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What is Self-Monitoring in the Classroom?

Instructor: Catherine Rose

Catherine taught middle and high school English and has a master's degree in Education.

Effective educators know that a successful student is one who is independent and self-directed in both behavior and learning. In this lesson, we will explore what it means to self-monitor in the classroom for both behavior and learning improvements.

What Is Self-Monitoring for Behavior and Learning?

Research shows that when students pay close attention to their own behavior and learning data, they make better choices and achieve better results in learning targets. Self-monitoring is a useful technique for many students to achieve these results in the classroom. This technique has two parts. The first part involves the student recording data, and the second part involves the student comparing that data to a set of standards and previous data that has been recorded. Self-monitoring can be used for behavior modification and learning achievement.

Whether used for behavior or learning, self-monitoring is most successful when specific expectations are clearly communicated to students. Teachers must also follow seven critical steps:

  • Set expectations and specifically state what is being monitored.
  • Determine a method for students to record data and use it consistently.
  • Set a schedule for students and communicate it clearly.
  • Teach students the monitoring cue, such as a bell, beep, or clapping sound.
  • If desired, determine what rewards will be given for showing improvements or meeting expectations.
  • Meet with students regularly to check progress.
  • Help students move away from the monitoring as they become stronger in behavior and learning.

Let's explore some details specific to behavior and learning self-monitoring.

Self-Monitoring for Behavior

Self-monitoring for behavior issues is a good choice when a student is exhibiting a lack of attention, is distracting other students, is often off-task, or exhibits any behavior that is taking away from his or her ability to learn in the classroom.

An essential component to self-monitoring for behavior involves the teacher sitting down with the student to identify the problem behaviors and creating a system that the student and teacher agree upon for monitoring that behavior. The teacher and student must decide upon a monitoring cue that will signify to the student that the behavior needs to be addressed. These cues will be different for each student and may include gestures, sounds, pictures, or other methods that will allow the teacher to help the student know that the behavior is occurring and needs to be addressed.

The teacher and student must also agree upon a checklist to use that works for the student. Since there are many options, both electronic and non-electronic, it is essential for the student to be able to work with the checklist.

Another way to make this method successful is by allowing the student to identify behaviors he or she sees as being distracting and what the triggers are for those behaviors. Perhaps sitting beside a particular student is a bad choice for Student A because he is good friends with this student and they distract one another.

For behavior self-monitoring, teacher check-ins are important because the teacher can praise the student for any improvements that have been made or discuss any changes to the monitoring that will help the student be more successful in the future. This check-in can also be a time for the teacher to discuss fading out the self-monitoring process if the student has shown significant improvement in behavior.

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