What Teachers Wish You Knew Part 2: Behaviors are Blocking Basic Learning

Photo by Xia Yang on Unsplash

This is part 2 of our multiple post series on what teachers wish you knew. Check out the explanation and the first part HERE.

Today, we’re talking about student behavior, and you might not want to hear it. But give me a minute. This is important.

Truth: student bad behavior is on the rise, while resources continue to fall.

When I was teaching, there was one serious behavior problem in every classroom.

That serious behavior problem could be either a constant vie for attention through yelling, swearing, breaking rules, being non-productive, or just trying to annoy other students. Or, it could be sudden bouts of rage, where the student would suddenly start throwing things and threatening children.

This was common place in 2013.

Now, in 2022, with the children having survived a pandemic and other issues, at home and otherwise, I understand the number of serious behavior problems is rising. (study)

Not only that, but resources are declining. There are fewer teachers who will to take on roles in behavior management, and there are not very many opportunities to do so, as the budget is more likely to be focused on testing, technology, and administration. Currently, there are about 4000 open positions in behavior management in schools around the United States. And with an average salary of $43,000, it’s easy to understand why they are standing open.

To have an idea of what an average child is going through in an average classroom, imagine that your cubicle-mate either gets in your cubicle space all day, talking loudly, stealing your pencils, and poking at you saying “hey, hey, hey, hey…” Or, … you have no idea when Bob in the next cubicle will flip his desk over and throw a stapler at your head.

That’s what your kid is dealing with, on either side of that cubicle equation. And remember, they don’t have cubicles.

These kids need help.

They are begging for help, and the system is not set up for them. Classroom numbers are growing, teachers are being asked to do more, testing is increasing, kids are tasked with more work, and that “problem” kid is being left behind while pulling the class down with him.

In many cases, it’s a real mental health issue, and it needs real mental health attention.

We are no stranger to violence in schools and the classroom. Our children’s mental health should be a priority. But many times, all of it is shoved aside or pushed through a crack, because of all the other pressures of modern education.

Your kid’s behavior does have to do with you.

We can’t simply cut off our kid when they go to school, like “oh she’s your problem now!” You have to take some level of accountability for your child’s behavior, whether that is teaching them about respect and manners, or going to the next level on finding help for a child that is struggling with mental and emotional health.

No, it’s not your fault, but yes, you can take into account your place in being helpful.

Many times, parents don’t know there is an issue, or they think the school is exaggerating. Please believe teachers and administrators, and please talk directly to your child. Ask specifics about their day, their friends, their activities, and their struggles.

It works to be open to listen to a child’s struggles, rather than facing off in a blame game or threatening a child. Remember, a child will go on the defense if he feels he has to defend himself. But if you’re open for discussion, you’re likely to get more of the story.

If your child is the victim of abuse or has a hostile child in their environment, it is also in your account to stand up for him or her. Your child deserves to feel safe and will not learn unless she feels safe. Get involved, ask questions, and see where you can help. The more adults that help, the easier the next stage will be in our children’s education.

I think everyone sees that we need to take a deeper look at behavior at school, to make better choices with solutions, and that education itself has some work to do in order to progress to where we are as a society. When schools were invented, they were designed to train children to be factory workers. Now, we expect them to be innovators for all kinds of areas, and our education system should reflect that.

We have a lot of areas to discuss.

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