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Modeling Positive Behavior in the Classroom

Found In: teaching strategies

Teachers are role models for their students all day, every day, so I take my actions and behavior very seriously. Modeling positive behavior— and discussing it with my students— helps me create a positive environment where students feel safe and cared for and where they can develop behavioral skills they will use the rest of their lives. Here are three ways I do that.

Show Respect

I model respect to my students by listening to them and showing them that I care about things that are important to them. I apologize when I’ve forgotten to do something I said I’d do, when I lose my temper, or when I make a mistake. I also encourage respectful behavior through classroom discussions about how to show respect to others and what behaviors are disrespectful. And I praise students when they show respect.

Think Out Loud

To demonstrate how to think through a problem, I think out loud. It’s the same technique whether you’re demonstrating the solution to a math problem—where you tell students your thought processes as you’re solving the problem—or you’re talking about an everyday dilemma you’re facing.

Sometimes, I ask students to help me come up with a lesson idea. I tell them the goal and ask them to think about possible ways to accomplish it. Next, I ask them to think about the pros and cons of the ideas. We’re all thinking out loud. And then, we decide the best way and begin the work.



Show My Human Side

To show students that their skills and interests, as well as academics, are valued, I ask them about different aspects of their lives. In turn, I share stories about my triathlons, cats, and writing. When teachers talk about their lives outside of school, it’s an opportunity to model talking in positive ways about oneself. Such stories and conversations can help students think and talk in positive ways about themselves.

Being a role model can be daunting—our students are observing us all the time—but it is also a wonderful opportunity to show students a positive way of looking at themselves. By showing respect, thinking out loud, and showing students my human side, I model behaviors I’d like to see in my students, and through classroom discussions, I give students an opportunity to learn and practice skills they will need in life.

Related Link

Powerful Role Models: Seven Ways to Make a Positive Impact on Children
Written for parents but also applicable for teachers. By Robyn Silverman.


About the Author

Sheila Kohl has taught 6th grade at West De Pere Middle School in De Pere, Wisconsin, for the past 14 years. She earned National Board Certification as a Generalist-Middle Childhood, and she currently works with candidates around the state of Wisconsin.



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