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Kids World

Topics of interest to teachers of English as a second or foreign language to young learners.

September 15, 2002

Behaviour as a Process of Becoming

KidsWhen a class as a whole misbehaves and shows no interest in the subject matter, it is a sign to the teacher that curriculum and lesson plans need to be tighter, more creative, more student-focused, student-friendlier.

When a student displays inappropriate behavior, it is a clear signal that he/she is in need of help. It is the responsibility of the teacher to notice the problem, make time for the student outside of class and to try to give the child support in class which will enable the him/her to succeed in front of his peers. This may involve setting up situations for success. But that is a part of what good teaching is all about.

It is easy for teachers to divide behavior into two categories, such as good and bad. But it is really not that simple. Behavior in the classroom reflects a student's attitude about oneself, one's peers, one's teacher and the subject matter. Many, many variables combine to affect the behavior of students in the classroom on a given day. Some variables are within a teacher's control, such as lesson plans, room atmosphere, materials, seating arrangments, etc. But some are beyond a teacher's control. Each and every student brings to class what he/she experiences at home or in the outside world. No matter how caring or sensitive a teacher is, there is really NO way we can know what students experience at home or socially.

I firmly believe any student who displays "bad behavior" in class is shooting off signals that he/she needs some help, some adult support or understanding. It is important that the teacher never take it personally in thinking that the student is trying to disrupt the class. I have learned over the years that things are not what they appear to be at first glance.

I do believe there is something special and good in each student, and it is the teacher's job to find it. When the teacher discovers that good trait and acknowledges it in front of other people (whether they be classmates, parents or school administrators), then that student remains loyal forever. I want to repeat this because it is really key, "Students are loyal to teachers who find good things in them." In a nutshell, the more positive things we find in students, the less negative things they will display in class.

This is why I think teaching English is a wonderful opportunity and means of instilling confidence and self-esteem in students. Behavior is a process of becoming; and English education can be a catalyst in triggering positive growth that can affect students' lives in a positive way in the future.

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