anger, assumptions, behavior, being a teacher, classroom expectations, classroom setup, noncompliance, students

Are We Forcing Students to be Noncompliant?

Noncompliance; just the word makes me shudder.  So many connotations, so much negativity connected to this word, particularly in a classroom setting and yet you hear it whispered in the hallways, “noncompliance…”  This word means:  The failure or refusal to comply, meaning someone who is not following directions whether intentional or not.  It is a mantra that we repeat, we must have students that comply in order to be successful.  Without compliance our classrooms would simply fall apart.  

Think about your day; you expect certain things out of the students for the classroom to work.  Perhaps these expectations are simple such as signing in, getting to work, hanging your backpack, and handing in your homework.  Or perhaps these expectations are ones that have been taught, such as raising your hand, not interrupting, working hard and trying your best.  Whatever your expectations, sometimes there are kids that do not comply.  I once had a student that didn’t comply, it was a tough year, everything was a battle.  And yet, it was not because of a refusal to do so, he simply failed in the act of complying.  He had too many demons to battle that there simply was not enough life energy left over to focus on all of my expectations and demands.   So he was, indeed, noncompliant.  

Think about the heaviness that comes with that word, though, when we label our students.  Is it really because they are truly refusing or is it because of failure in communications or expectations?  Perhaps a child becomes noncompliant because we set up perimeters in which they cannot succeed.  Think of the child that fiddles, that child will not perform as expected if we set them up with nothing to fiddle with.  Or the child that learns kinestethically rather than orally; if we continue to just talk rather than do, they might also not conform or do what we expect.

So when you set up your classroom expectations, think about what you are asking every student to do.  Does every rule need to apply to ever student?  How many rules or expectations does there really need to be?  Don’t forget about your hidden assumptions that you have to communicate as well.  What in your learning environment can you change to to give the biggest percent of kids a chance to be compliant?  We often assume that students defy us on purpose, rather than figuring out the reason.  And yet, sometimes the real reasons for students behavior may be something we would have never guessed.  Instead of battling later, don’t set your room up for battle instead set up your room for freedom so that students may have choices.  Offer them an opportunity to be successful, to be compliant, to want to learn, after all, most ids do really like school.  Let’s not take that away from them.

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