Effect of Two Years of School Closure on Teenagers’ Brains

Behaviour management in schools – What has a 2-year gap done to the brains of teenagers?

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The COVID-19 pandemic posed unprecedented stress to teenagers which has had far-reaching consequences on behavioural management in schools. The home confinement of children and adolescents contributed to disruption in their education, physical activities and opportunities for socialization. 

The absence of a structured setting in the school for a long duration resulted in changes in their behaviour, boredom and a lack of interest in engaging in various academic and extracurricular activities. Post pandemic, children have become clingier, attention seeking and more dependent on their parents due to the long-term shift in their routine.

What’s required is for a behavioural management strategy to be implemented at Schools to ensure that this prolonged absence from the classroom and frequent operations through online mediums doesn’t impact teenagers’ behaviour forever .

Effect of two years of school closure has had on teenagers’ brains

1. Classroom participation

According to LSE thinks, 2022, teenager engagement in the classroom has gone down. The report mentioned that 40% of children spent more than 5 hours in digital learning during a pandemic as compared to only 2% before that.

Due to this, teenagers have lost the ability to think critically. They are less responsive to factual questions and face difficulty in logical reasoning.

2. Adhering to classroom discipline and rules

After the schools reopened, 76% of teachers reported aggressive outbursts happening every other day. Teachers faced difficulty in behaviour management in schools and also observed that students took frequent breaks in class.

In schools across India, 50% of instructional time has been lost due to distraction and lack of attention in children.

3. Peer relationships

Students’ leadership and volunteering has dropped drastically. Teenagers’ participation in group activities and learning have decreased due to poor peer relationships.

Online education has hampered the communication skills of children. 40% of children had excessive screen time during the lockdown which led to less peer interaction in the classroom.

4. Disruptive behaviour –  

Disruptive behaviour refers to behaviours that occur when a child has difficulties controlling his/her actions. According to the teachers, 27% of the students face emotional instability and behavioural changes including tantrums, interrupting others, aggressiveness and socially inappropriate behaviour resulting in poor academic performance.

Also Read: 5 simple methods to navigate new paths for growth in a post-pandemic world

As teachers, the task of mitigating learning gaps, providing safe spaces, inspiring lifelong learning and being a constant source of support for students requires behavioural management strategy to ensure that these two years should not hamper the teenager’s brain in the long run.

Before covid 70% of the challenge was to achieve academic mastery and 30% was related to behavioural issues but post covid it’s vice-versa. Behavioural management in schools is an important aspect to run the school properly without any hindrance.

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Behavioural strategies that can be implemented are

1. Set rules together with students

Teachers should ask students to take ownership of the behavioural rules. This will work in teachers’ favour as peer pressure enforces them to improve behaviour management in schools. Students should also set ground rules and consequences for any violations. This behavioural strategy will make students accountable for their behaviour as they have set the rules.

2. Creating stimulating lessons

During covid, students spent an ample amount of time on digital learning. They have gone through various content dealing with interesting styles of teaching.

The teachers need to modify their teaching strategies and lesson plans to grab the interest of the child and thereby avoid any deviation and disruption in behaviour.

This behaviour management strategy should involve students in group activities and projects that will build their interpersonal skills and leadership qualities. It will also enhance cooperation among children.

3. Positive language

Negative reinforcement has a way of reinforcing the wrong behaviour. Students like to do what they are told not to do. So, rather than creating a vicious cycle of behaviour challenges, use positive language to model the behaviour you want to see in the child.

4. Maintaining a routine

Having a set routine is an important behaviour management strategy that helps establish guidelines and behaviour expectations. A routine ensures that students know what’s coming next, so the teachers will spend less time giving out instructions—freeing up time to do the real work.

Include the students in establishing a class schedule that works for everyone and give them responsibility for some routine tasks. This will give a child ownership of what they are doing and develop a sense of responsibility.

5. Providing opportunities for socialization –

Schools apart from emphasizing on academics should also organize various events to provide more opportunities for students’ mindfulness, creativity, sport, fun and community cohesion for better behaviour management in schools.

The shutting down of schools for two years has created a devastating impact on teenagers’ brains. Behavioural management is an essential aspect of neutralizing infractions and focusing on maximizing students’ learning with very few interruptions for a successful school year.

It also promotes student engagement and cooperative learning. These behaviour management strategies develop the social-emotional aspects of learning that are crucial to the school classroom.

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