I made a mistake before I left Mr. Agajan's class yesterday. I don't think that I always do this. But, the mistake I made highlights something that I need to make sure that I do on a regular basis as far as recognizing student's behavior goes.
Art class was extremely difficult for Ms. Hall to control. According to her, the class was more difficult to control than usual. I mentioned this to Mr. Agajan. He suggested that I make an announcement to the class about it. He said that I was in a better position to comment on the behavior then he was since I was in the art class at the time and he was not.
So, right before I left, I made explicit that there were some students who were blurting out questions without raising their hands or talking were over Ms. Hall while she was reading her children's book on Picasso. I was about to leave it at that, but then Mr. Agajan jumped in before I was about to end. "Mr. Auto? Can you name some students who you thought did a good job in Ms. Hall's class?" That kind of caught me off guard. So, I just named a boy and girl student who I could vaguely recall did a good job. Then, I wished everyone a good weekend and went on my way.
In retrospect, I feel like a dork for almost leaving the classroom on a negative note. Why? Well, first, I'm pretty confident that it's not the case that everyone in Mr. Agajan's class was disruptive. Some students were disruptive, but other students were cooperative. Second, if I'm going to give examples of students who were disruptive so that they know how not to act, I should give them the other side of the coin. I need to highlight examples of what specific students did so that they can replicate those behaviors. Third, if I only give explicit recognition of disruptive behavior, it makes it seem pointless to do good behavior. So, it discourages those who are behaving in a cooperative way to continue doing so. Lastly, I'm just imagining how these students would feel about me if I always left them on a negative note. I'm just thinking about the worst case scenario and the most expedient way to get there. If I always left them on a negative note, they would hate my guts. Why? I would be known as the teacher that dislikes everything they do. It's not exactly a confidence builder. So, if always being negative would be the fastest way to get them to hate me, then doing it less will be that much slower of a way to get them to hate me. I don't think that means I must strictly always be positive, but it means that I must show that I'm aware of when students are disruptive and cooperative rather than just one or the other.
This is the bottom line. Whenever I show explicit recognition of students' disruptive behavior, I should also show some recognition of their cooperative behavior. On the flipside, whenever I show explicit recognition of their cooperative behavior, I do not necessarily need to show explicit recognition of disruptive behavior.