My sixth-grade teacher pulled me into the hall for a conversation. “I know you can do better than this. These pages are sloppy and this is not your best work,” she said.
The workbook pages she was referring to were not neat. I had filled them drawings, swirling figures, and doodles. The writing was not done carefully and the o’s and a’s had been colored in. I had been bored in class, as the reading lessons came easily to me, so I entertained myself with this designing. My teacher’s comments motivated me to do better and to take more pride in my work. She had noticed my poor work and cared enough to challenge me to do better.
Teachers must value motivation in classroom management, as it is important to students’ academic success. The teacher needs to be aware of motivation levels in students and make changes in instruction or the classroom as needed (Selig, 2010).
Teachers should present tasks in a way that builds enthusiasm by saying how the task will be useful, giving a vision of what the students will be able to do, relating it to skills they already know, and generating enthusiasm, especially for challenges (Sprick, 2006). High expectations and effective instruction let students see that they can be successful if they apply themselves (Sprick, 2006), which leads to motivation and positive behavior. The teacher needs to use engaging and meaningful learning activities to build motivation and higher-level thinking skills (Jones, 2011).
Feedback is important in behavior management. Teachers should monitor their feedback to ensure they are not always negative or critical of children with behavior challenges. The child should not be receiving the teacher’s attention and help only when he is off-task or breaking a rule. Studies have found that children with challenging behaviors received four times as many negative interactions with teachers as they did positive interactions (Cicantelli, 2011).
Feedback should inform students of what they are doing that is appropriate and helpful in learning or relationships. Teachers must support appropriate behavior rather than reacting to inappropriate behavior. Students may need explicit instruction in positive behavior and guidance in how to meet their own needs without jeopardizing the needs of others. Giving concrete and specific feedback to students will help, as teachers may show a child when he behaved inappropriately, explain what he should have done, and help him speak or act appropriately.
I told a student, “You need to behave!” and then realized this student was still learning English and did not know what “behave” meant. I realize now that telling any student to behave is not good feedback. I must make sure students know what action I am talking about. They may need my specific directions and guidance. I can model the behavior I want to see and we can practice the appropriate actions together.
Students need challenges, but they may become discouraged if they always face only challenges and continue to make mistakes. The teacher must give clear instruction and opportunities to practice. He may need to give more instruction and adjust lesson plans. Discouraged students may misbehave if they are not engaged. Students need prompt feedback so they know what they are doing correctly or what they are missing and can learn from their mistakes (Sprick, 2006). Feedback should be given in a variety of ways, and should be accurate, descriptive, and age-appropriate (Sprick, 2006).
As I remember the feedback of my sixth-grade teacher, I can gain lessons for myself as a teacher as I give feedback and motivation. One lesson is to be aware: notice student work, think about their motivation, and realize that the child can do better. It is important to remember to give admonition or correction privately, not in front of other students. Give correction in a helpful manner and acknowledge the capacity of the learner. Also, prepare challenges for bored students.
Cicantelli, L. & Vakil, S. (2011). Case study of the identification, assessment and early
intervention of executive function deficits. International Journal of Early Childhood
Special Education (3)1. Retrieved from
Jones, V. (2011). Understanding effective classroom management, chapter 1. Upper Saddle
River: Pearson. Retrieved from https://ptgmedia.pearsoncmg.com/images/9780137082117/
Selig, G., Arroyo, A., Jordan, H., Baggaley, K., & Hunter, E. (2010). Loving our differences for
teachers. Boston: Pearson Learning Solutions
Sprick, R. (2006). Discipline in the secondary classroom. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
CONTRIBUTOR: Arlene Birt