What lies beneath behaviour?
Creating the best start
The control of student behaviour has always been a major component of an educator's skill repertoire. Today, as teachers face increasing numbers of students with challenging emotions and behaviour, there is a clear expectation on them to expand the quality of how they go about managing students (Applebaum, 2008).
Every so often a teacher will find themself having to deal with the behaviours of one or two students who battle for attention and power. When challenged they'll become defiant or loud, and occasionally vindictive and intimidating. Oppositional styled behaviours, from even just one student, can be a perilous time. Such encounters place a teacher's reactions under the closest scrutiny of the class, and depending on their responses, either an atmosphere of care, strength and fairness is stirred, or the class can suddenly set itself against a teacher it perceives as mean and unjust. The tone of the classroom can quickly unravel and the confidence of students to learn and participate in a warm interactive class environment falls apart.
Taking on the challenge to find success with oppositional styled students is
the focus of this chapter and it starts by acknowledging several key points
A personal reflection: student misbehaviour and you
Educators who do best learn to live by the Four Goals of Misbehaviour; often referred to as the most effective tool in helping to understand the behaviour of children (Dreikurs & Soltz, 1964). The Four Goals of Misbehaviour were coined by psychiatrist, Rudolf Dreikurs who was inspired by Alfred Adler's work (Adler, 1929). Dreikurs suggests that children usually misbehave for one of four reasons. Typically there is a struggle for attention, power, revenge or a display of inadequacy.
Adler and Dreikurs assumed that adults earn the respect of children by showing them respect. They believe that many of the problems around misbehaviour were the result of poor relationship where encouragement had diminished or disappeared. Dreikurs also acknowledged that as the balance of power in society and schools moved away from the traditional, power over children to a freer, more democratic structure the relationship between adults and children was tested. In essence, they promoted a common sense, practical approach to help educators respond to student misbehaviour more effectively, and there are two central points embodied in their work. The first is that educators who do best when confronted with student misbehaviour are those who choose to shift their focus from feeling as though they must defeat the child's misbehaviour in order to win. A better way to proceed is to respond in ways that are likely to convince the child to abandon their misbehaviour. The second point is that none of us can really squash or defeat a child's misbehaviour. Constantly directing our energy and power at the child's misbehaviour will not turn the child or adolescent into a likeable, responsible or happy person.
Effectively applying the Four Goals of Misbehaviour takes thought and practice. They challenge educators to reconstruct their thinking, because for a long time we have been caught up within a format of behaviour management that duped us into thinking how we responded to student misbehaviour was less important than the rules embedded in the school's behaviour management policy. Attempting to live by the Four Goals of Misbehaviour is well worth the effort because they offer truly therapeutic and educative understandings. As soon as we enter the arena of examining feelings, our own and our students, we begin to manage differently and more successfully. More than this, we activate a process of emotional growth within ourselves...
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