In my last post, I stated that children misbehave in school because they lack the skills to be successful.  I realize this doesn’t include all misbehavior, because every student has his own set of life circumstances that he/she brings to school, but I do contend that a majority of misconduct can be corrected with explicit teaching. I also argue that explicit teaching does not equal lecturing. 

Teachers often complain, “I have gone over our class rules and expectations, but my students are not just not following them.” This produces a considerable amount of frustration for teachers. They wrongly assume that students know how to act in the classroom or the lunchroom or the auditorium, etc. just because they told the students their behavioral expectations at the beginning of the year.

John Wooden, former UCLA basketball coach, is credited for saying: You haven’t taught until they have learned.   The days of posting rules and class expectations on the wall, explaining them once and occasionally pointing to them are long gone.

So how does one teach behavior expectations?  One consideration is to include your students in this process. Marzano reports, “Effective management includes getting input, feedback, and suggestions from the students. It is helpful to have a discussion of the purpose of rules and procedures and how they develop out of the needs of the group.”  After the discussion, you as the teacher, will have the final say regarding the rules of your classroom. However, students who have a voice in this process are not only more willing to adhere to the rules but to take the consequences when they don’t.

Once you establish your class rules, use direct instruction to teach behavioral expectations for procedures.  If you are a secondary teacher and think this is only for elementary teachers, think again. If you are frustrated with specific misbehavior, take the time now, wherever you are in the school year, to teach your expectations for those particular situations.

A middle school teacher told me it bothered her that her students were so boisterous in the hallway waiting to come into her class. This conversation took place several months into the school year. We put together a plan, and the next time she saw her class, she taught “How to Wait in the Hall Before Class Starts.” She explained this lesson in the hallway because behavior expectations are best shown in their context.  Just like any good content lesson plan, she knew what her goal was in teaching this lesson as well as the rationale behind it. She used the direct instruction model, “I do,” “we do,” and “you do.” She demonstrated the full range of behaviors, but her students only practiced the correct responses. Then each student needed to show that he/she could do the expected behavior.

Another famous coach, Vince Lombardi, once said, Practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect.  This is one reason you have your students only practice the desired behavior.  Will hallway behavior for the students mentioned above now be perfect?  Maybe, maybe not. They may need to revisit this lesson, just like they do for any content concept that needs reteaching from time to time to stick.

For more information regarding teaching behavior expectations, visit my website store. There you will find  Teach-To’s: 100 Behavior Lesson Plans and Essential Advice by Rick Dahlgren with Melanie Latimer.