Let’s have a few more relationship-building, behaviour management strategies before we move on to Stepping Stone 6…
7. Empower them
…give them problem-solving skills:
We can show caring for a student by empowering them with skills to overcome their difficulties. I often use the example of a student who seldom, if ever, hands in homework. Does ranting at them make them correct their behaviour and do the required work? Probably not. Could it be that the lack of effort is intensified by a lack of skills rather than pure belligerence? Spending some time teaching this student some time management skills will show a deeper level of caring than a detention ever could and may even help them get their homwwork in on time.
…Get them involved in school matters which are related to their problems:
We touched on this in ‘asking them for advice’ but our most challenging individuals will usually feel disconnected from systems such as student councils which have been set up to give students a voice in school. These students, those who frequently break rules and seem unable to fit in, are the ones whose opinions we should be seeking to devlop effective ways of reaching them. Training them as mediators and ‘buddies’ to other students, for example, can help them see their own problems in a different light and can lead to startling behaviour change as well as a deep connection to the member of staff who reaches out to help them.
…Have a suggestion box in class
…Hold occasional class meetings
…Teach them appropriate ways to express their concerns or speak out for things they feel unhappy about
…Organise group projects:
Have students work on a service project of some kind. Bonds can be built very quickly when everyone is working together on a worthwhile goal.
…have MASSIVE expectations:
In the same way that Pygmailion’s high expectations became a self-fulfilling prophecy and turned a lifeless statue into a beautiful living being, the thoughts and beliefs we hold about our students can have dramatic effects on them. They need to be constantly reminded that they ARE capable, they ARE good role models for younger students, they ARE likeable, they ARE wonderful, they ARE helpful and they ARE worthy of success. Our most challenging children need to know that someone in authority believes in them, understands them, cares about them and, above all, likes them.
…be resp0nsive to your students:
Be available – let them know when you’ll be in your room to talk and set up dedicated 1:1 sessions for all your students (we’ll deal with the issue of time constraints later but bare in mind that many duties – particularly admin tasks- could be delegated to students thereby killing two birds with one stone – they get a responsibility, you get extra time).
Be easy to contact – communicate through email and social media websites or run your own blog where students can leave you messages (use the systems your students are most comfortable using).
Tomorrow we’ll continue this series of behaviour management strategies & move on to part 6
Lots more strategies to come, stay tuned and please leave your comments and ideas below…