Prevention Trumps Reaction in the Classroom

prevention Prevention. We hear it often.  There is a  Prevention magazine. In medicine, preventative care keeps people from getting certain diseases, or at least knowing about them often sooner than they otherwise would so they can be treated. Smokey the Bear teaches people about how they can prevent wildfires. At last count, there were 210,000,000 results for the word prevention on Google. Prevention is everywhere. And it can be quite beneficial in the classroom.

A great tradition at our school is Senior Walk. On the last day of school for seniors, there is a senior breakfast. This is a time for the class to come together one final time before saying farewell to their high school careers. Following the breakfast, the seniors dress in their caps and gowns, and parade one lap through the school to say their goodbyes to other students and staff. All of the 9-11th graders and teachers line the halls and applaud and cheer them as they pass by. It is both an exciting and emotional time.

This year, the walk occurred during a freshman majority class period. As a result, almost all students in this  class had never experienced this event. I wanted all of the students in the class to get to experience this tradition and not have to return to the classroom due to undesirable behaviors. So, I took the route of prevention. On the Smartboard, I created a T-Chart. One side was labeled “Positive Behaviors During Senior Walk” and the other “Negative Behaviors During Senior Walk.”  I gave an example for each category that were pretty outrageous, but it was a hook for the students. And I got a lot of laughs out the examples. Soon, ideas started flowing. Kids were contributing their own. Questions came out of the discussion. A couple of students raised their hands to ask if a certain behavior would be allowed. I didn’t even have to answer. Their classmates answered for them! And it only took five minutes. Once we finished, I reminded students that if there were any issues, they would have to return to the class, and would miss out on the walk.

A few minutes passed and the P.A. announcement came on. We all headed out to the hallways. I am happy to report that all students got to experience this tradition, and none had to return to the classroom. It was a great farewell to our seniors.

Often as high school teachers, we make assumptions about certain behaviors. We think, “They know how to behave, we don’t need to review that.” While this can be the case for many students, not all students have been taught the same expectations, for no fault of their own. Had I not taken a few minutes to use prevention and review my expectations, I can almost guarantee that I would have had to react, and one or more students and I would have returned to the classroom and missed out on the opportunity to experience this senior tradition. Consider in the future, when you introduce a new concept or experience to your students, that could trigger undesirable behavior,  take just a few minutes to review what your expectations are, and let classmates help each other. “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” ~Benjamin Franklin

Resources for behavior management that we have integrated into our program:

CHAMPs and Discipline in the Secondary Classroom

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4 thoughts on “Prevention Trumps Reaction in the Classroom

  1. Pingback: Prevention Trumps Reaction In The Classroom | Engaging Students

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