There are at least two conditions necessary to fill a bucket with water. You have to put water into it, and the bucket can’t leak.
Similarly, we can’t just feed academic content to students and expect them to succeed; behavioral success and academic success are interrelated. ESSA (Every Student Succeeds Act), the recently passed federal elementary and secondary education authorization, finally acknowledges this.
Specifically, ESSA calls for development of consistently positive and safe school and classroom settings, student engagement, and decreasing discipline referrals. Importantly the act declares these activities as a valid use of Title I funds, and schools receiving Title IV funds must document and assess how they are doing this.
Do we need this?
Do we have students who are behaviorally acting up because of academic frustrations? Do we have kids who can’t sit in a seat, can’t work independently, or who can’t work in a group?
As Howard Knoff points out, the goal is to replace inappropriate student behavioral problems with the appropriate responses so that students can self-manage and become independent learners. Instead of individual initiatives to handle the many situations that contribute to behavioral problems (for example bullying, trauma, poverty), we need an overarching multi-tiered approach:
- Positive environment
- Articulated behavioral expectations
- Communication and teaching of those expectations
- Motivate and hold students accountable for appropriate behavior
- Consistency, across time, students, settings, and situations
- Special situations: preparedness to adapt to different settings
The first step for educators (and schools and districts) is awareness. Dr. Knoff has compiled a series of questions we all need to ask ourselves:
- What am I doing to promote high levels of effective interpersonal, social problem-solving, conflict resolution, and coping skills/behaviors by all students?
- How can I promote high levels of critical thinking, reasoning, and problem solving skills by all students?
- Am I learning and sharing effective classroom management with other teachers in my school and PLN, and specifically, are there techniques to handle the issues that sometimes result in office discipline referrals?
- Are there ways I can involve parents and the community to support student self-management
On Thursday night, October 20, Howard is going to lead a discussion with educators about effective multi-tiered approaches in a free discussion on Edchat Interactive. Then on November 9, he will continue the discussion on behavioral interventions for challenging students. Feel free to join us by registering here.