Proactive - Not Reactive

Getting out in front of misbehavior.


Our days are packed. It seems like every minute of the day is taken up with vital instruction, and that leaves little time for building a rapport with students. But building healthy student-teacher relationships turns out to be key to successful classroom management, and if you skip it, you will find yourself suffering the consequences later.

In Student Behavior, Part I, Nancy Sharoff, ELT instructor and Ellenville Teachers Association member explains how taking the time to connect with students heads off behavior problems. This seminar helps educators reflect on their responses to student misbehavior and gives them tools to modify their response and take a more proactive approach. This is the first of a three-part series, and Sharoff encourages educators to take all three seminars.

Here are some tips from the series:

1 - Be proactive, not reactive.

Take the time to open communication channels at the beginning of your relationship with students. Treat them warmly, but also establish clear boundaries and expectations. Find out what makes them tick and demonstrate that you want to learn from them, too.

2 - Be thoughtful in your response to misbehavior.

“Too often, educators are pressed for time. They respond to student behavior and then continue class. Just as we want our students to reflect on their learning, teachers need the time to reflect on their teaching practices,” Sharoff said. Consider what you know about that student. Can you find the underlying causes for their disruptive behavior? Do they have unique needs? Are those needs being met?

3 - Start a dialogue with the misbehaving student.

Let the student know you want to make their learning experience positive so they can succeed. Ask them for input and show them you are genuinely interested in what they have to say. Put their behavior in the larger context of the district’s code of conduct and remind the student why the code of conduct is important for the wellbeing of the whole learning community. 

ELT coursework is offered year-round and can be used for undergraduate, graduate and in-service credit as well as to fulfill Continuing Teacher and Leader Education requirements. For more information, go to elt.nysut.org.