The education news last week in New Jersey focused on a teacher who got caught bullying a 15-year-old child. The child captured the teacher’s humiliating words on his cell phone camera and the teacher was suspended. Now, what was so interesting to me in reading about this on the Internet was the range of comments that people left. Many of those who responded were teachers themselves and about half criticized the teacher for unacceptable behavior, and the other half empathized with the teacher’s inability to maintain self-control when faced with a child whose behavior was outrageous. Many of the teachers complained about parents and the horrible behaviors that are frequent in schools today.
Few people, however, mentioned needing better skills to work with children whose behavior is unacceptable. It seems they wanted the administration to remove the children and make the problem disappear. There was no discussion of professional development, strategies to help teachers, or the desire for more knowledge about working with challenging behaviors.
My guess is that many teachers don’t realize there is hope. Challenging behaviors are learned behavior, and therefore they can be changed. These behaviors are highly affected by the environment, so if we change the environment, we can have a big impact on behavior. This requires, however, that we make a HUGE mental change from thinking about punishing behaviors to thinking about teaching new behaviors. If a teacher can do this, however, she will be happier, more effective, and the child will be saved from a downward spiral of educational failure.
I’ve created a free guide to helping children with challenging behavior because I believe it is so important to change the way many teachers are reacting. Both teachers and students are suffering and I know there are ways to improve the situation. Please click on the link below, or visit the page on The Positive Classroom for free classroom management guides. Share this booklet with your colleagues. Let me know what you think of the information, and if you try out any of the ideas, please let us know what results you get. I will be posting more free booklets in the near future, so check back again soon!