The Power of Reflection
The impulsiveness of middle school students is one of the reasons most of us enjoy teaching this age group. During adolescence they are forming their opinions, ideas, and likes/dislikes, about the world and reality they live in. Ultimately, this is the time when most students begin to form their personalities as well as share every thought that runs through their heads without filter. We love it; it is very satisfying to be able to help guide students to become the people they are. We have the amazing opportunity to teach them about the world through our subject and content area, but we also have the opportunity to help them develop and grow as good citizens and great human beings.
This is no easy feat to accomplish. Working with middle school students is very challenging and it requires teachers to have a strong set of social skills, patience, perspective, and behavior management techniques.
One of the management techniques we discussed has been the creation and development of classroom expectations as a whole class. This is a great strategy to guide and manage behavior in a class because students were involved and in control of the final product. Students need to have their voices and opinions heard. But, what are we to do as teachers when students make poor choices and do not follow the expectations. Regardless of the framework your school district has adopted for your teacher evaluation plan, it is evident in order for a teacher to receive a distinguished in his/her summative evaluation more ownership needs to be put in the hands of students. As teachers make the shift from direct instruction to the role of facilitator, an easy place is classroom behavior because it can benefit both the teacher and students. There are numerous techniques that can be implemented to address negative behavior, but we are going to focus on utilizing a behavior reflection log as an intervention.
We have all been in a situation where we have a student who is not following classroom expectations. The student is disrespectful, disruptive to classroom learning, and after several re-directions and maybe even a personal discussion, cannot simply not get their behavior in line. So, what are you going to do?
There are so many possible factors and variables impacting this student. From situations at home, social issues at school, lack of sleep, or hunger. If the behaviors do not warrant a significant consequence according to your school handbook, we recommend trying to resolve the situation within your class as often as possible because we feel it helps to foster an environment of mutual respect. But please use your professional discretion and follow all school guidelines and rules in any matter.
We have developed a Behavior Reflection sheet where students will have the opportunity to reflect and process their choices. The sheet is self-explanatory and will limit the time a teacher needs to take to deal with the misbehavior. It also needs to be signed by a parent, which allows for a possible conversation with the student and their parent and/or a future conversation with the teacher. The sheet can be used as documentation. This behavior intervention or management technique has worked for us so we figured we would share our practices. The goal is for the student to perform the cognitive sweat and to reflect upon their decision making and to identify its’ connection to the classroom expectations; it also allows them a chance to develop a path towards redemption with guidance from the teacher.
The process should look something like this:
The Behavior Reflection Template can be found here to download and can be modified to fit your classroom expectations and needs.