Managing Classroom Behaviour - Consistency is Essential But Potentiall
Apr 6, 2010 Classroom Management 2461 Views
A recent conversation with a teacher in a mainstream school that has recently referred yet another 'uncontrollable, we've done everything and nothing works' child to join the behaviour unit made me think about the dangers of consistency!
Hard to believe? How can consistency be dangerous?
The aforementioned child has been uncontrollable for some time. As usual there have been numerous agencies, professionals and individuals in on the act offering advice and suggestions. Endless hours have been spent discussing, writing stories (sorry, reports!) and hand wringing!
Not a lot changes as a result -- well, apart from the child descending into greater depths of uncontrollable rage and frustration. They're desperate for adults to take control of their behaviour because they instinctively know that's how it should be. But, it's a false hope to think that children will give up the control that adults have unwittingly handed them on a plate without changes being made in the way the child's behaviour is managed. Adults have to take back control.
Everything had been thrown at this child (metaphorically speaking!), resulting in almost total one to one support in school but it made no difference. Think about it -- how can it make a difference when the people involved haven't the skill or experience to deal with such behaviour. If they haven't the skill to prevent the bad behaviour then they're hardly likely to be able to rectify the situation when it's been left to deteriorate, are they?
So, the child had been pandered to, excuses made for his behaviour and finally the situation pretty much accepted as normal - 'that's just how he is!' And that's certainly not going to do him any favours in the long run...
In this case, yet another adult from an outside agency was employed to work with this child. There's a danger that involvement from so many people just causes more confusion and frustration! From social workers, support workers, classroom assistants, therapists, psychologists, mental health professionals, family workers and Uncle Tom Cobbley and all! There are probably some missed from this list - it's endless!
There's no doubt this new person could be as able as the rest, but it was this input that was the basis of the conversation mentioned previously.
During this conversation concern was expressed that so many people were involved with this child. There can be too much of a good thing and definitely a lot too much of something that isn't likely to work very well! At this point the teacher uttered the comment that, if the situation wasn't so serious, would have had been comical!
She said, very seriously, 'I hope this new person is as consistent in his approach as we have been in school!'
Tread carefully here otherwise someone's sensibilities are about to be trampled on...
Yes, we know that consistency is essential when managing children's behaviour. We all know that, so what's the problem with what was said?
Well, the major stumbling block is when you're being totally consistent, but you're consistently using the wrong strategies -- in short, you're doing it all wrong! All your consistency is doing when your strategies are wrong is that you're reinforcing the behaviour you don't want! Not how you want things to be!
It was apparent that this school reckoned it was enough to be consistent but that's not true.
Yes, you've got to be consistent when dealing with kids' behaviour but you've got to be consistently doing things the right way. If you're doing it right then you'll see improvements in children's behaviour. Or, better still, you won't allow behaviour to deteriorate in the first place! Always remember that prevention is the aim and saves so much trouble in the long run.
If this child's behaviour had been consistently well managed the situation wouldn't have developed into the mess that had been created. Could this case have been handled better? Undoubtedly...
This child is now in a group of 10 children, all with extreme behaviour problems. Well they're extreme problems where they came from but soon change when they're managed properly... He's absolutely fine and that's without any one to one support! He's quite happily taken to the adults being in control. He's great, happy, working well and making very good progress.
If the school had been consistent in the right way, the terrible problems that developed wouldn't have happened. They'll now be taught the correct strategies to use so that when he returns to school they'll be able to manage him confidently and effectively.
Anyone can learn to discipline children and manage their behaviour -- it's not rocket science. You can quickly become confident -- the strategies soon become second nature and you'll be using them instinctively in no time. And you'll know how to be consistent and correct!