Strategies for Communicating with Students
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1. Inappropriate Language at School.
In today’s world it seems that some children use inappropriate language with no care at all. You can hear them saying it under their breaths, so you the teacher cannot hear it. As a classroom teacher, their needs to be clear classroom rules and consequences related to foul language. When a student uses obscenities, there should be a discipline plan that is enforced in the classroom. Some guideline would be regarding foul language are the following.
1. Set the language expectations early in the school year.
2. Give a warring to students the first time you hear them saying inappropriate language.
3. Deliver a consequence immediately after they use the foul language and this is given to them after they have been warned.
Always follow up with the student after the consequence has been received and reinforce your expectations for the classroom setting. If the student continues to use the foul language, give them sterner consequences and inform the parents of the student’s choice of words. “A Gallup poll indicated that lack of discipline was the number one problem that Americans feel the local public school face. The rise of violence, the disrespect for authority, the media and violence are influences that affect behavior in schools. Researchers believe that more positive based management techniques will help students display more appropriate behaviors.” (Quinn, 2001, p.6).
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The following are some strategies to use to help influence students to regain their control over the student’s behaviors. By holding private conversations with students helps the student when making goals. When talking with the student always ensures that the student is aware that there is a problem and that problem must be dealt with. It is always important to start building a relationship with the student; also it is important for the student to take ownership of the problem/behavior. Receiving skills are a way for you to receive the message that the student is sending. You can use silence and nonverbal attending cues. Make a silent signal to the student, for example putting a finger to your lips. You would use this signal when the student uses profane or inappropriate language. Tell the student that you expect them to stop the use of profanity immediately when they see you make the signal. Next when taking with the student use probing questions for example, ask the student if they can tell you more information about their problem.
By doing this is shows that you are listening and want more information to make it better. Try to check perceptions, try to paraphrase or summarize what the student has said using slightly different words, make sure that you understand the student correctly. Last check the student’s feelings; this refers to attempts to reach the students emotions through questions and statements. The teacher can use nonverbal cues, facial expression, and Para lingual cues for instance voice volume, rate, and pitch. Sending skills is a way to allow the teacher to be sure the student understands the problem from the teacher’s point of view. Some examples of sending skills are the following.
- Deal in the here and now. Try not to dwell on the past issues, communicate your thoughts about the present situation and the immediate future.
- Make eye contact and use nonverbal behaviors. By using eye contact it helps let the student know that you are confident and comfortable in dealing with problems.
- Make statements rather than ask questions. When a teacher has specific information or behaviors to discuss, they should lay out the specific facts and then try to elicit the facts from the student.
- Use the “I take responsibility for your feelings”. Make the students understand that you as a teacher also have feelings and explain to them that their behavior can also affect how the teacher feels and the other classmate’s feelings.
- Talk directly to the student and not about him. When talking with the student use ‘You” and specifically describe the problem to the student.
- Give directions to help the student correct their problem, by identifying the problem behavior, be specific regarding that behavior and identify with the student what is appropriate behavior is and have them replace the bad with the correct behavior.
- Make sure the students understands the message you are sending to them.
2. Behavior Contracts with Students.
Behavior contracting is a technique that involves the use of a written agreement; the contract is between a teacher and the student. This agreement commits the student to behave appropriately and offers a specified reward when the commitment is met. A major part of behavior contracting is the use of rewards. Some rewards are additional computer time, timeout passes to go see their favorite teacher in the school. When designing the contract the teacher should keep three principles in mind. The first is to design the contract to have specific gradual improvements on the student’s behavior. Overtime increase the goal until the student has met it at zero distractions per day. Second, gradually lengthen the time period during which the contract must be observed in order to gain the reward. Third, move more away from tangible rewards. When the teacher is writing up the plan, it must state how the plan works with the student. I had a behavior contract with one of my students that were in my second grade class. (*see the reference chart below) I would set it up for each day, the moment that the students would kick or hit another student I would put an x in the box. The student gets three strides and they will not get a sticker. The student needs to earn 3 stickers to get and snack. The students that I work with are extremity food motivated. Sour patch kids and Fun dip are my lifesavers. They love the candy and will work so hard to get it. If the student gets 5 stickers, which is the top goal to get, they get to go see an old teacher they have had in the past and help out in her or his room. They really like doing this. Or they get to go see the Principal. On days that were not good at all, no sticker days, I would have the student fill out a daily reflection sheet. (*see the reference chart below) Leonard the Leopard is the school’s mascot, have the student fill in the information on to the reflection sheet. I would have the student sign the reflection sheet and sometimes, I would send home the letter so the parents can see what is going on in the classroom. If the student does not keep the commitment, and the behavior chart does not work then the teacher will need to have a conference with the parents and set up a different plan. The teacher may also try exclusion of the student, if the student will not stop hitting or kicking they are no longer welcome in the classroom because of their behavior. This technique works very well, but should be used at a last resort. Researchers have found “that the use of positive reward system and individual conferences, combined with teachers expectations, encouraged and promoted student responsibility.” (Dodge, Nizzi & Pitt, 2007). By having a behavior chart the student become more accountable for their behavior and they want to reach for the goals that they have set.
3. Past Relationship with a Teacher.
Developing a positive relationship between the teacher and the student is one of the most effective strategies for helping students who are struggling with school. The teacher needs to work on building a positive relationship together with the student. The teacher should have structured opportunities to talk individually with students, such as at lunch time in the cafeteria once a week, maybe have a lunch bunch were the teacher gets to have lunch with the students who are well behaved and they are doing their work. Also provide a before school and after school homework help for the students in your class. The homework help was what the teacher who had a positive relationship with me, she helped me out the most. It was my second year in college and I struggle with math. I had to pass a state test to move on to the next class. So it was very important that I understand the math questions and how to do them. The teacher gave me her cell phone number and I was able to call her if I was stuck on a math problem. She was also able to email me videos of her doing the long complex math problem. So I was able to see the steps of the problem. I feel it was her help and understanding that got me to pass the sate test and the class. It showed me that she really cared about me and my grades. Just that she would take her personal time to do the videos for me meant a lot. Another team building opportunity for the teacher and student to bond is having planned activities. One could be invite all the students to share their talents and good things that have happened to them, maybe once a week on Friday afternoon allow the students to have a share time. It’s a way to get to know each other. Allow all students to have opportunities for one-on-one or small group discussions with the teacher, such as mini-conferences about their school work that we have done this week. As a teacher we should always treat all students as though they are very special to you, and the teacher should discourage any ideas that you favor any student over another.
4. Student’s self-esteem needs.
Students who have chronic behavior problems suffer from low safe esteem and have a low success to failure rate. Students who fail to develop a strong sense of belonging are much more likely to be connected with negative outcomes such as increased rates of failure, higher dropout rates, increased risk of teenage suicide and an increased likelihood of criminal activity. It is extremely important that each student feels a sense of belonging and connectedness to the teacher and other students. Some behaviors that teachers can use to encourage student self-esteem are the following.
a) The students need for significance. By helping the student acquire the
the necessary knowledge and skills and attitudes that is needed to meet their
need of feeling belonging and independence. By working with the student over time, helping the student develop a sense of group identity and belonging. Engaging the student in small groups, give the student the opportunity to interact. By doing this it can increase the student’s feelings of belonging to a group.
b) The need for competence. The need for competence can be met by the use of encouragement. By showing an interest in the student values, the teacher can recognize those strengths in the student and this will make them feel a sense of competence. Helping the student set short term goals and the student meets their goals helps them with self-esteem and make the student more competent.
c) The Students need for power. The student needs to feel that they have control over the important aspects of their lives. To enhance the student’s sense of power, the teacher needs to provide opportunities for the student to make choices and then the student can experience the consequences of those choices.
d) The Students need for Virtue. This gives the student the need to feel that they are givers as well as takers. When the child has filled the sense of virtue, they will realize that they are able to give to and nurture others. Students can have their sense of virtue fulfilled by participating in community service projects such as food drives. When students are allowed to share opportunities with their classroom peers, it will enhance the student’s sense of virtue. “Supportive social engagement has been evidenced to increase self-esteem, which in turn contributes to greater academic success, and in our culture’s current relationship with media and technology, has additional implications.” (Wagner & Elliott, 2012).
“Behavior Contracts and Checklists That Work”
“Behavior Contracts and Checklists That Work”
- Dodge, D., Nizzi, D., Pitt, W., & Rundolph, K. (2007). Improving Student Responsibility through the use of Individual behavior contracts. ERIC Digest,01-47.
- Quinn, P. (2001). Decreasing Inappropriate Social Behavior in Freshman Seminar through the Use of Interpersonal Skills Training. Saint Xavier University & IRI/Skylight,01-47.
- Wagner, H., & Elliott, A. (2012). Adlerian Adventure-Based Counseling to Enhance Self-Esteem in School Children.
- Behavior Contracts and Checklists That Work | Scholastic. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.scholastic.com/teachers/blog-posts/genia-connell/behavior-contracts-and-checklists-work/
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