I’m pleased to share this perspective on a more productive way to address student behavior by guest blogger Shané Beauford, Coordinator of Systems Thinking at IDE Corp.

Student behavior is a hot topic in schools, with some schools moving to programs that depend on extrinsic rewards to prompt positive behaviors. Often, when addressing student behavioral problems, teachers speak directly to the behavior in order to redirect students back to task. What if we were to switch that? 

In the Learner-Active Classroom, the teacher’s role shifts from an emphasis on instruction to an emphasis on facilitating learning.

When you purposefully facilitate, you:

As you move around the room to facilitate, take notice of students who are off task or are slow to start their next activity, and ask them about the content. Re-engage students with what they are learning about currently or what they are working on. Here are some possible lead-ins:

  • * Tell me about what you are reading.
  • * Explain to me what ________ means.
  • * How would you go about solving that problem?
  • * What have you found interesting about _________?

By asking students about the learning activity, you are refocusing them on that task without probing them with management questions (What are you working on? What should you be doing?, etc.). An important aspect of facilitation is the follow-through. Let those students know that you will be back in 2 to 3 minutes with further questions or discussion about their progress. The key then is to go back to those students after 2 to 3 minutes.  You are addressing the off-task behavior but in a way that focuses on a positive learning activity rather than negative behavior comments. After all, your goal is to get the students back on track with their learning and activities.