Successful teachers never stop learning. Educators who improve every year are those who are open to new ideas and who can critically reflect and view their own teaching. (Slavin, 2006) This allows them the flexibility to vary academic and behavioral interventions as the individual needs of their students change. A successful educator must:
- Be knowledgeable of the academic content and use curriculum which meets the students’ needs. Academic frustration is frequently the source of behavior issues. Be aware of your students’ background and prior knowledge of the subjects you are teaching. Do not assume they have had the experiences necessary to grasp the concepts you are presenting.
- Provide chances to learn, practice, and receive meaningful feedback. Researcher John Hattie termed feedback as “the simplest prescription for improving education” (1996). This holds true for academics as well as for social skills training. Students must be able to communicate as well as receive constructive feedback honestly in a risk-free environment in order to progress. A “risk-free” setting does not mean “unchecked, unkind, or undisciplined;” it means “free from ridicule, harassment, and well-managed.” It also makes clear the connection between behavior and consequence. If you keep your hands to yourself, you receive high points on your daily point sheet; if you choose to settle things physically, you do not earn points and may also face disciplinary action, such as a referral.
- Motivate children to participate, constructing knowledge so that students see the application across subject areas, and demonstrate mutual respect for diverse cultures and disabilities. Many educators utilize peer coaching in which students act as tutors. This has proven to be an efficient and effective method for increasing achievement of students from diverse backgrounds in urban and suburban schools. I extend the tutoring model, and encourage my second and third graders with emotional behavioral disabilities to venture outside their classrooms, sharing their original Reader’s Theater scripts and science knowledge with other groups of students. This activity has boosted their self-esteem tremendously.
- Be certain students clearly understand what is expected of them academically. According to Marzano, student achievement increases by 27% when pupils are made aware of the objectives of the academic lesson. Why keep it a secret? My students can even quote the research!
- Ensure that behavioral objectives, or expectations, are understood. These positive behaviors must be taught, modeled, reminded, and monitored.
- Use appropriate strategies in response to behavior problems. There will be fewer inappropriate behaviors in the classroom, and the classroom environment will support and encourage “doing what is right.”
Fuchs, D., Fuchs, L., Mathes, P. G., & Simmons, D. (1997). Peer-assisted learning strategies:
Making classrooms more responsive to diversity. American Educational Research Journal, 34(1), 174-206.
Glasgow, N. & Hicks, C. (2003). What successful teachers do. California: Corwin Press.
Hattie, J. & Marsh, H. (1996). The relationship between research and teaching: A meta-analysis. Review of Educational Research, 66(4), 507-542.
Marzano, R., Pickering, D., & Pollack J. (2001). Classroom instruction that works: Research-based strategies for increasing student achievement. Alexandria: Association for Supervision & Curriculum DevelopmentBe aw.
Slavin, R. (2006). Educational psychology: Theory and practice. Boston: Pearson, Allyn, & Bacon:
Witt, J. C., VanDerHeyden, A. M., & Gilbertson, D. (2004). Instruction and classroom management: Prevention and intervention research. In R.B. Rutherford, Jr., M.M. Quinn, & S.R. Mathur (Eds.), Handbook of Research in Emotional and Behavioral Disorders. (1st ed., pp. 426-445). New York: Guilford Press.