Difficult behaviors are a fact of life for a teacher. How to deal with those challenging student behaviors is not so cut and dried. Deep down we know that demanding students are crying out for attention and help, and need guidance to support the reshaping of their behaviors. Yet early on in a new relationship with exigent students, we typically don't have the rapport required to reform behaviors.
Years ago, friends and mentors Barb Lawson and Rose Miller taught us to think of our students as a bank account or ATM. As with our bank account, we cannot go to the ATM and withdraw money if we haven't made a deposit. Considering this same analogy in regard to our students, we are unable to make withdrawals in the form of remodeling their behavior until we have made many positive deposits into their accounts. The idea of making those positive deposits into our most difficult students' emotional bank accounts can be more challenging than one would think. When noncompliance seems to be the norm, it is easy to fall into the pattern of constantly correcting the off-task and defiant behaviors.
One way we remind ourselves to make positive emotional deposits into students' accounts is by putting ourselves on a behavior plan before attempting to intervene and modify their behavior. The form below is one we have used many times. By dividing each hour of the school day into four segments, we simply put a check mark into the box each time we have a positive interaction with our most taxing students.
Our goal is twofold:
- Make many positive, heartfelt deposits into the students' account
- Retrain our own behaviors by reminding ourselves to notice good things about these worthy students at least four times an hour.
We photocopy a number of these forms and keep one taped to the front of our conferring notebook as a reminder to make those positive deposits. Once relationships are more secure, we begin the process of helping the students refine their own behavior, setting them up for a successful school year.