When it comes to creating positive behavioral change, individual attention is the way to go. Unfortunately, given most teachers’ class size, providing this type of attention is a challenge. In a whole-group setting, teachers control, channel, subdue and maintain, but rarely do they change behaviors. This is because behaviors mainly occur in a relationship, and it is difficult, if not impossible, to build individual relationships “en masse.”
Interestingly enough, when academic concerns arise, educators find a way to schedule more individualized support. Students are divided into small groups; skills are targeted, taught, reinforced and assessed. The most current label for this process is called Response-To-Intervention. This service is provided based on an overwhelming academic need. Mother necessity, where would we be? (That was a Schoolhouse Rock reference for all you youngsters who didn’t clue in.)
Administrators must acknowledge we have another overwhelming need that must be addressed – discipline. Given the large numbers of students with behavioral concerns, individual teachers can’t adequately target, teach, reinforce and assess. A school-wide approach is needed. Some districts are beginning to provide this type of support in the form of behavioral Response-To-Intervention time; however, this seems to be the exception, rather than the norm.
Until behavioral needs in schools are proactively addressed in a systematic way, affording more individualized time and teachable moments, teachers will continue to simply control behaviors in whatever whack-a-mole manner they are able. Hang on, teachers. Be it ever so slowly, summer approaches.