Students misbehave, some much worse than the others. This is a fact that parents and teachers are more than aware of. Inappropriate behaviours range from low-level disruptions such as whispering, up to shouting, swearing or physical aggression. These behaviours have destructive consequences to their academic and social well-being. Not only are they destructive to themselves when they misbehave, but they can also disrupt the harmony of the classroom and the school.
Behaviour management in schools usually involve verbal reprimands, time-out, parent-teacher meetings, and exclusions. Having worked with students of different age-groups, in different environments for almost a decade, I still find it a challenge to find a way to better improve students’ behaviour. Most of what is done in schools (mentioned above) only manages to stop the behaviour from occurring in the short term.
Recently however, it occurred to me that every behaviour is a form of communication. Each utterance and action is a result of something that is happening or have happened to a child. Once this occurred to me, I aimed to approach children differently. Instead of getting angry straight away, I ask the children why they are behaving the way they are. I always tell them:
I want to speak to you because I am worried about you. You’re not behaving the way you always have. What’s the matter?
Once children hear that I am concern about them, and that I want to hear their side, they became more likely to explain the reason of their behaviours. In addition, because I have explicitly told them that I know they can behave well, they are more likely to change their behaviours. Such a change, as one can imagine, takes time. But I have found that this positive approach brings about desirable results better than other approaches.