Responding to Misbehaviors

One of the first concerns teachers have before they enter the classroom is how they are going to prevent discipline problems.  It is impossible to prevent all problems in the classroom, but learning how to respond to them quickly is the best strategy that can be used to prevent them from occuring again.  "Everyone makes mistakes and everyone misbehaves on occasion, even teachers"(Savage, 1999, page 118).  The video below shows a mistake that a teacher made in trying to control a misbehavior in the classroom.  This video will show how this teacher incorrectly tried to respond to a problem and resulted in taking action into their own hands.

This video is clearly not how we want to react to a misbehavior.  Our responses to problems are vital to help solve the misbehavior and the manner at which we do that will allow the student to grow towards self control.   The responses we take will determine if the student can achieve that or not.  Clearly, in the video, the student did not achieve or demostrate self control because of the way the teacher responded.

Self Control

It is important that a teacher understands what it means for a student to have self-control and how that helps them grow into mature adults."Self-control is learned as we grow and experience the consequences of our actions.  It is the role of the teacher to help students understand and reflect on their actions and the consequences of those actions" (Page 119). When it comes to a response to a misbehavior it is important for a teacher to remember to ask themself, "Will my response help move the student in the direction of increased self-control?"  Staying consistent with this question and the responses given is a great way for the teacher to evaluate themself on their progress.  This process takes time to be effective.  The video below comes from a elementary school perspective, however, it can be applied to the middle and secondary grade levels.  Common misbehaviors still require for the teacher to find a effective way to respond. This video gives information on how to do that.

Principles for Choosing a Response

The purpose of learning how to respond to misbehaviors allow for the promotion of a healthy classroom environment to be established and for the students to grow towards increased self-control.  Here are some basic principles that Savage feels that every teacher should take into consideration before responding to a misbehavior.

1. The dignity of students should be preserved when responding to their behavior. 
If a student believes that their dignity is challenged they are likely to become defensive and argue back with the teacher.  The student feels as though the teacher does not respect them.  It is important that the student trusts their teacher and know that the teacher has their best interests at heart.

2. Private correction is preferable to public correction.
Teachers who decided to respond in front of the class or a group of peers is most likely to cause the student public humiliation. It is important to remove the audience so that a minor incident does not turn into a major confrontation.

3. Respond to incidents of misbehavior consistently and fairly.
It is important that when a teacher responds to a student that the same response will be for the rest of the class. The teacher should have prepared response for common misbehaviors so that the student are clear as to what their consequence will be.

4. Identify the causes of misbehavior.
Often times when a teacher finds the cause to the misbehavior is able to solve it quickly.  Most misbehaviors occur when the student needs help or is tring to get a need met.  This could be fear or anxiety or the lack of attention. Failure to identify the cause will cause the misbehavior to reoccur.

Choosing the Best Response

Here are some questions that need to be asked before an approach is chosen for a response.  These questions will help the response chosen to be most effective.

1.What are your values and beliefs about the nature of learners and your role as a teacher?

2. What is the maturity level of the students I am teaching?

3. What are the cultural backgrounds and the values of the learners I am teaching?

4. What is the previous school history of the learners in the classroom?

5. What type of support can you expect from the parents?

6.How much time and effort will the response require?

7. What resources will the response require?

8. What support can I expect from the school administration?

Keeping these few questions in mind will help teachers search for responses to inappropriate behaviors that have a higher probability of success.  It is important the teacher considers the reason for the response and that the end result leads to increased self-control for the students.

Spiritual Application

"The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel: for attaining wisdom and discipline; for understanding words of insight; for acquiring a disciplined and prudent life, doing what is right and just and fair; for giving prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the young-- let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance-- for understanding proverbs and parables, the sayings and riddles of the wise" (Proverbs 1:1-6).

 Doing what is right for the student will help the student learn how to respond to situations in their life.  This verse is what a teacher needs to live by when responding to misbehaviors of students.  Students who listen and learn from their mistakes will be able to reach a sense of self-control.