A technology teacher at one of our workshops raised an ongoing issue he was having with students who don’t bring appropriate clothing to his subject. This is a safety concern as well as a behaviour issue – students cannot participate in the lesson without correct footwear.
This makes extra work for the teacher, taking him away from the rest of the class while he finds work for these students and manages their behaviour.
I thought it might be helpful to others if we deconstructed the problem and provided some possible solutions since my experience has been that behaviour issues often have a common thread.
In this situation there are two types of student issues:
- The sometime offenders who forget to bring their shoes and then refuse to wear the shoes the teacher provides
- The ongoing offenders who do not like the subject or do not see any value in the subject for them
Note: The teacher admitted that the shoes he provides are old, worn-out shoes left behind by other students.
For the sometime offenders:
1. Run a class meeting to discuss the problem and work on a solution. The teacher would outline the impact that this behaviour has on him and the students could voice how it affects them. Students and teacher could come up with possible solutions to the problem.
2. Implement a whole class incentive program to encourage students to bring their equipment and harness peer pressure. Have the students decide on the incentive and how it will be achieved.
3. Have the class decide on a series of consequences for students who forget e.g.
1st time: sit out of lesson
2nd time: clean up the cupboards in the classroom
3rd + times: letter home to parents, follow school processes
4. The school could purchase some new shoes to keep as backups for students who forget.
For the ‘ongoing’ offenders – the students who consistently ‘forget’ are another issue and require further investigation:
A. Meet with individual students to discuss why they are not bringing their equipment and how you can address their needs. Using questions such as “I have noticed that you are not bringing your shoes to class. How come?”
Keep the conversation non-threatening. You are being curious not accusatory.
Students may then feel comfortable to tell you why they don’t come prepared. If they find the subject boring or meaningless are there ways you could change this?
How could the teacher and student work together?
B. Work on building a relationship with the students and find out what they are interested in and relating it to the subject e.g. if they are into jewellery perhaps they could make a jewellery box or jewellery stand.
C. Design an individual Behaviour Contract with the student and their parents.
D. Decide on an individual reinforcement strategy.
E. Implement staged consequences: similar to the above worked out with the student.
F. A phone call home to parents.
Engaging students in the problem solving process assists them in developing essential life skills, accepting responsibility for their own behaviour and gives them voice and choice in their learning!