Summer of Learning 2017 – behaviours….is the ‘what’ or ‘why’ more important (aka do you support paddling)

Summer of Learning 2017 – behaviours….is the what or why more important (aka do you support paddling)


Here’s the article that got me thinking:



It got me thinking because it gets to the tough decision in education. Do we just focus on the behaviour and modify it (this is faster as they will learn that behaviour x = physical pain [and even isolation/removal of recess/detention/etc can cause pain]) or do we take the time (which is a limited resource already) to find out the “why” behind the behaviour to provide support to create authentic change.



Talking with another educator, her husband noted that her case load (working with at risk youth) has decreased its caseload because….


  • when people ask me why I think “we are seeing more mental wellness issues in school than ever before”…….
  • my belief is that it’s because they’re staying in school…..whereas in previous years many of “those” students would be disconnected from schools.
  • I know when I look back at my elementary school photos (thanks to those on Facebook who kept theirs!) I see many faces there that I didn’t at the start of secondary school….and even fewer (half) on the graduation stage.



But it’s not easy. I like taking inspiration from @tweetsomemoore and her push for true inclusion (and her great book: – because when we treat students as individuals….we value them and provide relevance and meaning to their Learning. Not paddling them into compliance.



It’s why when dealing with “behaviours” we need to remember that the “behaviours” we don’t like are there for a reason: to distract from the real reason…..wanting “you” to react to the symptoms, not the cause.  Time is the number one tool.  Relationships are essential (need to establish trust and confidence). And if mental wellness is involved, there is no one easy set of rules that can be followed……



The challenge is on: how can you help establish identifying “why” the behaviours are the way they are? Can you ignore the “what” that is happening (this can be very uncomfortable – can you ignore being called a @*#!*$#&@! ?) and not be distracted by those unwanted behaviours?



There are some strategies that are “easier”…..or at least appear easier (like paddling) but they don’t make an authentic change – just a change in temporary behaviour to avoid physical punishment (a poster I like: character is what you do when people aren’t watching). Choose the approach that will have the biggest positive impact on the learners you work with. Every. Time.

About technolandy

Principaling on the Pacific in Powell River BC Pushing 'technologization' in education: blending technology and curriculum seamlessly. Advocate for better understanding of Anxiety in Education (and use of self-regulation) Utilizing ePortfolios & Descriptive Feedback to personalize learning!
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