Signal to Noise: Behavior

If you allow the business of school to weigh too heavily, it will undermine the foundation of your craft. Focused on the trouble around you, everyone becomes an adversary and eventually the students become problematic.


All you can see is the noise. Behavior — a neutral term — becomes a specific term. Bad Behavior. “I cannot handle their behavior.” The implication is undesirable and pervasive.

By adding meaning to behavior — recognizing patterns, purposes, and goals — we may begin to understand see the signals that are being transmitted.

Signal : Noise as Soil : Dirt

Rather than viewing behavior as desirable and undesirable, I would like to observe it as placed and misplaced. This afternoon I spent many hours weeding our garden — removing what was mis-placed. When I was finished, I left my boots on the porch so that the soil I was working did not become dirt on the living room floor. As I consider this example of placement within context, I laughed as I remembered taking a moment to rinse my hands with the hose. There I was: surrounded by soil, plants, and pulled weeds wanting “clean” hands. My behavior was not appropriate for the context as I had more work to do and more time in which to do it. Sometimes, I guess, a repose is important — I will bring that thought to the classroom as I am sure a student will need a repose mid-task.

Heading into this year, I look to putting things in their correct place. Setting my feet firmly. Defending the faith. Finding my allies. Doing my thing.

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