7 Tips for Supporting Students' Behaviors
The biggest reason that kids struggle in their general education class is their behaviors. So here are some ideas to make behavior management a little easier.........
- Look at how things are arranged in the room. Are there problem areas?
- How are your desks arranged? Do you need rows or groups? How is the spacing?
- Is the environment itself calming or overwhelming? We are sensory creatures– loud, crowded, visually overwhelming classrooms can stress all of us out.
- Do you need a cool-down area? That’s an area where kids can go when they need a break. Unlike a time out area, cool down areas are designed to help kids self-regulate.
It is rarely just one kid in a room struggling with their behavior.
Start by looking at the whole group first. How many kids are on task? How many are struggling?
The easiest way to improve the behavior of a target student is to improve the behavior of the group– kids respond to social pressure better than to anything we can dream up.
So start with classroom management.
- Are there clear classroom rules? Are they posted somewhere obvious?
- Are there clear classroom incentives? We all do better when we are rewarded for our good behavior whether through praise, group points, or an occasional extra recess. Clearly tie the incentives to your class rules and goals.
- Are there clear consequences? Consequences don’t need to be drastic– but for the rules to be effective they need to be certain. Consistency is the most important thing with consequences.
- Does the classroom have clear procedures? If kids are getting in fights near the water fountain, start by figuring out if they actually know what they are supposed to do. Consistent, well taught classroom procedures prevent an impressive amount of behaviors.
Relationships are like bank accounts– you have to make deposits before you can make a withdrawal.
The deposits are positive interactions and the withdrawals are the negative ones. If you try to overdraw your account, you will face penalties–like a kid not bothering to listen to you or learning that the only way they get your attention is by acting up.
Behavior happens for a reason. If you don’t know why a behavior is happening, you can’t make it stop.
- Learn the ABCs of behavior— antecedent, behavior, consequence. Make sure you aren’t actually making the behavior worse by reinforcing it.
- Get to know the kiddo! The more you know about the student, the better you can manage their behaviors. Are they on meds? What do they like? Does calling home actually work for them?
- Can you figure out why they are doing the behavior? The behavior has a function for the kid. What is it? If you want to stop it, start by trying to figure out why it is happening.
- Our responses can make a situation better or worse. Just like the kids, we get escalated when behaviors happen. Learn your own triggers and think about how you are responding when that kid gets on your last nerve.
- Learn about the crisis cycle. When a kid is escalated (freaking out) they really CAN’T understand what you are saying. There are great moments to intervene– and really cruddy ones– so save yourself a few headaches and learn when you should step in– and when you need to back away.
They work. Really. And they are incredibly easy to make too.
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Learn all the awesome strategies for Autism like social stories, social thinking, and 5 point scales. They work for so much more than just Autism!