Monday, May 21, 2012

Exploring Causes and Effects of Behavior

photo of Behavior Reflections Form
This time of year is always a challenge when it comes to student behavior. Kids are tired, you are tired, and it's easy for little things to escalate into big problems. The Behavior Reflections form shown on the right might be just what you need!

Years ago when I received training in Thinking Maps, I was introduced to the Multi-flow Map for exploring causes and effects. All of a sudden, I had an "ah-ha" moment about how it could be used to improve student behavior. I realized that most students who were engaging in distracting behaviors had never thought about why they were behaving in a certain way or how their actions might affect others. So I created this Behavior Reflections graphic organizer as a way for students to reflect on their behavior and make better choices.

Here's how I introduced the graphic organizer to the whole class:
  1. We started by writing a short description of the undesirable behavior in the middle of the form. For example, "Repeatedly blurting out answers." 
  2. Then they tried to figure out the causes, or why someone might engage in that behavior. Those items were listed on the left. Answers might include, "I wanted the teacher to know that I knew the answer," "It's a bad habit," or "I got excited and wanted to tell my answer." Sometimes this step takes a bit of coaching because most kids have never really tried to figure out why they do the things they do. 
  3. In the three boxes on the right side, they wrote out the effects, or consequences of their behavior, including how their behavior affected others. They may never have realized that when they blurt out answers, they are depriving other students of the opportunity to think through a problem and answer on their own. 
  4. Finally, the student writes out a short plan for improvement which I have to approve before the paper goes home for a parent signature.
After I introduced the Behavior Reflections form to the class, I began having students complete it when they engaged in a distracting, annoying, or disrespectful behavior. I did not use this form for violent incidents or for serious infractions, and it never took precedence over established school polices. It was simply a tool to get kids to understand why they were behaving in a certain way and how their behaviors affected others.

The Behavior Reflections form turned out to be even more powerful than I had anticipated. Misbehaving students stopped seeing me as someone who would punish them arbitrarily for something they didn't think was wrong, and they began to accept more responsibility for their actions. Sometimes additional steps were needed such as short-term behavior contracts, but this form was a great place to start. As a side note, the folks at Thinking Maps liked my form so much that they asked permission to use it in their training materials as an example of how a Multi-flow Map could be used!

I hope that you find the Behavior Reflections form to be effective in your classroom, too. You can download it from my Creating a Caring Classroom Page on Teaching Resources. What strategies have you found to be effective to get students to reflect on their behavior and learn to make better choices?

5 comments:

  1. Fantastic behavior reflection. I like how it asks students for reasons - but also makes them own up to the results.

    Janet | expateducator.com

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  2. Had a student fill one out last week for a disruptive behavior. Under "Reasons for my Behavior", he answered "To make people laugh." At least he's honest.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks funny! But I agree that at least he was honest. His parents might not think it's funny though!

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  3. I plan to use this for one of my "BLURTERS". Thanks for this resource.

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