Inside the School Discusses Keys to Handling the Rollercoaster of Correcting Bad Behavior

Madison, WI, February 06, 2010 --( Allen Mendler, Ph.D, educator and school psychologist believes students truly do want to learn; it's just tapping into their desire to do so.

Inside the School's online seminar, Discipline with Dignity he reviewed strategies and techniques educators can use to motivate students to stop acting out and start shaping up - while maintaining dignity and control.

“We all know there are always voices that compete for the hearts, minds and souls of our kids," Mendler said. "If our voice doesn’t capture their spirit, we worry about some other voice from a drug dealer or some other less-savory organization."

Mendler explained most behavior has a root cause outside of the school. It's how educators maximize the 10, 20 or 30 percent of influence they have.

Mendler’s five key attitudes and beliefs for success are: 1) Staying optimistic and persistent. 2) Understanding change is like a rollercoaster ride. 3) Defining fairness. 4) Using conventional and unconventional strategies. 5) Strategies should be connected to three basic needs.

Mendler said, "It's critical to stay optimistic and be persistent. You have to believe your efforts are going to make a difference with a difficult student."

One of the techniques he suggests is to pretend like each day is the first day of the school year.

"You are the most motivated at the beginning of a new year," he said.
Knowing and understanding change is a rollercoaster ride. As students behave better and improve they will go back to bad behavior from time to time. It is a common phenomenon with behavior change.

Mendler challenged the listeners to think of things they have changed in themselves over the past year or two. He pointed out that the change was most likely not easy but rather very difficult.

"Anyone can be successful at the first hour or first day of a new weight loss program." Mendler said, "But can they keep it up for a month or an entire year? This is the type of challenge that the student is experiencing in changing their behavior. Be Patient."

Teachers should be fair to every student, not just the challenging ones, Mendler said. He recommended letting the students know upfront everyday you’re going to be fair with them.

If a student thinks you are being unfair and says, "Sally got this punishment and I got this.” Ask them, "If you received Sally's punishment are you telling me that you will stop that behavior?"

Student behavior also improves when a student has a personal connection with an adult. This connection asks students, "Am I important to someone? Do I belong?"

Students who do not feel welcomed will act out to seek attention. It's important to understand that feeling welcomed is often a driving force in kids who seek attention. In Discipline with Dignity, Mendler explained solutions to the connection problem that involve every day techniques that will end this behavior.

"Students act out to mask their inadequacies," he said. "Set kids up for success. Give them opportunities to be good at things. Let them know when they will be called on or give them incentives to excel at their homework."

Inside The School
Joe Blewett
(608) 227-8117