Teacher Behavior: Key to Enhancing the Learning Environment

Teacher Behavior: Key
to Enhancing the
Learning Environment
Michelle Marchant, Darlene Anderson, Michele Thompson
Brigham Young University and Nebo School District
Share key concerns
regarding student
behavior in your
classroom and school.
Think – Pair – Share
Scenario A Case 2
Scenario A Case 1
 Student: Sam
 Age: 14.2
 Grade: 8th
 Scenario:
Sam is an eighth grader who is not finishing his work due to his
off-task behaviors. According to his records, this has been an
ongoing problem since third grade. His grades have become
progressively worse this year. His academic grade in his social
studies class (and in most of his other classes) is at 65% because
assignments are rarely completed or are done haphazardly. When
Sam does start an assignment, he often rushes through it, making a
number of errors and overlooking information. His teacher reports
the following types of off-task behaviors; reading books and
magazines, drawing and doodling, daydreaming, and talking to
friends and neighbors. These behaviors occur most often during
independent work times and rarely during large group or whole
class activities, Sam’s social studies teacher believes he is capable
of doing grade-level work and has decided that Sam will achieve
the following goals within six weeks:
1. Increase the number of independent assignments completed.
2. Earn 80% or higher on all completed assignments.
 Student: Heather
 Age: 8.1
 Grade: 3rd
Heather is a third grader in Ms. Reyes’ classroom of 24
students. Heather enjoys school and often arrives early so she
can spend time on the playground with her friends. Ms. Reyes,
however, is concerned because Heather is disrupting the class.
She reports that Heather calls out answers during lessons,
speaks over others during class discussion, and talks to
neighbors during group and independent work. For 25 minutes
each day, Heather and two peers receive resource room support
in math. Heather’s resource room teacher has not noticed any
of these behaviors. Ms. Reyes decides to set these goals for
Heather for the next nine weeks:
1. Raise her hand and wait to be called before speaking.
2. Decrease interruptions and wait for others to finish before
adding to discussions.
3. Complete independent work quietly.
Effective Practices: Developing a Positive
and Engaging Classroom Climate
 Improving student achievement is a national concern. Teacher
quality is directly related to effective learning environments where
students are more likely to achieve (NCLB, 2001; Sutherland, Wehby
& Yoder. 2002; Chalk & Bizo, 2004).
 Positive and Engaging Classroom Climate. The ultimate act of
prevention: Teaching behavior along with academic content
(Algozzine, Wang & Violette).
 Effective Teacher Practices. Effective classroom management is
preventative rather than reactive (Emmer & Stough, 2001).
Effective Practices: Developing a Positive
and Engaging Classroom Climate
 Effective Teacher Practices. Student outcomes improve when
teachers take a positive, proactive approach to managing problem
behavior (Tillery, Varjas, Meyers, & Collins, 2010).
 SWPBS – The primary prevention tier involves teaching, monitoring,
and acknowledging behavioral expectations for all children and
implementing evidence-based practices (Horner et al., 2009).
 Behavior-specific praise is considered an effective teacher skill to
increase student engagement in academic and socially appropriate
behavior (Beaman & Wheldall, 2000; Brophy, 1981; Cherne, 2009;
Sutherland, Wehby & Copeland, 2000; Sugai, 2007).
Given the current emphasis on
improving outcomes for all
students, it is imperative that
educators receive access to methods
and training materials appropriate
to a wide range of student needs.
Over Arching Principles
Assess and Establish a Positive Learning
Include a Positive Teaching Approach
Implement Praise
Over Arching Principles
 Assess and Establish a
Positive Learning
 Include a Positive
Teaching Approach
 Implement Praise
Assess and Establish a Positive
Learning Environment
Children are more likely to trust
teachers when they model
responsible behaviors and provide
students with opportunities to
receive positive reinforcement for
engaging in desired behavior.
Positive Learning Environment
 Relationship bank
 Positive vs. negative interactions
 Body Language
 Non-contingent attention
 High expectations & routines
Relationship Bank
Positive vs. Negative Interactions
Adult ‘withdrawals’
are more powerful
Deposits >
positives : negatives
Balance feedback with
Video clip of Dean Young here
Adult Behaviors
Judged by Young People as:
Calm, pleasant voice tone
Overt displays of anger
Offers to help
Accusing/blaming statements
Compliments on their performance
Giving no opportunities to speak
Mean insulting remarks
Unpleasant physical contact
Lack of fairness
Bossy, demanding
Explaining why, how, or what
Getting right to the point
Giving specific examples
Talking only about mistakes
Pleasant facial expression
No eye contact
Stating expectations
Adapted from Willner, et al. (1977)
Over Arching Principles
 Assess and Establish
a Positive Learning
 Include a Positive
Teaching Approach
 Implement Praise
Use a Positive Teaching Approach
To teach appropriate
To stop inappropriate
behavior by inflicting pain
(physical, mental or
Focus in time
Future correct behavior;
long term
Past incorrect behavior; short
Attitude of adult
Love and concern for the
individual’s success and
happiness; the adult feels
calm and relaxed
Hostility and frustration
toward the individual; the
adult feels physical tension,
stress, and avenged
Resulting emotions in
Positive self image, self
worth, value, self
confidence, reciprocates
love and concern
Fear, guilt, stupidity, anger,
inferiority, lack of confidence
in self, reciprocities, hostility
and contempt
Video clip of Dean Young here
Over Arching Principles
 Assess and Establish a
Positive Learning
 Include a Positive
Teaching Approach
 Implement Praise
What is Praise?
Praise is…
 Reinforcement
 Specific
 Descriptive
 Accurate
 Sincere
 Contingent
 Age appropriate
 Relationship building
Praise is not…
 a compliment
 a statement with an
accompanying ‘zinger’
 insincere comments made
out of duty
3 Types of Praise
 GENERAL: simple, not specific
 EFFECTIVE: specific, sincere, immediate, and
contingent upon something a child has done or an
effort he has made
 INSTRUCTIVE: praise that teaches, includes the
components of effective praise along with a
 Thanks for putting your coat
away so quickly.
 I appreciate the way you
shared your cookies with
 Nice shoes.
 You look great today.
 You are a good boy.
 Wow! Look at the way you
painted that picture. It looks
Development Strategies
for Teachers: Preservice and In-service
Instructor Materials and
Music of the
Secret of the
Peaceful Warrior
(Millman, 1991)
October Sky
You Can Do
Professional Articles
IRIS Center
CHAMPS: A Proactive
and Positive Approach to
Classroom Management
(Sprick, Garrison, &
Howard, 1998)
The Therapeutic Power
of Kindness (Long,
Loves You, Mr.
Hatch (Spinelli,
Case Study:
Building Positive
Relationships and Social
Skills: A Nurturing
Pedagogy Approach
(Young & West, 2008)
Five Reasons to Stop
Saying, “Good Job.”
(Kohn, 2001)
In-Class Activities
Class Activity
View and discuss video clips.
Prior to class discussion, candidates view a clip from October
Sky that demonstrates the value of building strong, positive
relationships with students.
Read children’s literature prior to discussing principles
In small groups, candidates read The Secret of the Peaceful
associated with course content.
Warrior. Small and large group discussions ensue, with a focus
on mentoring and establishing high expectations.
View and discuss scenarios illustrating effective classroom set-
Candidates problem solve ways to arrange their classrooms to
up from the IRIS Center website.
support learning and increase appropriate behavior.
Produce hypothetical and real-life situations in which student
Candidates identify a student with whom they would like to
teacher relationships are likely to be strengthened.
build a more positive relationship, given the student’s
personality and interests, listing activities they could engage in
with the student and the time involved.
Engage in a journaling activity, recording insights gleaned from
Teacher candidates reflect on behavioral methods and strategies
past experiences and in relation to one’s future classroom.
they would like to use in their future classrooms. Ways to attend
to the multi-cultural needs of the school’s population are among
the topics addressed.
Praise Note Assignment and
In-School Application
 Identify 1 or 2
 Write 10 praise notes
 Create written
 Share observed changes
 Reference readings
 Indicate future use
Example Praise Note
I was actually very excited about this assignment because I know
the power of these notes…Whenever a [praise] note is given in
my class, all of my students try just a little harder . . . I have
already discovered that giving students praise notes helps me have
a better attitude toward them . . . Giving [a student] five notes
within two weeks really helped me notice more of his strengths
instead of focusing on those things that bothered me. He, in turn,
liked all of the positive attention he was receiving from me and
worked very hard in class each day.
Lora video clip here
I was . . . impressed that something as simple as writing a praise note
[would impact [student] behavior and class work… I must admit I had
never seen Joe work so hard in my class before. Joe still had talk outs,
but they were fewer. He would still make jokes, but . . . was less
disruptive. On Friday…the office called to say he was being checked
out of school early. As he was putting away his belongings, he pushed
the pad of yellow [post-it] notes [in] my direction and smiled at me. I
wrote him [a] praise note which he stuck to his shirt . . . I have learned .
. . how important it is to fill the relationship bank with all kinds of
deposits. I have also learned that this bank takes currency in the form
of verbal praise, kindness, trust, understanding, and [written] praise
notes. Because of this experience and what I have learned from it, I will
continue to write praise notes to my students.
Sheila video clip here
[Kelly] was a little socially awkward and not . . . as
accepted by her classmates as others. . . [One] day . . . I
wrote [her] a [praise] note . . . She . . . ran over to her
mom and (happily] showed her the note. Her mom
[simply] smiled . . . [However] the biggest change has
been in me. This assignment helped me to appreciate . . .
Kelly . . . I hope that in some way the notes have helped
[her] . . . I know this assignment has helped me.
Kathy video clip here
Multi-tiered Training
Tier 1: School-wide faculty training on the
use of BSP
Tier 2: Video self-monitoring
Tier 3: Coaching
Outcomes of
Figure 1. Effects of multi-tiered interventions on BSP rates
Social Validity
 6-point Likert scale
 Strongly agreed on the following:
 Increasing BSP is an effective intervention
 Collaborative coaching is an effective tool to improve
teacher behavior
Contact Information
 Darlene Anderson
 [email protected]
 Michelle Marchant
 [email protected]
 Michele Thompson
 [email protected]
 Marchant, M., & Anderson, D. (2012). Improving social and
academic outcomes for all learners through the use of teacher
praise. Beyond Behavior, 21 (3), 22-28.
 Thompson, M. T., Marchant, M., Anderson, D., Prater, M., &
Gibb, G. (2012). Effects of tiered training on general educators’
use of specific praise, Education and Treatment of Children, 35 (4),

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