There is no doubt that student misbehaviour gets a reaction. It drives up our blood pressure and causes us no end of grief in the classroom. Teachers often play into the hands of misbehaving students' hands by making misbehaviour into a badge of honour.
We often feel compelled to give misbehaving students a lecture on how they should behave and why it is so important to us that they do. The dreaded one-on-one lecture/pep talk.
The intention of the lecture is to bring about a change in the student's behaviour by impacting on their sense of self discipline.
Honestly, teachers hate giving these lectures, kids hate receiving these lectures and neither benefit. In fact, not only do these lectures not help, they hinder the development of self-discipline.
The teacher will attempt to build up the student's self-confidence and rebuild pathways to a more successful classroom experience. The student will usually stand passively and glassy-eyed.
The teacher continues to list all the positives that the students has to offer. Praise, albeit artificial, soothes the situation and supposedly teaches strategies the student can put in place. All designed to help find this little toad a place in the grand scheme of things.
The teacher all but tap dances. The kid leaves but nothing changes.
You see, it has been done before. It takes time, effort but is repeated again and again.
There is an assumption that words will make a difference to classroom misbehaviour. It should. It is totally logical. Kids misbehave because they don't know better, right? But it never seems to work.
Surprisingly, most misbehaving students need less attention from teachers. It is attention they seek, not what they need.
Your need to provide them with a pep talk gives misbehaving students more attention than they need. Don't turn misbehaviour into a badge of honour.
You have to interact with the misbehaving students. But you need to interact on your terms.
1. It is not the first time they have heard it. Misbehaving kids have usually been misbehaving for years. So they have heard these pep talks before. They probably know when to say, "Yes sir." Without even hearing the words. I am sure they will nod and even look you in the eye; but it is all an act.
2. Talk is cheap. All the good things you are acknowledging aren't true. You know it. They not it. And they know you know it. Usually the pep talk is not based on fact. It is all smoke and mirrors.
3. You show you have more invested in their improvement as a teacher than they have as a student. You have given away your power base. You become the desperate one. It becomes an imbalanced relationship because improvement is tenured not in the student but the teacher. You want a change but they misbehaving student seldom does.
4. You have just highlighted how different they are. Have you said the same positive things about the honour student? You have reinforced the fact that this misbehaving student must be treated different. That may or not be true but you have just proved it.
Think of your response to your honour student or the school captain. It would probably be a quiet pat on the back. That is the most appropriate response for the misbehaving student.
As soon as they do something right, give this little miscreant a small thumbs up, a wink, a nod or some small gesture that says you have recognised their behaviour but, like all the other students in the class, it is what they should be doing.
Keep your acknowledgements of effort authentic and genuine.
The misbehaving student, like all students in your class, need to be accepted as a valued member of your classroom community. Genuine and subtle responses to real steps to improvement show your students they are appreciated members of your classroom community.
Check out the Behaviour Management for Relief Teachers online course.