Making small shifts in your own behaviour can lead to more positive interactions in your classroom.
Yeasmin Mortuza and I are lead educators on the online course Managing behaviour for learning. We recently recorded the first of our video diaries for this course and one of the stand out comments from our discussions was:
“We cannot make a child act better by making them feel worse.”
It is clear that a person who has positive emotions such as pride, a feeling of belonging, who feels relaxed and is in an environment where they feel valued is more likely to behave well than someone who feels ashamed, angry or as if they are not liked or valued.
And yet, the way that we treat those with challenging behaviour often encourages these kinds of negative emotions that will make it harder for them to behave well. This becomes a vicious circle of punishment and poor behaviour.
Fortunately, the course gives us lots of ideas for dealing proactively with challenging behaviour while promoting the kinds of positive and trusting relationships that make it easier for everyone (students and teachers) to be the best versions of themselves. This can be as simple, as another participant points out, as making the effort to smile more. This can make a significant difference to the classroom environment and how relaxed and valued everyone feels, although as our participant reminds us:
“Believe me, wearing a smile every day and being in a good mood is really hard to do.”
Nevertheless, it really is worth making the effort to do this as, in the long term, this is more likely to promote the behaviours in our students which will make it easier for us to smile; this becomes a positive cycle of positive emotions, trusting relationships and good behaviour.
Of course, we all know that it isn’t quite as easy as that and the course does describe some more structured ways to promote positive relationships and behaviour in school. If you would like to find out more, there is still plenty of time to sign up and we would love to see you there.