“A successful man is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks others have thrown at him.”
– David Brinkley
Both power and revenge behavior are difficult behaviors to manage, because it stimulates intense emotions within the classroom teacher that, if mishandled, could create extreme outcomes difficult to recover from for either the student, teacher or both. Passive demonstrations of revenge behavior can be withdrawal, uncommunicative, sullen and remote. Active revenge behavior is displayed through direct or indirect physical attack (destruction of property), or psychological attack (verbal or indirect physical attack).
The way we identify revenge behavior in the classroom is by our emotional pressure gauge, our reaction and the student’s reaction, as with power and attention-seeking behavior. With attention the emotional pressure gauge is MILD. With power behavior the gauge is reading HOT. With revenge behavior, the emotional pressure gauge reads BOILING. With attention we felt annoyed, irritated and with power we felt angry and frustrated. With revenge add hurt to angry and frustrated, because the behavior being demonstrated by the student is being directed at you.
When it’s attention, the student will stop temporarily. When its power they stop on their terms. When its revenge behavior, the misbehavior will escalate before it stops. Our reaction and the manner we respond to the misconduct may escalate the behavior further or allow it to subside without immense collateral damage. Our usual reaction would lend itself to fighting back because we are feeling attacked by the misbehavior. Our attack, or reaction, can become verbal or expressions of threats in an effort to discourage the continuance of the misbehavior, but this will usually escalate the behavior, because revenge behavior escalates when the student feels threatened. Dr. Linda Albert, author of Cooperative Discipline, cites the heightened exposure to violence on television and in society that influences revenge behavior in the classroom.
Dr. Linda Albert’s suggestion that students usually don’t get to see hurt feelings or anger expressed in positive ways, challenges the classroom teacher to consider and accept the validity of the responsibility of having to teach our students how to demonstrate self-efficacy in managing themselves and their emotions. Along with the student’s legitimate need to feel safe and secure in their environment and the silver lining of recognizing the student’s effort to preserve (protect) themselves and displaying a spark of life by doing so, Cooperative Discipline encourages the classroom teacher to consider the principles of prevention: 1) build caring relationships, 2) teach appropriate expression of feelings and remaining objective in separating the deed from the doer when seeking to manage revenge behavior. If I embrace the reality that the classroom teacher has a dual responsibility in executing the delivery of the lesson along with managing the people within the classroom, including themselves, then the employment of supportive and preventive strategies become a necessity, along with corrective strategies.
For every corrective measure I take to hold a student accountable to demonstrating appropriate behavior, how often do I follow-up with supportive and preventive strategies to reinforce to the student progress is being made? I have discovered that students who begin to enjoy the classroom environment and the atmosphere developed by the hands-joined relationship established by the teacher and student will, more often, choose to manage themselves to keep the consistency of the atmosphere maintained. The more I become consistent in employing recognition and rewards, along with corrective strategies, to manage my classroom and maintain order, I become more of a facilitator than a drill sergeant. My stress level decreases and I am more in control of myself, more free to interact and engage with my students, and they with me, while the process of learning takes place.
May God bless you and help you to use wisdom, patience and love to progress, succeed and prosper in managing your classroom and maintaining order as you strive to teach, influence and inspire learning.