How to help learners establish and maintain positive conduct

To influence progressive transformation in any student’s life, educationists believe that it requires teachers and parents to pool several important factors, including encouraging constructive behaviour.

Valens Mushinzimana, the in-charge of discipline at Lycee de Kigali, says for any student to be successful in the future, a progressive learning environment must exist, academically, socially and emotionally.

The impact

Silver Busonozi, the dean of students at Riviera High School, is of the view that teachers’ interaction and behaviour with students plays a major role in influencing positive change.

It starts with teachers and how they behave, he says. Learners spend most of the time with their teachers, therefore, they tend to lean towards them as role models.

Busonozi says that depending on the principles teachers set in the course of learning, it is possible to direct the behaviour of learners in the right direction.

Meanwhile, he says, teachers’ attitude has everything to do with how learners perceive life in general.

“How we socialise with them determines how they relate to their peers. A teacher with either positive or negative attitude in communication with students shapes the overall attitude of their students,” he says.

How to go about it

To achieve this, Mushinzimana says, there should be someone to create the desired environment, and this should be an instructor, parent or even a mentor.

“Whether at home or school, there should be a conducive environment for each child to grow. During the holiday, parents should take this opportunity to positively influence their children,” he says.

In any environment, he says, having a code of conduct for learners to follow is ideal.

He says this should be practiced by teachers and parents. This is because learners need to understand the consequences and impact of their actions.

John Nzeyisenge, the director of Good Harvest School in Kigali, says that people who influence positive change should be mindful of the reaction of learners, and that their views should be considered as well.

He says that one way to do this is to remind them to treat others the way they want to be treated.

This, Nzeyisenge says, can help them develop a sense of team work; helping one another in case of a problem, and creating a favourable environment for other students.

Because learners come from diverse backgrounds, Nzayisenge says that as an instructor, it’s important to put this into consideration while handling or dealing with students.

“It’s important that students are showed positive conduct in a consistent and systematic way at school and home,” he says.

He says that parents and teachers should teach learners how to admit mistakes, and most importantly, take responsibility for their actions, and work towards fixing what was done wrong.

This, he says, will encourage them to be honest with others and themselves. Also, they should be guided on how to set goals that will help them achieve personal growth and improvement.

Mushinzimana says that as a parent or instructor, being able to make students feel good about themselves is important. He explains that this is basic motivation for students. Positive actions will help them feel good about themselves.

Also, he feels that changing negative thoughts to positive ones can help produce constructive actions, and that it will also boost their self-esteem.

Busonozi says teachers should be able to interact with their learners in a positive manner. He says, regardless of the situation or circumstance, instructors should strive to respond and interact with students in a positive way.

“This can provide a positive environment for learners to not only study without difficulty, but also grow or develop in various aspects,” he says.

Being a role model

Mushinzimana says teachers have the ability to be character creators, mentors, parents — name it — in any aspect.

But for them to bring out the desired conduct in their learners, they must possess the aforementioned standards.

“If you want to positively influence the conduct of other people, you should be able to possess the same standards you are trying to encourage,” he says.

He says being a role model is the most powerful form of educating, and whatever a teacher’s wish for a student is, if they set a good example themselves, their learners will definitely follow suit.

Joel Habimana, head teacher at GS Bujyujyu in Rwamagana District, says a teacher should be a role model for students, not just in school but in society too.

He says when teachers set good examples, they earn respect in community. This encourages learners to work hard and do the same.

“Parents should respect teachers so that their children do the same. In some cases, students don’t have respect for teachers because their parents look down on them, possibly because of their income or other factors,” he says.

He says this can hinder students from achieving their goals because of the environment they are exposed to.

Habimana says that parents and teachers should focus on good and bad behaviour of learners.

He says it’s important to strengthen positive behaviour. For instance, applaud positive behaviour in any environment.

“Although this may be viewed as simple and easy, for some teachers, it’s difficult. But inspiring students to be on their best behaviour is worth it,” he says.

He adds that this, if possible, should start in the early years because it is easy to understand what is expected of them as they grow, as opposed to expecting that from them when they are older.

He adds that if students are able to have close relationships with their teachers and parents, it will build support.

 “Having family meetings, sharing meals, taking interest in other people’s hobbies and engaging in extra-curricular activities, especially during the holidays, will help create positive conduct in learners,” he says.