We define behavior as the way where one acts or conducts oneself, especially towards others. It is often a response to a particular situation or stimulus. Behavior cannot be managed separately from learning and well-being.
The context usually has some influence over the behavior. There are reasons people behave the way they do. It is often helpful to consider the pay-off gained by challenging actions. For example:
- What needs does the behavior fulfill?
- What strong negative emotions are being removed in the short term by the human behavior ?
Why behaviors occur
It is a form of communication and it serves a purpose.
It is also a way of getting needs met.
The two most common needs are:
- To obtain–more time understanding, order, calm, peer or adult attention, a desired object or activity, or sensory stimulation
- To avoid–a stressor, a frustration, a difficult, boring or easy task, a physical demand, an activity the student doesn’t like, or a peer.
When analyzing why behaviors occur, consider:
- The developmental factors that might contribute to unwanted act–significant events that might have occurred previously in a child or young person’s life
- Ecological factors that can influence manners, such as home, peers, friends, neighborhood, school practices and climate, socioeconomic status, and the current point in time
- What may trigger the behavior–usual things outside the immediate environment.
The impact of teacher behavior
The way a teacher responds can affect the occurrence of the way of act.
- If we focus on the function (the why) of the behavior and meet the child’s need, the unwanted actions used to communicate that need will usually disappear.
- If we focus only on the behavior and try to minimize it, the action will recur because the need the way of act communicates will still not be met.
Recognize the importance of culture
Students’ behavior and learning are influenced by:
- language and culture – culturally responsive practices draw on students’ identities to enhance engagement and achievement
- the quality of the teacher-student relationship – caring relationships and classroom management are key aspects of culturally responsive practice.
Involving and working closely with when to develop useful strategies is critical, especially when supporting Māori students. Take an approach that:
- promotes collective ownership
- shared values
- recognizes of the authority of elders
- reinforces positive when values.
It is also important that teachers increase their awareness of the issues facing children and families from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds by developing cultural awareness, knowledge, and skills.
Peer relationships affect
The nature and quality of the young person’s peer relationships also play an important role in shaping behavior; peer influence is important during adolescence.
Fergusson, Boden & Hayne
The nature and quality of the school environment play an important role in shaping children’s act.
Schools that offer consistent, non-punitive and supportive environments reduce risks of conduct problems (Fergusson, Boden & Hayne, n.d).
When planning school wide approaches to manners, take into account:
- the importance of early intervention to address behavior patterns before they become consolidated and resistant to change
- the need to provide age appropriate management and follow-through
- the known co-occurrence of childhood conduct difficulties with other behavioral and academic difficulties, including ADHD, learning problems, mood and anxiety disorders, alcohol and substance abuse/dependence, and suicidality
The role of the adult response
Action as a form of expression is shaped, reduced or reinforced by what happens before and after it. A child or young person’s way of act is unlikely to change unless the adult way of act changes and the context around the act changes.
Improving motivation, engagement, and learning
When teachers get to know students and students feel teachers believe in them and have high expectations (Mana Motuhake), it can have a significant influence on student manners.
Sensitivity to difference
Having sensitivity to individual differences and experiences will also help teachers support students more effectively. For example:
- significant or traumatic events may have occurred in a child or young person’s life that have impacted the development
- ecological factors, such as home, peers, friends, neighborhood, school practices and climate, socioeconomic status
- learning differences or medical conditions.
It is critical for student safety and well-being that teachers use their knowledge of students to inform their practice.