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- Teacher Anxiety: How to Cope With Anxiety Under Stress - July 29, 2018
- Depression Kills Teachers if Left Untreated: It Should Not Kill Their Careers - July 23, 2018
- Amidst Declining Mental Health in Teachers, What Can Administrators Do? - June 30, 2018
- 5 Things I'd Tell Myself in My Earlier Teaching Years - October 15, 2017
- How Class Dojo Saves My Sanity Daily - October 1, 2017
- Surviving the School Year: Game of Thrones Style - August 27, 2017
- What to Change Behavior? Start With Class Meetings in Special Education - August 20, 2017
- When Your Administrator Doesn't Like You - July 3, 2017
- Conquering Teacher Biases Against Disabilities: Important Strategies - May 8, 2017
Last week, I covered behavior strategies to use prior to behavior incidences occurring as a way of being proactive (call it hurricane preparedness training, if you will). This week, I'd like to cover what to do during and after the storm, so to speak. What happens when you've got a student in your room currently exhibiting behavior issues that you need interventions for? This list will cover everyday behavior strategies.
- Behavioral contract: Sit down with the student and come up with a behavior contract. Make sure the agreement outlines specifics. It should include specific positive behaviors the student should engage in or negative behaviors that the student should avoid, what rewards the student will receive for following the behavior contract, and the conditions by which the student will earn the rewards (i.e. working quietly during math class for at least 60% of the class period for four consecutive days).
- Making Apologies: Helping the student make an appropriate apology after the conflict to the person he or she offended, whether in writing or in person, is a way to ensure the student gains back social trust. However, the offending student should accept blame for what happened and show sincere remorse when apologizing or neither the student nor the person accepting the apology will go away happy with the result.
- Intentional Ignoring: Sometimes a student exhibits a particular behavior purely for attention. If at all possible, you should ignore this behavior. Sometimes a behavior can get extinguished purely with this strategy.
- Modeling through Others: Praise children who are demonstrating the behaviors you’re seeking from the target student when they’re around your student. When you praise these behaviors, you should clearly describe the commendable behaviors. When the target student models the same behaviors, you should instantly praise him or her. For instance, if I see the student next to the target student taking notes when I've asked them to (and this is an issue for the target student), I might say, "Wow, good job getting all those notes down, Rebecca!"
- Praise: It is important to praise the student for positive behaviors. When the student participates in a positive behavior that the teacher has picked to increase, the teacher praises the student for that behavior. Along with positive comments (e.g., "Awesome job!"), the praise should give details about the behavior the child showed (e.g., "You did a great job staying focused on that math problem, even when those kids around you were talking!").
- Loss of privileges: Let the student know that as long as he or she maintains appropriate behavior, the student may access a list of privileges pre-selected by the student (e.g., access to games to play, the opportunity to have 5 minutes of free time). You should let the student know what kind of problem behavior and what level of intensity may result in loss of privileges and for how long. Be careful with taking away privileges. If the student always loses privileges, then he or she may feel there's never anything to work for.
- Privately approach the student: Silently approach the student, point out the problem behavior and how it is interfering with classwork or interrupting teaching. You should remind the student of the academic task that he or she needs to complete. Give the student a chance to explain his or her actions. The student should respectfully be offered the choice to improve behavior or receive a negative consequence. Privately approaching a student can help him or her to save face and decrease the prospect that the student will become defensive or defiant. At times, just asking the student "What's up" can change the way the whole interaction goes. If they ask what you mean, you can just say, "Well, I noticed you were..." and ask them "What's up"? You can change the interaction from negative to positive by giving the student a chance to explain and then change.
- Redirection: Sometimes it helps to interrupt the problem behavior by calling on the student to answer a question, assigning him or her a task to carry out, or otherwise refocusing the child's attention.
- Rewarding Alternative Behaviors: Only call on the student, offer positive attention, or incentives only during times that the student is showing proper social and academic behaviors. When the student misbehaves or does not engage in academics, that same positive attention or incentives should get withheld.
- Response Cost: Usually, response cost programs first award a student a certain number of tokens with no conditions attached. Throughout the monitoring period, the student has a token withdrawn whenever he or she displays a behavior that is inappropriate (a previously agreed-upon behavior). The student may 'cash in' any points that he or she still retains at the end of the monitoring period or may 'bank' the points toward a future reward or privilege.
- Rules review: Approach the misbehaving student and have him or her read off the posted class rules, ask the student which of those rules his or her current behavior is violating, and have the student state what positive behavior he or she will engage in instead.
- Parent contact: In this case you would call, send a note home to, or e-mail the student's parent(s) regarding the behavioral problems. The parent may ask for advice on how to better reach and teach the child at school. The teacher may offer suggestions for appropriate parent involvement (e.g., "You may want to talk with your child about…, which is something we view as very serious.").
- Timeout/Detention/Inschool suspension: The student gets taken out of the classroom because of a behavioral violation. In timeout, the student's elimination from the classroom may last very for a short time period (3-5 minutes). With in-school suspension, the student's removal from instruction may last for longer periods (e.g., half a day to a day). Detention may require that the student spend time in a non-rewarding setting, but that consequence may get deferred until after school to prevent loss of learning.
- Office referral: Usually used as a last resort, you would write-up a referral documenting the student's misbehavior and sends both the referral and student to the principal's office for intervention.
You'll notice if you look closely at the list that most of the strategies include positive behavior strategies. Most students respond much better to praise and rewards than reprimands. Upping the praise when I notice good things happening, helping a student save face by talking to them privately, and giving a student the opportunity to succeed are three of the most successful strategies in my classroom. In addition, I do use proactive strategies to head off these challenges as much as possible and to help reinforce what I do on a daily basis, so if you want to check those out, you can visit my Before the Storm strategies.
What have you found that works in your classroom best?