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Posted by Pamela Jones in Fair Is Not Equal on Oct 03, 2012

The Connection to Successful Behavioral Intervention

Engagement Several years ago, a teacher said to me, "What does engagement have to do with managing kids' behavior?" My answer to her was, "Everything!" While I am the first to admit that intervening successfully into our students' behavioral and socio-emotional lives is a multi-faceted process, we’d be remiss to overlook the pivotal role engagement plays.

My experience as a teacher and teacher-educator in the field reveals the following:  engagement and behavior are highly correlated. Just recently, in fact, I had the benefit to test out this theory. First, take a trip with me to the not-too-distant past.

Picture, if you will, a little boy during the first two weeks of school. Weeks ago, I saw him walking around the room, seemingly unable to sit during morning meeting and independent work time—lessons that involved a good deal of listening and prolonged sitting. When asked to sit and listen work, he repeatedly said (and showed) that his answer was a resounding, “No!” 

Fast-forward to this week when he and his classmates were engaged in two lessons that involved manipulatives, choice, and connections to their personal lives.  What do you think the difference was in his behavior this time? Although he was still apt to be more “mobile” and walk around the class, he not only completed his work but further, took an active part in each of these lessons—speaking up and contributing.

Though some might cite a few other influential factors, many of which I’d no doubt agree with, I’d be hard pressed to negate and invalidate the role that engagement played here. 

Our challenge to you, as teachers who are aiming to become increasingly effective at intervening in your students’ behavioral lives, is the following: to foreground the role that engagement plays in your classroom dynamic. Though it’s but one piece of the intervention puzzle, it’s a most important one to consider.



tagged behavior, engagement
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