Try meeting needs first to decrease misbehavior later.
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Valerie was an amazing middle school teacher. Students in her classes seemed to test her less than they tested the other teachers. Her kids didn’t pull her into as many power struggles and they experimented with fewer attention-seeking antics.
Valerie had a secret. She told a younger colleague, “Some of our students are great at getting their needs met, but not so great at getting those needs met appropriately. So, I always try to help them get their needs met in healthy ways before they try to get them met in not-so-healthy ways.”
She was known for noticing little things about kids when they weren’t acting out or seeking attention. For some reason, students just seemed to seek that attention much less when in her room. She would say things like, “I noticed that you’re getting taller” or “I noticed that you like to draw” – especially when kids were not asking or expecting to be noticed.
She was also famous for offering lots of small choices before kids resisted or did much protesting. As a result of feeling lots of healthy control, her students seemed to fight less for inappropriate power. She would give options like “You can do this in pen or pencil” or “You can pick either of these two subjects to write about.”
Parents and other educators were amazed at how much misbehavior never even got started in Valerie’s classes. They even joked that she must be bribing the kids to behave. It was almost as if the students’ needs being met prevented them from feeling the urge to get those needs met in other ways.
Some of the greatest teachers we know put so much effort into prevention, they almost never have to mess with things like detention.
We encourage you to have fun with meeting needs ahead of misbehavior and see if some of those annoying behaviors decrease.
Jim Fay - BiographyThanks for reading! Our goal is to help as many families as possible. If this is a benefit, forward it to a friend.
Jedd Hafer


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