Classroom Behavior

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Would you be surprised to learn that in today’s classroom children sometimes aren’t learning due to behavioral issues? Teachers are attempting to teach classes in which students can be disruptive, disrespectful and defiant. Classrooms are often overcrowded which adds to the frustration of the situation. Teachers are often tempted to take the easy way out, using antiquated strategies that will usually not help the child to learn. In fact, some types of punishments can actually cause the child to become even more rebellious. The child can experience a sense of worthlessness after being punished again and again.
Children do not act out because they are “bad.” They act out in the hopes of receiving some kind of response or reward. In the past, children who acted out were classified as “bad kids” therefore were isolated or punished and often wound up slipping through the cracks of the educational system. Recently, some teachers have been attempting to help the behaviorally challenged child. Instead of isolating, punishing, labeling or ignoring a child, with work we can help them to become a part of the class. Teachers also have the power to help the child who would have once been considered a “lost cause” to learn. Many researchers have worked on learning about the causes of behavioral problems and possibly more importantly, have suggested some solutions to the problem. Behavioral theorists include B.F. Skinner, E. Thorndike, and William Glasser to name a few. Although their research and theories go by different names they all have one thing in common. All of the above theorists are, in effect, saying that we are not going to change the child’s behavior by changing the child. We must change our reaction to the behavior in order to change it.
The idea that bad behavior should not be rewarded is a basic concept. When one rewards any kind of behavior, bad or good, that behavior will continue. Children are especially quick to catch on to what kind of behavior will get them the result that they desire. B.F. Skinner, a behavioral theorist, says that “when a particular Stimulus–Response (S-R) pattern is reinforced (rewarded), the individual is conditioned to respond.” Skinner’s theory is known as Operant Conditioning (Skinner, 1950-71). Although it seems basic or common sense it is easy to forget that each behavior displayed addresses a need. That need may be attention...

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...t every student will understand or grasp every lesson. The important thing to remember is that the student who tries needs to be rewarded too.
When using the reward system, teachers need to make the result that we desire the same result that the child desires. This is very tricky. William Glasser’s “having fun” need comes into play here. The lessons have to be fun for the student that participates. On the other hand the student who is disruptive or refuses to participate should be uncomfortable due to his or her “attitude.” The norm should be participation and appropriate behavior. If teachers continue to try different strategies in the classroom and pay attention to the theorist’s research and suggestions, they will find that there are less children falling through the cracks of the educational system.
Boeree, George C. (1998). Abraham Maslow. Personality Theories
Boatman, Andrew Mclain. (1998). Educational Theory Handbook.
Skinner B.F. Operant Conditioning. 1950-1971.
Thorndike, E. Connectionism. (1913-1928).
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