“Succes in life is founded upon attention to the small things rather than to the large things; to the evry day things nearest to us.”
– Booker T. Washington
Dr. Linda Albert, through the classroom management program Cooperative Discipline, teaches specific ways we can identify the 4 goals of misbehavior attention, power, revenge and avoidance of failure. It is a two-fold process that teaches us, 1) to identify how we feel and respond and, 2) how the student responds to what we do. When we can become successful in our ability to readily identify our emotional pressure guage (our internal feelings associated with each goal of misbehavior) and begin to catch our normal reaction to the behavior being acted out by the student, we’ll grow in our success of quickly identifying the goal (or misbehavior) and learn to address it at the moment of misbehavior in a timely effective manner that influences the student to manage their own behavior. As the students have goals to misbehave, our goal is to influence the student to take responsibility for their behavior and make consistent positive choices that will help them achieve their emotional needs of feeling capable, connected and contributing in productive positive ways more often.
Goal of Misbehavior #1 Attention Seeking Behavior is the student’s way of saying look at me or notice me when they’re in the classroom. Passive attention may look like being slow to get on task. Active attention could be tapping a pencil on the desk.
- Our emotional pressure guage reads mild.
- We feel annoyed, irritated and may take actions of scolding, reminding, nagging, rescuing (taking a tapping pencil), or lecturing.
- The student responds by stopping temporarily, but may continue later because if they succeed in getting attention by doing it it’ll happen again!
My professional colleague I spoke to Friday taught me to look at Attention Seeking Behavior as a bottomless cup that would always need to be filled. The suggested origins of attention seeking behavior implies that we teach, or reinforce the negative ways students learn to seek attention by responding, or reacting to it and ignoring, or seeking not to disturb the child who is behaving appropriately. More attention is given to the student who misbehaves than the student who cooperates. The legitimate need of the attention seeking behavior is the desire to be recognized, noticed or acknowledged. The silver lining is the reality that this student has a sincere genuine like for you as the classroom teacher and as a person. This student willingly complies and follows your lead, because they like you and seek your approval, or attention, or the attention/approval of their classmates. Understanding the legitimate need and the silver lining this should cause me to reflect upon how I can teach my students to seek attention in positive ways and learn to catch them being good to reinforce the legitimate need and teach them how to demonstrate self-efficacy in managing the attention seeking behavior in a way that helps them achieve the greater need of feeling capable, connected and contributing within my classroom.
One way I have learned to accomplish this is by posting names on the board of students who cooperate and demonstrate being on task. Every time students in my classroom see someone going up to put their name on the board I get extra production from those who normally would talk and socialize, because they want that positive recognition and the reward (treat) that comes with the reward of the recognition. Catch them being good! I am now seeing students who would normally misbehave to get attention focus longer on their work and seek my attention by calling my attention to the fact that they are on task. The positive recognition is now reinforcing to them and rewarding them to be consistent even without receiving the treat. The greater reward of how they feel from the positive recognition fills them and I am learning it also motivates them to repeat the behavior to maintain the positive climate now being established in the classroom through positive recognition and the results of being productive and positive in their conduct.
May God help you and bless you to identify your attention seekers and employ effective strategies that empower them to a greater level of self-efficacy in managing their own behavior to allow you to teach, influence and inspire learning.