In light of all that has occurred this past week, it’s more important than ever to watch for students who appear not to care. Behavior is something we all struggle with year round, but often, bad behavior is a sign of other things. It is also true that this time of year, the last week before many schools’ holiday breaks, behavior problems start to rise. These incidences are yet another sign that students need us.
Today we bring you a guest post with ideas on how to work with students who seem to not care. However, remember, no matter what the season, simply showing love and care for your students is always the best way to go. And if things are too difficult to handle on your own, within your own classroom, seek out help from peers, administration and other support personnel.
Let’s face it – we love what we do and caring for children is at the core of that. Take care of yourself and your students this week and always. ~EMP
Teaching is one of the most rewarding jobs that a person can have. However, it can also be one of the most difficult, especially when you have to work with students who simply don’t care. Whether you’ve been teaching for twenty years or two years, you’ve probably encountered this kid—the kid who blatantly sleeps during class, who causes a disruption, or who just plain doesn’t pay attention, simply because he or she does not care about school. Correcting these students can be a huge challenge. If you take steps to discipline them, then you have to disrupt the learning process for the rest of the class. If you send them out of class, the student still misses out on learning and also gets what he or she wants—in other words, you unintentionally reward the bad behavior. Unfortunately, these students are probably always going to be around, and unless you want to give up on teaching, it’s up to you to find a way to deal with them.
Reward Good Behavior
Few students are going to be bad all the time. Even your most disruptive and disrespectful students will likely do something good once in a while. Maybe you’ll get onto a topic that briefly holds their interest, and the student will start listening, or maybe the student will just do something helpful like lend another student a sheet of paper. The trick is to “catch” the student doing something good and to reward him or her for it. This could be in the form of verbal praise, a few extra points on a quiz or homework assignment, or with younger children, a sticker or a piece of candy. When you reward students for good behavior and ignore mild misbehavior, you positively reinforce the good behavior. While this doesn’t work for all students, some will grow to like and appreciate the positive attention, and will slowly start to behave more and more often.
Consistency is an extremely important trait for all teachers to have. You need clearly defined rules for your classroom and clearly defined punishments for not following those rules. However, you have to be careful not to deviate from those rules ever. If, for example, you catch one of your normally well-behaved students talking in class, you might be tempted to let the behavior slide, rather than enacting the punishment you have set forth. You can’t do that, however, as it sets a poor example and shows your students you don’t really mean what you say. For best results, post the rules of your classroom somewhere visible to serve as a reminder to the students. Then, make sure there is an appropriate consequence for not following each rule. It’s okay to use a warning-first, punishment-second approach as long as you are consistent. Sometimes, simply being more consistent with your rules will be enough to show a disruptive child that you mean business and to get him or her to start behaving properly.
Go the Extra Mile
Sometimes, unruly students are simply uninterested students. Try to make your lessons more fun and to give your students activities that they can do, rather than just having them sit and listen for an entire class period. If you change up your lesson plans in this way, and your badly behaved students are still not acting correctly, you might want to spend some one-on-one time working closely with the disruptive student. If all else fails, it may be time to have a chat with the principal or another authority figure for help.