When it comes to classroom behaviour, we could learn a lot from business and sales people.
Classroom behaviour is about finding incentives to make students do what we want. We are all sales people but do you have the same skills.
Surely we could benefit from effective sales people if we are to learn the skills to persuade and influence others, particularly students and specifically the turkeys. When it comes to behaviour management, teachers spend a good percentage of their time persuading, influencing and convincing others. Leadership Management calls this moving others.
The only difference for a teacher is that, unlike a salesperson, money does not change hands. However, if you consider the time, effort and energy you have to commit, there are remarkable similarities.
Think about it.
Classroom Behaviour often requires the teacher to convince a wayward student that they will be better off by following the class rules.
The salesman sets about convincing the customer that they would be better off by purchasing their product. That is not dissimilar to the teacher convincing the student they would be better off with options other than poking Brian in the ear with his felt pen!
We know that sales and sales theory has changed dramatically. I wonder if the teaching approach to behaviour management has changed that much.
What causes sales people to have a bad rap is because of the artificial nature of the old sales process. When the sales person is only interested in ONLY making the sale, the deal normally turns sour. people just walk away.
Remember the old adage, "Buyer beware." That came about because the sales person of old would give half-truths or untruths just to bring about the sale. Thank goodness those days are over - or they should be.
You see today the buyer has as much information as the sales person. Often more. Buyers are more astute than they once were.
Students are the same. They generally have as much access to information as the teacher does.
This has impacted on teaching. Thinking about the old days when kids went to school to receive information from teachers. Teachers handed it out - kids sucked it in - or not. The relationship was quite simple.
This process continued for quite a long time and behaviour management was simple.
If you misbehaved the teacher didn't give you the knowledge.
If you arrived home without your knowledge, your parents belted you.
The problem (if it is a problem) is that kids now have the same access to information.
That changes the role of the teacher. That's another story.
What’s more relevant here is that it has begun to change what happens inside the classroom.
Teachers become more like sales people and need a new set of skills. Teachers become movers of ideas just like sales people.
The old ABC’s of sales were Always Be Closing.
You MUST know sales people who use this technique. Years ago they would have been on top of the sales table. Today people just walk away from pushy salespeople who can only use this strategy.
That is not unlike how some teachers employ behaviour management strategies. They are "Always Be Closing". Try THIS in the hope that the kid would do THAT. If THAT didn’t work try THIS – then try THIS. This behaviour management strategies starts with finding the right solution to the problem. The kid on the other hand keeps finding problems to the solution. It seems a never-ending battle.
The old ABC ("Always Be Closing") of behaviour management is damn hard work – as you would no doubt know.
Daniel Pink is the leader of the modern behaviour management strategies of influencing people and he tells us the new ABC’s of selling is Attunement, Buoyancy and Clarity.
Let me explain in my words using Dan's words (and I apologize to Dan for my creative licence as I relate this to teaching.
The new A is attunement. It's an awful word but I suppose he needed an "A" word. He could have used accord or agreement to get the "A" word. Anyway the meaning is more important than the word. Attunement is about relationship building through empathy. Taking or at least being aware of the perspective of others. In this case students. A two-way empathetic approach is best but at the very least getting inside a student's head is important if you plan to impact positively on their behaviour.
Buoyancy is about staying afloat. Just like the duck. All calm on the surface while paddling like crazy below. In this case the teacher needs to be buoyant. I've often been the duck. Just keep floating while paddling like nuts where people can’t see. It gives the semblance of control. The semblance often builds control in yourself. Have you every had a parent-teacher conference where you start off like the duck but in the end you find yourself comfortably on top of the water.
Clarity is helping students move from accessing information to controlling it. This is the active engagement part of teaching.
Jump back to Attunement. It’s important to understand why attunement matters so much. It is the relationship builder in this equation and I have spoken about relationship building many times before
It’s now tougher for teachers to simply command and expect compliance.
The better approach is to build empathy and understand another’s perspective in order to manage situations. This can be tough. You see, people in power tend NOT to be empathetic. That is, feeling powerful tends to degrade our NEED and our ABILITY to take another’s perspective.
This is important because teachers are often in a position of relative power with regard to their students.
So behaviour management requires beginning from a different position.