With the mad dash between Thanksgiving and Winter Break well underway, it is easy to focus only on academics to ensure everything is complete before the holidays.
The Lesson Cycle—A Useful Tool for Improving Behavior
Students can quickly get out of “school mode” with the excitement of the upcoming holidays, school events, and changes in the daily schedule. However, continuing to teach and reinforce your classroom and school-wide expectations will help to ensure that your students continue to learn during this somewhat chaotic time.
Teach the expectations and behaviors you want students to demonstrate as a lesson cycle similar to any other subject matter.
Step 1: Introduce the expectations
Remind students of the specific area of behavior or procedure you want to improve. Get their attention and focus. Give the related 5 Ws – Who, What, When, Where, and Why for the expectations. Don’t forget to also include the “How” as in “How It looks when done right.”
Step 2: Define the objectives
Explain clearly what you want to happen and what students should be doing as the outcome. Clearly state the consequences for non-compliance. Stress the importance of compliance for future learning and developing a community of learners working together for the common good of all.
Step 3: Provide direct instruction
Provide verbal explanations. Model the behavior expected. Give examples. Use visual representations or cues. Explain what the class should look and sound like if students are following the expectations.
Step 4: Guided practice
Let students role play. Have multiple students show examples. Practice the expectations in different settings or under various teaching/learning formats—seatwork, presentations, group work, partnered learning, etc. Have students explain what should be happening. Provide questions to check for understanding. Reinforce appropriate behaviors.
Step 5: Independent practice and application
Allow students to practice and apply what they have learned through activities and classwork over the next few days. Redirect and correct inappropriate words or actions. Refer to the examples. Use positive reinforcement for improved behaviors. Ask a partner teacher to come in and observe, then describe for the students when he/she saw the expectations occurring and point out any problem areas.
Step 6: Assessment and closure
Give feedback and reteach as necessary making sure to restate the objectives and retell key concepts as they relate to future behavior/learning. Assess students’ mastery of the skill.
When expectations are clearly stated, modeled, taught, and reinforced, most students will respond. Spending time on teaching expectations lets students know behavior is an important component of the classroom. Students are also more likely to respond positively when they believe the teacher cares about them and wants the best for them. When you encourage them to take ownership for their behavior, you empower them.
There will still be students who needs further intervention, and it is helpful to anticipate his/her behavior. Be aware of signs that indicate the student might be at his/her frustration level so you can intervene early before the behavior escalates.