Three Causes of Misbehavior

All students misbehave in school. You just have to show them that you’re in charge. Students in your class are out of control because your lessons are not interesting. Maybe, you need to offer them a reward so they will sit still for part of your lesson.

This is usually bad advice offered to teachers to help them deal with their students’ inappropriate behavior.

This type of advice assumes that a teacher can control a child’s behavior, which is not always possible. It also presumes that the educator is boring and should bribe their students to encourage proper behavior.

None of these things work; children who act up do so for specific reasons. It’s up to the teacher to identify the root cause of the misbehavior and to find ways of deescalating that behavior in the classroom.

Typically the three main causes of misbehavior occurs because children:

1- Crave attention: These kids are the ones who constantly speak out without permission in school. They are known for interrupting their teachers’ lesson inorder to force their instructors and classmates to pay attention to their antics.

The best way of dealing with attention-seeking students is to acknowledge their presents in the classroom right away, and given them a brief opportunity to share something about last night’s homework or their thoughts on a topic.

When the child misbehaves, resist the temptation to lecture, nag, scold, or yell. Negative reactions will only fuel the student’s misbehavior. Instead, let the child know that the attention s/he is seeking is not positive and will result in a timeout or a disciplinary consequence.

2- Want to avoid classwork: This group of children generally rarely complete their school work; instead, they look for distractions to avoid work altogether. Their lack of productivity and their need for diversion can disrupt their classmates’ learning time.

These types of students benefit from consistent monitoring. Once the instructor completes his or her whole class lecture, the teacher has to immediately check-in with these children throughout the class period to ensure they are on task. Eventually, the student will get the idea he or she is being monitored and will find it difficult to avoid his or her class assignments

3- Seek Power: Children who seek power are individuals that need to argue and are not afraid of confrontations with adults. When students become upset, they may not be able to control their own anger and can get extremely violent.

When dealing with a student in this situation, it’s best to respond to the student in a ‘neutral’, calm voice and keep responses brief. Short responses give these type of kid less control over the interaction and can also prevent educators from inadvertently ‘rewarding’ misbehaving students with lots of negative adult attention.

All educators do their best to de-escalate all misbehaviors in their classroom. No matter how carefully teachers try to create a positive learning environment, students will still misbehave. They will forget classroom rules or expectations. Sometimes, they just want to test the limits of a teacher’s patience. Misbehavior will happen and the only thing an educator can do is to be ready for it.


Who’s Accountable for a Student’s Behavior?

Student behavior is always an explosive conversation with teachers and parents. Each of these respective groups has fixed opinions on this issue. Educators believe that parents need to do a better job teaching students how to respect adults in a school setting. While parents believe that teachers need to convey a more positive demeanor towards all school-age youth.

Each tends to blame the other for their students’ behavior problems. This cycle of blame has been going on for years. However, we are no closer in solving behavior problems in most schools.

Researchers believe that student misbehavior is a learned trait. Children see how adults respond to a variety of situations —so they in turn can react in a similar way when they encounter an identical scenario.

If a parent has an adversary relationship with his or her child’s school community, it is most likely his or her child will also have a similar relationship. It’s plausible that these kids have learned from their family members that it is acceptable to challenge school staff. To them ‘talking back’ and being ‘confrontational’ is how an individual communicates with educators.

And, vice versa, if a teacher communicates with his or her students by yelling or using mean-spirited language, these kids learn that it’s okay to interact with school adults in this matter. This again reinforces that this conduct is a normal. As these children get older, they start to emulate this negative behavior. And, the cycle continues.

So, who is accountable for a student’s behavior?

It’s all of us that parent, teach, and work with children. They are watching our interactions. Are we modeling the behavior that they should be learning?

What is Homework?

Homework is not an assessment; it is practice. It provides students with an opportunity to replicate or apply skills or concepts in order to master grade-level content.

Think of homework as a type of cognitive training to refine a student’s intellectual knowledge and application of grade- level content. The more opportunities students get to practice the better they will achieve grade- level proficiency.

Since homework is practice, it is not meant to be graded. Remember, students are completing homework to get better at mathematics, English, and science. When educators grade homework, they are determining a final -grade on preliminary knowledge. The homework being assessed is not a student best effort, but his or her initial attempt at learning a concept or a skill. It is an inaccurate measure of what a student knows, understands, and is able to apply.

Instead, teachers ought to use summative tests or final projects to determine a final grade. These types of assessments determine what students have learned at the end of a unit of instruction or at the end of a grade level (e.g., through grade-level, standardized assessments). Summative assessment helps determine to what extent the instructional and learning goals have been met.

Homework is not able to provide this level of information. It’s only purpose is to help students review and repeat applications to improve or maintain their proficiency.

Sit-Back and Wait

When I started as a training consultant, I was hesitant about working with non-educational organizations. I was worried that business minded clients would not take me seriously because my primary experience was in education.  I quickly discover that my experience in the educational sector would not be the problem. The biggest obstacle I faced in corporate training was engaging learners in independent thinking and action.

For years, these professionals were expose to training consultants that spoon-fed them information. It  was difficult for them to accept another training paradigm. Many of them felt that I was wasting their workday by asking them to think beyond task-level work. By holding on to a “sit back and wait” approach, these workers were obstructing opportunities for innovation and growth.

This particular organization wanted to change this way of thinking. This is why they hired me. The CEO  and their board wanted  their staff  to be proactive by creating and design new solutions  and opportunities to expand  company’s reach, rather than being reactive and complacent to  their work.

After six months of direct coaching support, only 45% of the staff modified their work habits. Unfortunately, the individuals that selected not to change were slowly replaced with new staff members, which would follow the new directive. It took the executive team and myself almost two years to stop the sit-back mindset in this organization.

Organizations that typically have this problem tend to micromanage their workers. Managers or executive officers do not fully trust their staff to take ownership of the company’s outputs. This of course creates a passive work environment and discourages staff members from engaging in any independent thinking or action. Once this type of culture is established it is difficult to change this behavior.

But, it can be done if your organizations makes it a priority.