By Michelle Garcia Winner |

Question: I was wondering if you could help me explain some of the language you teach.  I am having some trouble with the teachers I am working with wanting to use the language “expected and unexpected.”  I have utilized many consultation tactics and they still are using the language “appropriate and inappropriate.”  I am trying to think outside the box a little and thought maybe if the explanation came from you, they would understand the terminology better.

Our Response:

Historically there is a tendency to think we can teach students to learn social behavior by setting behavioral expectations and then simply telling them what we expect from them or telling them when we are disappointed in their behavior. To this end, professionals and parents, upon noticing a student doing an undesired behavior, will tell the student, “That’s inappropriate.” Rarely do you hear teachers telling students their behaviors are “appropriate.”  When we interpret the meaning behind the use of the phrase “That’s inappropriate,” we usually find it is used in a manner that reflects the speaker is disappointed in the student if not upset with him or her. Therefore it is used to scold and redirect rather than to teach.

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