I am returning to teaching after a 30-year absence and find that CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT is my biggest challenge. Typical high school behaviors I have experienced include LACK OF INTEREST, MANIPULATION, INAPPROPRIATE LANGUAGE, and DISREGARD FOR RULES.
I recently attempted to implement the Raise Responsibility System in my substitute teaching assignments and have experienced some degree of success. Students seem to be somewhat dumbfounded when I explain the behavior levels and start to quiet down and get busy soon after I begin the first phase of reinforcement—identifying the behavior level.
Since these subbing assignments provide so little time to implement and reap the benefits of this system, I would welcome any suggestions you might have for a substitute teacher.
Re: CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT – Most educators confuse classroom management with discipline. Management has to do with procedures. Teach your students procedures for EVERYTHING you want them to do: how you want materials passed out and collected, how you desire them to address you, etc. Also let them know your expectations. Don't assume they know what YOU expect.
Re: INTEREST – Let students know that if they decide not to learn, it is their decision. You will not even attempt to force learning; it can't be done. But you will not allow a student to disrupt another person's learning.
In this mini-lecture, let your students know that no one suffers from their lack of learning but themselves—that if they decide to put forth the effort, they will be better off, more satisfied, become more knowledgeable, and more pleased with themselves.
Emphasize that the choice to learn or not is theirs, not yours. (Don't be surprised that when you use this approach, more students will put forth effort. The reason is that you are using noncoercion and are prompting them to reflect and self-evaluate.)
From an instructional viewpoint, tap into their curiosity—a great motivator. Have them grapple with a problem/challenge about the lesson BEFORE you start teaching. After they're involved, then do your sharing.
Re: MANIPULATION – Revisit level C. Discuss external motivation. When people are manipulated, they become victims. A victor examines the effort to manipulate him/her and then chooses to follow or not. In contrast to Level C behavior, Level D behavior starts with the questions, "Will this help me become more responsible?" "Is it the right thing to do?" and "Will others benefit from my actions?"
Re: INAPPROPRIATE LANGUAGE – Discuss the words "appropriate" and "inappropriate." Pajamas are not worn to school, you no longer drink from a baby bottle, and you don't yell at your parents if you want them to do something for you. These are simply inappropriate behaviors. Similarly, when inappropriate language is used at school, it is an attempt to gain favor by showing off.
Everyone seeks, desires, and wants feelings of competency, importance, and wishes to be liked. Unfortunately, the immature person who uses inappropriate language is operating at level B – using inappropriate language because it will gain attention. In essence, the person becomes a victim by allowing irresponsible thinking to direct behavior.
With this introduction, put the topic on the table for discussion. After this little reflection exercise, you will see dramatic improvements.
Re: RULES – Use the term "Responsibilities" instead of "Rules." Rules are expectations or procedures. If they are procedures, teach them—as mentioned above. Read the section on rules.