Preventing Bad Behavior Habits

Preventing Bad Behavior Habits

Things you will never hear a teacher say:

“Please write your spelling words ten times incorrectly.”
“Look away from the ball.”
“Place your fingers on the wrong keys, and practice your scales.”

Practicing a Skill Incorrectly Will Lead to Mistakes

Preventing Bad Behavior HabitsIt makes absolutely no sense to ask a student to practice doing a skill incorrectly.

In fact, when it comes to fundamental skills for academic success, we continually model best practices and give students many opportunities to practice getting it right, helping them develop the good habits we know will lead to success.

Practice Until You Get It Right

Once students know how to hold their pencils, their creative ideas can blossom in writing and drawing. Once they know how to hold a book, they can read for hours without strain. It’s all about learning how to use your tools correctly, and they way to do that is practice until you get it right.

Teachers Often Fail to Have Students Practice Behavior Skills

So why in the world do teachers fail to ask their students to practice the correct way to perform basic behavioral skills, such as how to ask a question in class, how and when to sharpen their pencils, how to treat a textbook, how to use their phone or tablet for academics, and so on? Aren’t they the same?

I have even seen teachers ask students to do behavioral skills incorrectly (“Who can show me the wrong way to sit in your seat?”) in an effort to help them discriminate between the correct and the incorrect way.

While I believe it is important for the teacher to show common mistakes and why they won’t work (both in academics and behavior), asking students to practice doing it wrong will result in confusion, and ultimately, in the student developing bad behavioral habits that will get in the way of their academic learning.

You would never ask a student to demonstrate how to solve for X incorrectly on the document camera! Don’t do it with behavior, either. Practice doesn’t make perfect. Practice makes permanent. So teach your students the skills they need, and have them practice doing it perfectly so that they can succeed.

Now go create a great day for yourself and your students!

Katrina Ayres, Positive Teaching Strategies

Additional Awesome Teacher Nation Resources


  • Create a Great Day for Yourself and Your Students
  • 5-Minute Classroom Management Hints
  • The Take-Charge Teacher
  • All The Ways I Screwed Up My First Year of Teaching
  • The Classroom Teacher’s Coloring Book
  • The Classroom Teacher’s Coloring Book, Volume 2

VideosAwesome Teacher Nation TV videos, including:

  • Why Threats and Punishments Don’t Work
  • Saving Time on Paperwork and Grading
  • 7 Strategies to Deal With the Pencil Sharpener
  • What’s the BEST Classroom Management Strategy?

Online Courses

  • Taming the Chaos: How to Create and Effective Classroom Routine
  • Making Money as an In-Demand Substitute Teacher
  • A Day in the Life of a Substitute Teacher
  • The Substitute Teacher’s Troubleshooting Guide

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