C.M. Corner: How We Communicate pt. 2February 12, 2018 by Travis Chapman
Student misbehavior can be caused by any number of factors and most of those factors occur outside of the classroom. However, it is our responsibility to ensure that while in the classroom, we provide a safe learning environment for all of our students. One key to remember is to take a supportive approach. According to the Crisis Prevention Institute (CPI), taking a supportive, or empathic and non-judgmental, approach helps to calm anxious tendencies when students become uncomfortable in the classroom.
Most educators will say, “I do have empathy for my students and care about their wellbeing. I work hard to make sure they feel safe!” However, the things you do and say may not be communicating that to the students you are working with. We need to make sure we are being observant of how the student is interpreting our words and actions. While we may be trying to show support, placing your hand gently on a student’s shoulder may be an uncomfortable experience for the student. We don’t know what situations that student has experienced in their life. That simple action could cause your classroom to no longer be a safe space for them to grow and learn. Instead, to gain a student’s attention, approach them in their field of vision or maybe lightly tap on their desk; if you want to show support, offer verbal encouragement. When we may be dealing with behavioral issues, avoid addressing misbehavior publicly. Often times, this will cause embarrassment and trigger a student’s emotional defenses. Rather, find a moment to discuss the behavior privately. If behavior needs to be addressed publicly, call attention to the positive behaviors other students are exhibiting.
Further, comments about a student’s identity, race/culture, religion, sexual preference, gender or the like will often immediately cause the student to become defensive and uncooperative, not to mention, violate TOC and district policies. We need to make sure that not only are we intending to communicate safety, empathy and support, but that it is being received that way by our students in both our words and actions.
If you would like any additional resources or have any tips of your own that you would like to share, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. We would love to hear from you!