Friday, 12 April 2013

Behaviour vs. Learning

The number one reason that teachers leave the profession is students' behaviour.

The number one antidote to challenging behaviour is engagement. Remember this word! Engagement, engagement, engagement! There are so many reasons that children exhibit challenging behaviours. Some are not really within their control. There's one thing that I've noticed with children of all ages. When they are happily engaged behaviour becomes a non-issue. So what should we do? We should remember that we are teachers, and a teacher's focus should be on learning rather than on behaviour. Is learning taking place? What learning is taking place? How can we facilitate further learning?

Children love to learn. Learning is fun. Learning is empowering. Learning stimulates us to want to learn more. Why not experiment and shift our focus? Providing learning experiences for children is time consuming and takes planning and imagination. We need to observe children's interests, stimulate their curiosity, create new interests, and unblock pathways to new learning journeys. As challenging as this sounds, managing difficult behaviour every day is far more frustrating. What's even more important is that it can be damaging to children. Giving children the opportunity to identify as learners is far more powerful than having them identify as people who behave badly.

Instead of teaching children how to behave, let's teach them how to learn. The benefits for children will be lifelong, and if we engage in shared learning experiences with them we are sure to learn a lot too. At the end of the day, instead of reflecting on how we could have managed challenging behaviour differently, we can feel proud knowing that we have empowered a child to take ownership of his or her learning, to become a person who is confident and involved, and who is connected to his or her social and physical worlds.

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