Responding to Minor Problems

    If all aspects of classroom management are being implemented, there should be less of an opportunity for students to engage in inappropriate behavior.  However, it is estimated that when students do engage in inappropriate behavior, the majority of the behaviors are minor.  In fact, Savage & Savage (2010) stated that 80% of misbehavior is merely students talking out of turn.  Therefore, it is important that teachers understand how to respond to minor problems in a way that aligns with the definition of discipline.

    All misbehavior, regardless of the infraction, needs a teacher response. Reason being, each misbehavior creates a learning opportunity and a chance for the student to develop self-control and the acceptance of responsibility.  To make this possible, teachers need to create safe classroom environments that communicate to students that they can learn from their mistakes.  Below are some tips to consider when communicating with students regarding their behavior.  It is important to keep these tips in mind because one of the largest contributors to behavior problems is a breakdown in communication (Savage & Savage, 2010).


"When misbehavior is minor, the best responses are those that are low profile and noncoercive," (Savage & Savage, 2010, p. 157).

    Low-profile responses are the best choice of response because they align with the goal of helping students accept responsibility and develop self-control.  They are easy to use, preserve the dignity of the student, and help prevent power struggles.  Because they give students the opportunity to correct their own behavior and practice self-control, they should be a teacher's first response.  Teachers should begin with low-profile nonverbal responses (90% of discipline is body language) then proceed to low-profile verbal responses if necessary (Savage & Savage, 2010).  Hopefully, students will utilize the opportunity to self-correct and more intrusive responses will not be necessary.

Why Dealing with Minor Problems is a Big Deal

     Proverbs 22:6 says, "Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it." 
The most important aspect of responding to minor misbehavior is giving students the opportunity to accept responsibility and develop self-control.  Teachers must understand that we must help students develop self-control because it is not innate.  Naturally, students will be impulsive.  However, Proverbs speaks of training children for their future.  If we want a future generation of respectable adults and contributing citizens, we must train them in school.  As a future teacher, I understand that both social and academic goals are present in the classroom.  If I make acceptance of responsibility and the development of self-control as important as academic goals, the outcome will be well-rounded students and future citizens.  Therefore, I will respond to misbehavior with a supportive communication style and low-profile responses.  For example, if a student is talking out of turn, I will use a gesture to indicate to him or her that they need to stop.  If this does not work, I will use his or her name in the lesson, signaling his or her attention and giving him or her the opportunity to change behavior.