As the holiday season approaches, it is very common to see students acting up and misbehaving on a more frequent and more severe basis. Though many of us view the holidays as a joyful time shared with loved ones, for many of our students it can be a time of chaos and stress. This can be caused by memories surrounding holidays, realities of what more time at home actually looks like, or simply the breaking-up of a schedule that they have become comfortable with over the last couple of months.
Regardless of the root cause,
it is important for educators to recognize these behaviors as a response to stress, rather than purposeful and pre-meditated behavior. Behind most of this misbehavior is a desire for students to re-gain power and control, as they enter into a season where they have very little power or control over what is happening.
In our programs, we have found that giving students small opportunities to re-gain power can go a long way in limiting these misbehaviors. This can include giving students certain jobs or duties in the classroom or school. Students can also feel a greater sense of control by giving them choices. Instead of demanding that they have only one option, give them choices between assignments, or even between how you schedule your class. You are not changing the overall expectations for them, or the standards that you are meeting, you are just giving the students a sense of power in navigating what will come next. With this power will come a sense of safety, and this sense of safety will likely limit the incidence of misbehavior in the classroom.
Josh MacNeill, Director of NeuroLogic Initiatives