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Field Notes for 2/27 Students Behavior ("Good days" vs. "Bad days")

jcb2013's picture

            Today I have decided to focus on behavior within my praxis.  There are a few students that I have mentioned in my past notes that I would like to focus on today.

  • First there is Emmal.  He recently returned from being involuntarily committed for behavior issues.  While committed he was diagnosed with ODD (Oppositional Defiance Disorder).  Academically, he often struggles with getting frustrated, and when this happens refuses to do his work.  Socially, he easily becomes angered when other students do things that he doesn’t like.  In the past he has been physical with his classmates when they have angered him.  He has then refused to apologized. 
    • Even with his behavior issues, I believe that he is a good child.   I believe that his actions are caused more by an inability to express himself, and because his home-life is not as positive as it should be.  I strongly believe that his intentions are not negative. 
    • He is still just like the other children in the class.  He wants positive attention, he is blunt in his expression of how he feels, and he often gives me hugs.
    • I have found that showing him positive affirmation for his efforts, and taking the time to work with him on the aspects of assignments/lessons that he is frustrated with are ways that help him to remain calm, and not get overwhelmed. 
  • This Tuesday I was very pleased with his behavior.  He put a lot of effort into his work, and raised his hand when he needed help.  He was good about expressing what he was struggling with, and responded well to my affirmations of his positive work ethic.  He completed all of his assignments and did not have any run-ins with fellow students. 
    • I think it’s important for him to start his school days off on the right foot.  This means that overcoming any negative attitudes he may come to school with (whether caused my moodiness or because of an interact he perceived as negative while at home).  It’s important to gauge where he is emotionally when he comes to school, so that we can address his needs for that particular day.
  • Another student who struggles with what the school considers behavioral issues is S.  I discussed him a bit last week in my field notes using the McEntee reflection method.  He struggles with a need for attention, and refuses to do work without me helping him with every step.  He often follows me around while I try to help other students as well, or will call from me across the room.  This becomes distracting to other students, and takes away from my ability to help other students.  This is what he gets in trouble for often.  
    • He is a very nice child, and never really causes problems directly with other students.  He very much wants positive attention, and likes to give hugs and hold my hand.  This seems to me that he wants people to constantly show him that they are interested in what he is doing, and that they care about what he is doing.  He constantly wants affirmation for what he’s doing, and without it he will not continue on his own.
      • To me it seems that he lacks confidence in himself, especially academically, therefore, he asks for help even when he does not need it to insure that he is doing it right (which will then bring him more positive affirmation).
    • This Tuesday I was really focused on getting him to attempt his work on his own, before I helped him with it.  Once they were given an assignment, I went over and asked him to explain to me what he was supposed to do.  Once he correctly told me the assignment, I asked him to write his name on the top of the page and to write his first sentence on his own.  Once he was finished with his first sentence I would come back and check it and help him with any questions that he had. 
      • I was very impressed with how well this worked.  When I returned after a few minutes I was met with all that I had asked for.  He had already thought of a second sentence and was asking me for help spelling some of the words.
      • I believe that this system worked because I rewarded his efforts, and the attempts that he made on his own.
    • S had a very good day on Tuesday.  The best that I had been there to witness.  He was not put at the time out table at all today, which is where he is often placed because of his continued calling out for help.  He was given green on his behavior sheet (meaning that he had behaved well that day).  At one point during the day when the rest of the class was not doing what they were supposed to Ms. Lowe asked the students what her instructions were.  The students raised their hands and told some of them, but none of them could tell her what her last instruction was.  S. then raised his hand and was able to tell the class the last instruction. 
      • This was a huge moment for S. as a student, and for me as a teacher.  S. often struggled with listening to and following directions because he is so distracted with getting himself help, and expects teachers to tell him how to do something.  So in answering this question S. was showing that he was not only listening today, but actively paying attention and thinking about what he had to do. 
      • As a teacher it was an exciting scene of progress, and maturation as a student.  Even if it was just a small step in his development as a student, it was still progress and made me feel that the time I had put into working with him was making a difference.  It was a small win that makes the frustrating moments worth it.
  • This Tuesday, both of these students who I often work with (and attempt to give individualized attention to) had the best days that I had witnessed/experienced.  It was a great moment as a student teacher, seeing the progress (even if just for a day) that students can make when you put the time in.  It was also interesting to see the differences in behavior from day to day as a class, and as individual students. Especially in a kindergarten classroom where emotions, home life, and the amount of sleep that students get, etc. can influence students differently from day to day.  
  • This leaves me with a few things to think about further:
    • How can we as teachers makes more days “good behavior” days by getting to know our students better and adjusting our teaching styles to their particular needs each day?
    • How can we as teachers manage outside aspects that may influence student’s behavior from day to day? Can we at all?
    • What is the role of positive affirmation and reinforcement in classrooms? Can there be too much? And is it fair to differ from student to student?