Behavioral Psychology Empowers Change In Learning Environments

Behavioral Psychology can help teachers, administrators and students do better in schools and colleges. I think every teacher can become a Master Teacher and every student can be an Expert Learner. It’s not easy being any kind of teacher, of course and it often isn’t easy being a student. And if the job description of a master teacher was honestly written, it would probably run something like this:

• Counselor
• Leader
• Aunt/Uncle/Mom/Dad
• Helper
• Motivator
• Mentor
• Inspirer
• Humorist
• Disciplinarian
• Cheer Leader…
….and the list goes on.

But only two types of teachers are remembered by students: The “good” ones and the “bad” ones. The “bad” ones stand out more – unfortunately – simply because most teachers aren’t bad. And the bad ones really are such stinkers, they can give the entire profession a black eye.  And not just bad teachers, either – bad principals, bad guidance counselors, bad secretaries , and yes, some really bad actors who are students, too.

Really, the truth about schools is that they can be a like a garden patch – full of weeds, not wonderful flowers and sometimes not very well tended and cared for. And it isn’t always a teacher’s fault – despite what the media and politicians often like to claim. The learning environment, the physical plant, the administration of the schools, the school committee – all these have an effect on teachers and students.

Truth is…Kids are learning machines – they can and will learn without teachers…and parents…and psychologists, too. But what they will learn, on their own, without guidance or feedback or other helpful assistance from experienced guides, mentors and elders – won’t be much good to them. And it may not be any good to anyone at all.

And here’s the shocking secret: Teachers really can’t “teach” anything to someone who does not want to learn.

That’s right: Teachers can’t teach. Rather, It is up to the learner to want to learn. All teachers can do is either enhance and facilitate a learner’s desire, ability and opportunity to learn or else they can impede it, stop it or make it more difficult for a learner to learn. That’s a powerful position to have in a child’s life.

A “bad” teacher is just a person who makes it hard for a learner to learn. And there are LOTS of bad teachers out there – in pre-school, kindergarten, elementary middle, high school, college, graduate school – even in teachers’ colleges!

Because surprisingly enough, it’s just as easy to be a good teacher, a really good teacher, or even a master teacher, as it is to be a bad teacher.  Some ways that we help schools and teachers can inspire learning involve:

• Helping staff to be happy and well in a stressful environment
• Reducing test anxiety to improve test performance
• Understanding and using Neuropsychological test results to improve classroom performance.

Teacher Burnout Can Equal Student Drop Out

While it may be true that every school is “different” and every student is also different, it is also true that schools, students and teachers all have the same problems.

Although the problems are the same, the context of the problems are different. For example, nearly every school has a bullying problem, but the types of bullying are different and go from mild to deadly.

And burned-out, unmotivated teachers? Check – every school system has them.

Unmotivated administrators? Crabby secretaries and assistants? Check – every school has them,  too. Angry, unmotivated students and nasty parents? Yes, you will find them at schools also. Schools are like a petri dish of human behavior.

What’s more – this isn’t new! Teachers and administrators had to deal with the SAME PROBLEMS when they were in school! The adults acting this way now were kids back then…why are they repeating the same unhelpful, rude and sometimes dangerous behavior they, themselves, received from lazy, bad and unmotivated adults when they were students? And if school wasn’t bad enough, of course, there is always the bus ride alone to make some kids want to avoid school.

Well, psychology explains all this. By learning more about how to deal with people and problems, we become stronger, more resilient and better able to cope with the stupid and crazy things that can happen as we go through school, grow up, go to college and get our first job…which actually, is a lot like going back to high school, or maybe more like middle school. To learn more about how Cognitive Behavioral Psychology can improve teaching, teachers and school performance, please see a sampling of our Teacher Development Programs offered here.

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