Counterproductive Approaches

Learning requires motivation, but motivation to learn cannot be forced.

Highly effective teachers realize this, so they prompt students to want to put forth effort in their learning by creating curiosity, challenge, and interest in meaningful lessons. In addition, however, and especially with youth in poverty, these successful teachers also create positive relationships with their students by practicing positivity, choice, and reflection. These practices are part of the teaching model. This sysdtem avoids approaches that inhibit motivation for responsibility and learning.

Following are 10 counterproductive approaches that are commonly used. Unfortunately, they are so counterproductive that they actually exacerbate the increasing dropout rate of students—especially in low economic areas.

Teachers too often become stressed by reacting to inappropriate behavior. It is far more effective to employ a proactive discipline approach at the outset to inspire students to want to behave responsibly and then use a non-adversarial response whenever they do not.

Rules are meant to control, not inspire. Rules are necessary in games but when used between people, enforcement of rules automatically creates adversarial relationships. A more effective discipline approach is to teach procedures and inspire responsible behavior through expectations and reflection.

Obedience does not create desire. A more effective approach is for improving discipline is to promote responsibility; obedience then follows as a natural by-product.

The brain thinks in pictures, not in words. When people tell others what NOT to do, the “don’t” is what the brain images. Example: “Don’t look at your neighbor’s paper!” Always communicate in positive terms of what you DO want. Example: “Keep your eyes on your own paper.”

Even the poorest salesperson knows not to alienate a customer, but teachers too often talk to students in ways that prompt negative feelings. Negative feelings stop any desire of students to do what the teacher would like them to do. People do “good” when they feel “good,” not when they feel bad.

Classroom management is the teacher’s responsibility and has to do with teaching, practicing, and reinforcing procedures. Discipline, in contrast, is the student’s responsibility and has to do with self-control. Having clarity between these two is necessary for both preventing and solving problems.

Too often, teachers assume students know how to do what is expected of them. A more effective approach is (a) teaching expectations and procedures, (b) having the students practice, (c) having students visualize the process, and later (d) reinforcing the procedure by having them practice again. This process is necessary in order to have students be successful in performing the activity.

This approach is least effective in changing behavior. Although teachers can CONTROL students temporarily, teachers cannot CHANGE students. PEOPLE CHANGE THEMSELVES, and the most effective approach for actuating students to change is to eliminate coercion.
NOTE: Noncoercion is not to be confused with permissiveness or not using authority.

Although consistency is important, imposing the same consequence on all students is the least fair approach. When a consequence is imposed—be it called “logical” or”natural”—students are deprived of ownership in the decision. A more effective and fairer approach is to ELICIT a CONSEQUENCE or a PROCEDURE TO REDIRECT IMPULSES that will help each student become more responsible. This can easily be accomplished by asking people if they would rather be treated as a group or as individuals. They will readily have a preference to be treated as individuals and have ownership in the decision that will help them, rather than hurt them.

We want to assist young people to be self-disciplined and responsible. Both traits require internal motivation, but rewarding behavior and imposing punishments are external approaches. They also place the responsibility on someone else to instigate a change and, thereby, fail the critical test: How effective are they when no one is around? The greatest reward comes from the self-satisfaction of one’s efforts. In addition, by rewarding kids with something they value (candy, stickers, prizes), we simply reinforce their childish values—when what we really hope to do is to teach them about values that will last a lifetime.

In contrast to these counterproductive approaches, the suggestions on this site eliminate counterwill—the natural response to coercion—and promotes desire for students to become self-disciplined in both behavior and learning

1 Comment
  1. I have been advised that our Grandaughters’ 1st. grade teacher is trying your ideas in dealing with her behavior issues. We also have behavior issues at home. We are her guardians. We are hoping and praying that your program will help her in both areas.