May 24, 2024

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Pulling Behavior Problems Up by the Roots

Rumor has it that teachers don’t live long after retirement. Or they don’t stay in teaching long enough to get to that concern.

Rumor further has it that the reason for this is not because lesson plans wear you out, or that the pay isn’t enough, or the quality of the coffee in the cafeteria (although I think further research may be required for the last reason).

Nope. Teachers don’t like discipline problems.

Day after day, month after month, year after year.

And to read the advice out there, you’d think that disciplining is supposed to be part of the daily job, something you have to do over and over, like cooking eggs at a restaurant.

So most of the tips are things like ‘Stand in proximity to the student’, or ‘point out to the student the desired behavior’ or ‘be positive’. That last one is my favorite–‘Johnny, you are such a good student, and you threw that apple so well at Jane’s head! Now back to the lesson.’

The problem with these solutions (there are a few better than the ones above, but not that much better) is that, like pulling weeds from the top, they don’t prevent the problem from growing back. So if you have a problem student, are you supposed to stand in proximity to them 180 times during the year? And if there is another problem student on the other side of the room, do you astral project yourself over to that side also?

What if you don’t believe in astral projection?

To enjoy a long teaching career without stress, you must find solutions to these problems that keep them from coming back day after day. So a technique here and there don’t cut it–you’ve got to develop a system of consequences that are strong enough to make Johnny not want to repeat his mistake.

Jane you don’t have to worry about, because on the 88th day when you forgot your physical proximity trick, she got beaned by the apple and Johnny got praised for his dexterity and kinesthetic prowess.

Find ways to leverage your consequences strongly enough that students don’t care to face them again, your classroom environment becomes fun and sane, and you get to enjoy your students and your retirement.