First Year Teacher Academy

Maintaining Positive Student Behavior

Four Reasons for Misbehavior

  • Attention-Seeking
  • Power-Seeking
  • Revenge-Seeking
  • Fear of Failure

Effective Response to Attention-Seeking Behavior

  • Pat the student on the shoulder
  • Make eye contact and smile at the student
  • Check in with the student about how he or she is progressing with an assignment
  • Call on the student in class (when you are pretty sure that he or she knows the answer!)
  • Pass the student a note with a cheerful comment, specific praise, or compliment
  • Give brief, specific praise about the student's work or behavior (e.g., "I really like to see how carefully you are drawing that map, Joanna!")
  • Give the student a few words of encouragement
  • Invite the student to summarize for the group the main points of a classroom discussion
  • Converse briefly with the student
  • Select the student to carry out a classroom task (e.g., passing out papers) that he or she likes
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Effective Response to Power-Seeking Behavior

  • Allow voice and choice (“Propose some alternatives to the assignment after class, Beatrice, and we can talk through them.”)
  • Delegate responsibility (“Iago, will you help operate the audiovisual equipment for the class today?”)
  • Acknowledge legitimate power (“You’re right, Cordelia. I can’t force you to do anything you don’t want to. But you will have to accept the consequences of your decision.”
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Effective Response to Revenge-Seeking Behavior

  • Build caring relationships (“Claudio, what’s really upsetting you?”)
  • Teach appropriate expression of feelings through the use of puppet shows or drawings, as well as I-statements, community meetings and problem-solving protocols (“In today’s journal assignment, we’re going to spend a few minutes writing about a time when we were really angry at someone.”)
  • Discuss misbehavior later (“Hamlet, we’ll talk about this after class so we don’t waste everyone’s learning time”).
  • Allow students to save face by ignoring a rebellious mutter like “I’m leaving when the bell rings” rather than replying, “Oh no, you’re not!” Take charge of our own negative emotions (“Class, I wanted to apologize for raising my voice yesterday. That is no way to resolve a problem.”)
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Effective Response to Fear of Failure Behavior

  • Encourage an “I can” ethic (“Gertrude, look at your portfolio and see the progress you’ve made in punctuation with your careful practice!”)
  • Foster friendships and build confidence (“Oberon, will you please quietly explain the Do Now procedure to Titania while the rest of us begin?”)
  • Lower the stress level (“We’re going to practice our presentations with a partner before doing it in front of the class.”)
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