Question 107

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Questions:

I've got a student whose frequent behavior is slamming books on desks, disrupting other students, giving dirty looks, and calling me a dirty bitch—suggestions please?

I've got a student who is arrogant, constantly instigating problems, copies home work, cheats on tests, coerces others to get her way, and appears to have stolen money during a lab assignment

Answers:

I will answer both of your questions the same way. You tell me what the student does, but not what do you do--how do you handle it. Any form of punishment will only intensify the behavior. I don't know for sure whether the student or students of which you speak are behaving from the mistaken goal of power or revenge, but I do know they are discouraged students. Don't worry, I'm not advocating permissiveness.

In all of our books, we talk about understanding the belief behind the behavior. You will not have significant, positive results until you understand and deal with the belief. In other words, I advocate perception modification, not behavior modification.

All students want to belong and feel significant. I know they don't act that way sometimes. That is why we refer to mistaken goal behavior. They choose mistaken ways to achieve their goal--at a subconscious level.

"Positive Discipline in the Classroom" addresses this problem by using methods that help children feel belonging and significance so they don't have to misbehave. PDC also teaches problem-solving skills and other important life skills. We emphasize class meetings where students (and teachers) learn to see every problem as an opportunity for learning. Students learn to help each other solve problems through role playing and brainstorming. Not only does this minimize behavior problems, but motivation for learning is enhanced.

For more specific help with these particular problems you mentioned we have a book called "Positive Discipline: A Teacher's A-Z Guide." In this book we have covered every problem mentioned by hundreds of teachers (including the ones you mention) and provide suggestions on how to prevent future problems and examples. All of our suggestions are nonpunitive and teach life skills.

I hope you understand that I would have to rewrite much of the book to answer all of your questions specifically--which I could not do anyway without more information. Hopefully, the books are available in libraries, bookstores, or by calling 1-800-456-7770.