Best Back to School Behavior Control Ideas Ever
edited: Tuesday, September 16, 2008
By Ruth Herman Wells
Rated "G" by the Author.
Posted: Tuesday, September 16, 2008
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Back to school doesn't have to mean back to behavior problems. This article explains how to have a better school year from the first day of school.
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It's a new school year, but for many youngsters back to school means back
to problems. It can seem like such a mystery why so many of today's kids struggle so much
each school year, but perhaps we've overlooked a common sense explanation
Have you ever noticed that we don't actually teach kids to be students? It's true .
While every school district has a formal, written-down plan to teach kids
academics, few districts have a formal, written-down plan to teach kids
how to be students and take advantage of all the great academics they are
offered. Perhaps we need to teach kids to be students exactly the same
way we teach them how to read, learn math, and master social studies. Teaching kids how to
be students is very different than stating the rules. Most teachers review the rules, but
many instructors don't ensure that their new students have the skills, attitudes, and
motivation needed to properly comply.</P>
In our Breakthrough Strategies to Teach and Counsel Trouble Youth
Workshops that we host around the country,
we often joke that in a time long ago,
and a place far away, moms and dads reliably motivated their offspring, and
prepared them to be successful students. Continuing the theme, we note that time
and place are gone, and they aren't coming back any time soon. Sadly,
many of today's families don't motivate their children to care about school, and don't
teach them the skills needed to succeed as students. If the family doesn't prepare the child to succeed in school,
by default, that task must become the job of the teacher if the family can't be
engaged in doing what they are supposed to do.
We would never throw a child in the deep end of the pool and expect him to
teach himself how to swim. We would never put a child up on the expert ski slope and
expect her to teach herself how to ski. But, we do place children in school each
year and expect them to teach themselves how to be students. That is why so many
teachers work with kids that don't look, act or sound like students. That is why so many
teachers struggle with unmotivated, uninterested youngsters, and have an uphill battle to
maintain good classroom management and control. Teachers are working with untrained, unmotivated
children and youth. It should be no surprise that from Day 1 of the new school year,
so many children struggle.
Districts that take the time to train youngsters how to look, act and sound like
students usually report a drop in attendance problems, tardiness, absences, and behavior
problems. Many report a decrease in expulsions, suspensions and detention. Most report
wasting less instruction time than the national average of 22 minutes per hour lost to
behavior management problems. But those results
make perfect sense and should be expected. Training kids to be students can only yield
improvement, and probably has no significant downside. Training kids to be students should begin
in Pre-K and every year after. Training kids to be students may be the only common sense,
real-world way to build a better school year.
If you do decide to teach your new students how to be prepared for the job they face
over the new school year, there is a lot to cover. So where do you start on Day 1 of the
new school year? We recommend safety and attendance issues come first, then
follow up by teaching the remaining skills your new students need. The subsequent skill
training should include a lot of motivation building. Your youngsters might look, act and
sound completely different if they come to believe that school is more important than the air they
breathe. But don't forget to ultimately include other key school skill training
areas such as adult interaction skills, peer interaction skills,
how to be in a class discussion, homework management skills, punctuality skills, and so on.
For this back to school issue, here are several sample strategies that address an assortment of
critical school skills your students will be needing this year.
From Vacation to Education
Students don't necessarily have the skills to settle themselves back into the routine of school, but sometimes
we assume youngsters can make the big leap on their own, or that they will get help from their parents.
Unfortunately, many students will struggle to make the transition, and many of these youngsters
won't have parental support, so don't assume that all students will be able to fit back in
to the routines and responsibilities of school. Help students let go of summer
break and become ready for more structure and responsibility. To aid in the transition, assist students
to understand the specific differences they're about to face. Distribute pieces of poster board, about
8 x 11 inches in size. Ask the students to write on one side of the poster board: Goodbye Summer. On the other
side, ask students to write: Hello School. Next, ask students to illustrate each side, then discuss their
completed creations, assisting students to identify what they must do to make the "big leap" back to school.
New School Year Resolutions
Some students start off the new school year chock full of negative expectations. Stop the negativity now by
hosting a Happy New School Year Party that is similar to a Happy New Year Party. It's tough to stay negative
and sour at a party. During the party, have each student make New School Year Resolutions listing what they
hope to accomplish during the school year. This approach can really defuse some of the negativity because
school is not fitting these students' bleak view.
Give Me Five
Teach essential paying attention skills to students by playing Give Me Five. Have the student give you a high five
slap then say "Give me five! Two eyes watching, two ears listening, one mouth shut. Give me five!"
When discussing your role with your students, consider using this description that one of our workshop
participants uses each year: "My job is to get you to do what you don't want to do, so you can become what
you do want to become."
Banker, Not Teacher
Because students who graduate earn $329,000 more than those who drop out, you may want to tell the
class that they should refer to you as a banker, not a teacher.
Or, use this line: "A diploma is so valuable that it belongs in your wallet." A great follow-up activity is
to ask your students to speculate on what they would do with an extra $329,000. Another follow-up:
Have students rename your school to be a bank, so Sixteen Acres Elementary School could
become The First Bank of Sixteen Acres or Sixteen Acres Elementary Savings Bank and Loan.
To teach students how to behave in the cafeteria, set up Eating School and practice. Instead of
practicing with actual food, select silly substitutes. For example, instead of spaghetti and meatballs,
students practice with yarn and bolts. Be sure students don't put any of the substitute items in their
mouths, but do select items that are fun so that students won't even notice that they are actually
learning lunch room behavior skills.
Expect the Unexpected
Regularly hiding something in class materials is always a good gimmick to keep students on their
Like These Interventions to Build a Better School Year? We have thousands more on our web site so
be sure to stop by if you want to have a better new school year.