A new fifth-grade teacher, Ms. Rollison, is excited to start her teaching career. Her anticipation grows as she steps into her empty classroom for the first time. For a few satisfied moments, she contemplates how wonderful it will be to have a class full of eager students and how much she’s looking forward to leading their learning. But then doubt begins to steal away her confidence. “I know how to teach, but what am I going to do if they don’t listen to me or refuse to work? What if the kids swear or get into fights? How do I get them to come to class on time? How do I get them to behave?” For many first-year teachers like Ms. Rollison, student behavior is the biggest concern. In fact, when new teachers experience stress or burn out—or even contemplate leaving the profession—it’s often related to issues of classroom behavior management. Although Ms. Rollison receives good advice from some experienced teachers, she is unsure about the advice that others give her, such as:
Don’t smile until Christmas.
Kids behave better if the teacher is really nice.
Let them develop their own classroom system.
Just buy a lot of candy.
If they get too disruptive, send them to the office.
Ms. Rollison appreciates the advice, but she suspects that these strategies might not be the best ways to address problem behavior. Now she is even more confused and anxious about teaching.
Here’s your Challenge:
What does Ms. Rollison need to understand about student behavior?
What can Ms. Rollison do to increase the chances that her students will behave appropriately in class?