Replacing the ‘dis’.


I often listen to podcasts while I run. Dr Gaston Weizs podcast, ‘School Psychology, has some great insights in basic behavioural psychology that relates to the classroom.

One podcast described the reasons for challenging behaviours. Dr Weizs describes the behaviour as being a learned action that someone uses because it gets them a desired result. He says that we do what we do because of the three ‘E’s’ – it’s easy, efficient and effective. This is to say that the student ‘acts out’, for example, because it’s their first reaction, it gets the desired attention and then the desired result.

The majority of behaviour management in schools is precisely that; management. How often do we simply deal with a negative behaviour after it happens, ‘mop’ up the damage and dish out the punishment. And then we foolishly believe that the student will learn something from the episode.

Dr Weizs suggests that we should be teaching the student to ‘replace’ the negative behaviour with something that is equally the three ‘Es’ but much more positive and socially acceptable.

I can already think of how this approach might be successful with one student who continually challenges authority if he believes he is being dealt an injustice – no matter how small or insignificant and in a disproportionate manner. We already have an arrangement where he reflects on an incident afterwards and I think our next step is to construct a strategy that will replace his outbursts with something equally easy, efficient and effective.

The more challenging behaviour to replace is a student’s disengagement from the learning process, the topic of my teacher inquiry this year. If I was to apply the three ‘Es’ to this behaviour (as a way of understanding the action more deeply than, ‘They are just lazy!’) could I, perhaps, be on a journey to helping the student replace this disengagment with engagement?

Maybe a way forward will involve some conversation time with the students involved. My instinct tells me that the disengagement is a learned behaviour that has developed from a lack of confidence, a fear of failure and low self efficacy.

I’m sure there will be some interesting conversations around the corner.

Photo left used under Creative Commons License from ‘Foreversouls’, sourced from flickr.com. Image above from http://drweisz.blogspot.com/

2 thoughts on “Replacing the ‘dis’.

  1. Mark,
    I have been so busy that I haven't had time to read and blog. Disengagement. I just today watched a conversation with Tony Ryan (I assume you will know who he is)around engagement. It was thought provoking.

    I read with interest the comment around “being lazy”. Having worked in low decile schools my entire teaching career “being lazy” is certainly a comment that I cringe around when I hear people use it. Your instinct is correct – children aren't lazy. Teachers need to look closely at what they are doing to change behaviour. Children who are seen as lazy are generally children who are having difficulty engaging with what they are supposed to be doing. We first need to look at what we as teachers are doing if this is the case. I have a good colleague who once said to me “some teachers get up and go to work, others get up and action work” I like this. Throughout my career too many times have i seen teachers who think that their job is to be there – rather than the good teachers that I see who ask themselves “How am I going to make a difference today? What am I going to do?” I don't know whether children lack the confidence – I think what you will find is children lack the right learning enviornment. Do they fully understand what school is actually about? Do they too have power in the classroom? Is the classroom a power sharing classroom? Interesting reading can be done around Warrick Elley's work and his project, referring to engagement.
    Engagement is one of my passions – one of my last blogs was around passion.

    Lazy children are not. Lazy – some teachers are. How many “fillers” do some people do? Title pages??? How much reflection goes on? Another colleage once asked me about worksheets. Her comment “if they are doing a worksheet they already can do what is the purpose? If they stuggle with the worksheet – what is the purpose?

    I always think in my classroom that at the end of the day I am responsible for my children while they are with me. At every minute of the day I ask myself “is this worth these children coming to school today?” As I tell them …I'm not here to teach you things you already know. If we did that you my as well stay home. When we put the video on to “entertain them” what is it that our children have learnt for the day??? What can you as a teacher say that you have done to change the way they think for that day?

    A big challenge for many… but a worthwhile thought.

    Like

  2. Mark,
    I have been so busy that I haven't had time to read and blog. Disengagement. I just today watched a conversation with Tony Ryan (I assume you will know who he is)around engagement. It was thought provoking.

    I read with interest the comment around “being lazy”. Having worked in low decile schools my entire teaching career “being lazy” is certainly a comment that I cringe around when I hear people use it. Your instinct is correct – children aren't lazy. Teachers need to look closely at what they are doing to change behaviour. Children who are seen as lazy are generally children who are having difficulty engaging with what they are supposed to be doing. We first need to look at what we as teachers are doing if this is the case. I have a good colleague who once said to me “some teachers get up and go to work, others get up and action work” I like this. Throughout my career too many times have i seen teachers who think that their job is to be there – rather than the good teachers that I see who ask themselves “How am I going to make a difference today? What am I going to do?” I don't know whether children lack the confidence – I think what you will find is children lack the right learning enviornment. Do they fully understand what school is actually about? Do they too have power in the classroom? Is the classroom a power sharing classroom? Interesting reading can be done around Warrick Elley's work and his project, referring to engagement.
    Engagement is one of my passions – one of my last blogs was around passion.

    Lazy children are not. Lazy – some teachers are. How many “fillers” do some people do? Title pages??? How much reflection goes on? Another colleage once asked me about worksheets. Her comment “if they are doing a worksheet they already can do what is the purpose? If they stuggle with the worksheet – what is the purpose?

    I always think in my classroom that at the end of the day I am responsible for my children while they are with me. At every minute of the day I ask myself “is this worth these children coming to school today?” As I tell them …I'm not here to teach you things you already know. If we did that you my as well stay home. When we put the video on to “entertain them” what is it that our children have learnt for the day??? What can you as a teacher say that you have done to change the way they think for that day?

    A big challenge for many… but a worthwhile thought.

    Like

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