Teachers learn new ways of handling misbehavior

William Thompson

Around 60 high school and middle school teachers met at the Tucumcari Convention Center Friday to learn more effective ways to handle misbehavior on the part of students.

The day-long workshop was presented by Rick Dahlgren, founder of The Center for Teaching Effectiveness. Dahlgren said the goal of his workshop was to show teachers ways to move through daily curriculum while maintaining high standards with regard to student behavior.

“Really, the whole goal of the workshops I present is to show teachers how to avoid having to use strict forms of discipline,” said Dahlgren. “We talk about treating students with dignity,”

Bobbi Lumpkin, a seventh grade math teacher at Tucumcari Middle School, agreed with Dahlgren’s basic philosophy.
“You have to treat students with dignity,” said Lumpkin. “You have to show them their dignity first, if you want to get their cooperation and respect.”

Simon Gutierrez, a student-teacher at Tucumcari High School, said the main technique he learned at the workshop was “refocusing.”

“The aim of the technique is to get the student to “refocus” on their negative behavior,” said Gutierrez. “If a student disrupts the class, the teacher sends him to another teacher for a kind of “time-out” session.”

Taya Davis, a Tucumcari Middle School Special Education teacher, elaborated on the “time-out” session.
“During the time-out, the student writes down what misbehavior he or she is being punished for,” said Davis. “The student also describes why he or she misbehaved and how his or her behavior can be improved in the future.”
Suzy McKinney, a science teacher at Tucumcari Middle School, asked Dahlgren how to respond when a student grumbles about having to go to time-out or even refuses to go to time-out.
Dahlgren responded by saying that the student should be sent to time-out at the very first sign of negative behavior.
“You can’t let the student think that he or she can get away
with something negative two or three times,” said Dahlgren.
“At the first sign of trouble , you have to convince the student in a positive way that the “refocusing” will be good for him or her.”

Dahlgren gave one example of how to verbally respond to a recalcitrant student.

“Try saying something like, “I understand you don’t want to do this, but just go ahead and do it anyway, and then later we can talk about your feelings, and maybe we can then both understand each other better.”

Dahlgren said there is no “cut-and-dried” approach that works the same way every time for every student.

“The main thing is, you don’t want to get into a battle with your student,” said Dahlgren. “If a student senses a negative attitude on the teacher’s part, that student will really not hear all that the teacher is trying to say.”