Teach English in Changgang Zhen - Ezhou Shi

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It is absolutely true that having students with disruptive behaviour can cause confusion and interfere with the classroom activities. There is also no doubt that students with bad behaviour can be a challenge for inexperienced teachers. In the history of education, punishments were regularly used and they still are in some schools. Enforcing a punishment system inside a school has several cons, and students that receive punishments will unlikely be role model students. Punishment can only hurt and humiliate students and teachers have very low chances to achieve any positive result. Moreover, teachers that use punishments can be seen as very intimidating. Hence, the risk of compromising the performance of the entire class is very high. However, society has changed and psychologists are providing teachers and instructors with new strategies and approaches. I have a personal experience with inappropriate and “bad” behaviour because I have a son who is an autistic child. Of course, my son’s bad behaviour inside the classroom was caused by ASD. Before I even knew what ASD was, I was raising my son believing that little punishments - taking away the iPad for a day, for example - would have helped me to teach him how to behave well. Unfortunately, in that moment I was wrong since my child was not able to understand that taking away the iPad was a consequence of his bad behaviour. When I finally knew about an intervention called ABA (Applied Behavioural Analysis) my life changed completely. I became a trainer and learned to teach my son how to control himself and his emotions. Setting aside the criticisms over ABA, I believe that this type of intervention is really helpful in any situation. In fact, I’ve used and I’m still using ABA strategies also with my neurotypical son. Applying behavioral principles to educational settings is becoming very common. The school where my kids are enrolled in is a relatively small international school that has, among his students, kids with special needs. These kids have their own special teachers and they work every day inside normal classes. A group of teachers have recently started using the same visual material that kids on the autistic spectrum are regularly using. They started copying the same ABA strategies which include positive reinforcement, token economy and no attention to bad behaviour. These teachers noticed that the general behaviour of all the students improved a lot. Their students were highly motivated to participate in the classroom and they started helping each other to be “good students”. First of all, teachers should praise the good behaviour of his/her students. When students misbehave, it is better to ignore them for awhile and focus on those students who are actually behaving well. This will shift the attention to something positive rather than negative. If the bad behaviour continues - students that never do homework, forget the textbook, talk during the lesson disturbing others or talk with no respect to the teacher - other strategies may be used. In fact, there is not only one way to deal with misbehaving students. If teachers fail with one positive strategy, another one may be used without feeling lost or inadequate. A good way to teach a student to remember to bring his/her textbook is helping him/her to create a check-list of material that he/she needs to bring to school warning him/her that without a textbook he/she cannot work with the other students. If a student is often disrespectful, besides praising those who are respectful, a teacher can ask the class to write the rules that students should follow. This strategy does actually works with young learners because children tend to respect more those rules that they came up with rather than rules enforced solely by the teacher. If punishments tend to fail as a behaviour modification strategy, it is very important that teachers find and learn about strategies that erase bad behaviours and improve the active and positive participation of the students in small and large classes. Another strategy that has been studied by psychologists is the token economy. I think it is worth to spend a few words on the token economy because many researches, conducted in primary schools and universities, show that a token economy system not only modifies or totally decreases disruptive behaviours, but it improves the students’ academic performance. Students become more motivated to keep a good behaviour and pay attention. In fact, research shows that after the introduction of the token economy, the students’ participation in the classroom increased significantly. (Boniecki, Kurt & Moore, Stacy. (2003). Breaking the Silence: Using a Token Economy to Reinforce Classroom Participation. Teaching of Psychology - TEACH PSYCHOL. 30. 10.1207/S15328023TOP3003_05). It can be argued that eventually a token economy can become less effective because the rewards become expected. This can be true if the teachers do not make an appropriate plan. I believe that teachers and instructors must plan carefully how to implement a token economy system. There are many factors that must be considered such as the age of the students and individual versus whole-class token economy system. It is my opinion that a whole-class token economy system is the best choice. An individual system can frustrate students if the teacher is not fair or does not give the same attention to all the students. In conclusion, teachers should never punish students for bad behaviour simply because we do not teach them anything positive. On the contrary, the only result is increasing anger and frustration.