First Steps

Building better behavior is not for sissies. It is not for the lazy. Teaching children with behavioral challenges is no longer just for those with degrees in Special Education and who have accepted jobs in classrooms for behaviorally disordered children. ALL classrooms have children with issues. There are no families that don’t have a need for behavioral interventions.

It is an important part of the role of caregiver, an imperative of building better humans that we MUST shape bevavioral outcomes, Each child will be different and will go through phases and stages where the need ebbs and wanes, but we need to stay a step ahead, vigilant for possible needs for guidance, shaping and sometimes intervention.

Prevention is the best possible path and still requires attentive vigilance. Failing to address issues or to communicate best responses is nothing short of giving permission to whatever behavior is being tested, whatever boundary is being stretched.

The most important first step is self-care. You need to be well-balanced. This means you need rest, good nutrition and healthy relationships for support. Mentors are a valuable resource. If you don’t have someone in your life that qualifies, watch for great role models and ask for their advice. Find someone who has been at it longer than you and seek their wisdom. It is good to get a variety of perspectives so you can weigh the pros and cons of their style and develop one that is best for you.

As a teacher, you will need to be fueled for the long haul. This is best with a healthy diet so your blood sugar isn’t on a roller coaster and your emotions are not paying a hefty price. For me, this also means clarity in addition to energy. This will also set the example for your students to properly fuel the vessel given them by God, and to maintain their well-being, emotionally as well as physically. Taking care of yourself also includes social outlets, finding creative outlets, and opportunities for fun!

Secondly, you will need everything you’ve got to be empowered and equipped for the task at hand. If you tend to fly by the seat of your pants and live on the edge you will come up woefully disadvantaged. When you stepped into the role of teacher, you agreed to rise to the occasion. You may not have considered the cost but there is one. The role of teacher includes more than anything, responsibility. To be responsible means standing in the gap of protections and guidance, being responsible to making better humans. If you were not provided with the example of others (parents, teachers, educational background) it is up to you to read, research and learn best practices. Building better humans is a responsibility for their behavior and for their character development, which is taught not caught. It requires intention.

Holly Cromer