This intervention is for elementary school age children. Teach the students to say: "Give Me Five! Two eyes watching, two ears listening, one mouth shut. Give Me Five!" while doing a "high five"-style slap. If all schools had a formal plan to train young elementary students to focus and listen, perhaps there would be fewer teachers struggling to teach. This cute intervention is a great example of how these skills could be readily taught.
* BONUS Intervention:
To teach your group or class to maintain their focus on the teacher, use a magnet and metal to illustrate how their eyes and ears must be "stuck" on the teacher.
* BONUS Intervention:
To further illustrate the importance of maintaining focus, have the students list all the jobs and businesses that they may wish to do. Ask your group to determine the potential consequences of inattention in those occupations. Encourage the group to craft amusing and dramatic answers that will hit home the importance of staying focused.
* Who is Supposed to Be in Charge?
Some young people act like they are in charge. To provide clarification, ask the
group to name all the qualifications that teachers, counselors, coaches-- or whatever your job is-- are supposed to have. List their responses on the board, eliciting answers like "a college degree" and "a teaching license." After the list is complete, have the group determine who has those qualifications, the adult or a student.
* How Do You Get Help Around Here?
Some youth may feel that it is okay to act up when they are frustrated and need help. Turn that around with this fun intervention. Ask the students to devise "The Top 10 Ways the Teacher Can't Tell You Need Help." Elicit answers like: you glare, you mutter, etc. You can substitute your job title for the word "teacher" if you wish.
* Taking Out Talk-Outs
Your youngsters may feel that they can talk out at will, and say whatever they want whenever they want, even though you have set a different standard for your office or classroom. To convincingly teach children and youth that talk-outs are a problem, reverse roles. Have a young person assume the job of counselor, for example, and then have that youth attempt to complete a
common task (such as teaching the group to remember a 5 digit number) amidst many talk-outs. Offer a big prize for successfully completing the task, but coach the other youngsters to talk out at will. The role-play counselor will be unable to successfully complete the task. Ask the class to suggest a rule regarding the amount of talk-outs.
* BONUS Intervention:
Remember: Kids do not magically know how many times to talk out in your class or group. Plus, many of them lack the skills to discern it on their own. So, be sure to have every group or class set a standard. It is unfair to expect youngsters to follow a standard that is vague and unquantified.
Want More Great Interventions?
We hope you liked your quick peek at just a few of our many interventions that are designed to get youth to "behave." Remember, the small sampling of interventions included here is not sufficient to stop all the behavior problems that you are seeing every day. To mount a comprehensive effort, be sure to teach ALL the skills that your students need to be appropriately behaved, and you must also thoroughly build motivation and positive attitudes. Both our live and videotaped Breakthrough Strategies Workshop.
provide comprehensive coverage. Our Breakthrough Strategies books deliver powerful interventions for nearly every behavior problem that exists.