Examining the Effect of an Educator’s Positive Behavioral Modeling on Executive Functioning in Elementary-Aged Children
Gordon, Lauren A.
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Of the many educational theories that exist on how children learn, modeling is an important component in the classroom when children are given the chance to observe behaviors of the peers and adults in their environment. In a Montessori environment, observation has a profound effect on the success of the triad: the teacher, the child, and the prepared environment. Osmotic learning often occurs without explicit instruction. Much research exists on modeling theories, but not much research exists documenting the direct effects of a teacher’s modeling on the Executive Functioning in children ages 6 to 9. This action research took place at a private Montessori school in a midwestern city in a lower elementary classroom of 22 students. Modeling behavior is built into a Montessori educator’s repertoire and is often documented through observations and reflection. To examine the direct effect of that modeling on Executive Functioning, this study used quantitative and qualitative data taken over a six-week period. This study demonstrates that positive behavioral modeling may influence a child’s brain development, specifically regarding the prefrontal cortex and limbic system where Executive Functioning is “located.” In turn, building a cache of positive behaviors for an educator to model to aid in this specific development may need to be considered when creating curriculum for best practices in a Montessori classroom.