Student Behavior Management Approaches
There are several components a teacher must master in order to teach their class effectively. While the lesson you’re teaching is the most important, you can’t effectively teach without good classroom management. An unruly classroom is an ineffective classroom.
In this video, we will discuss the different approaches to managing student behavior in the classroom and how the students can best be supported. Let’s begin!
Behavior can be one of the hardest obstacles that teachers face, especially if there is a range of unique needs in the classroom. Many teachers spend significant amounts of class time handling behavior issues when that time could be much better utilized focusing on the lesson at hand. Thankfully, there are several ways to overcome these behavioral issues.
It is important to remember that students have to be taught the skills they need to be successful. As teachers, while we first think about what academics they need, there are also a number of additional skills they need just as much. Examples of these are
- social skills
- problem-solving skills
- critical-thinking skills
Many kids don’t naturally know these and need to be explicitly instructed.
There are various strategies that teachers can put in place to help support the development of these skills. For instance, it’s important to think about ways you can provide structure in the classroom. This includes both the physical layout of the room and how you organize your class period. For example, when a student first walks into the room, where do they find the assignments? Are the seats arranged in a way that allows for collaboration but not for off-task behavior? Where are the materials if a student comes in without a pencil? Setting these expectations is important and allows a student to know in advance what their responsibilities are in your classroom.
Another aspect of classroom management to consider is how you will expect students to interact with you when the need arises. For instance, what is an appropriate way to ask a question or to request to use the bathroom? What is the protocol when a student does not have their assignment? The more you think through each section of your classroom and class period, the more direct the response can be in case something happens. Structure is particularly important in special education classrooms. Students in these classrooms benefit from understanding exactly what is expected of them so that they can meaningfully engage with the learning task at hand.
Additionally, some disabilities can result in more complex behavior in the classroom, requiring special education teachers to modify their approaches as necessary. For example, students with ADHD tend to perform better when they are closely monitored and have minimal distractions. While creating their behavior management approach, teachers of students with ADHD should consider utilizing strategies such as close proximity or placing their seats in the front row of the class in order to minimize visual distractions. For students with attention challenges, staying in one spot for too long can also be difficult, so consider providing standing areas or offering your students the opportunity to switch locations throughout the class.
For those teaching students with autism spectrum disorder, you may also choose to focus your management style on ensuring that the classroom remains calm and regulated. Students with autism frequently do best with a structured, predictable classroom with minimal change. Students might also benefit from having an area away from the rest of the students where they can go when they’re feeling overwhelmed. It is helpful to schedule time for transitions and speak about these transitions out loud so they are expected. Furthermore, it’s important to consider any sensory factors. For example, too many people speaking at the same time or too loudly might create a feeling of chaos. Considering how the class looks and feels from your students’ perspectives can help you mitigate any issues before they arise.
When creating a behavior management plan for your classroom, setting clear expectations is the first step you should take. However, to achieve true student success, there are two more essential steps the teacher must take. First, spend quality time reviewing these procedures throughout the year, not just at the beginning. You may even want to post visual reminders around the room. Students will be able to see how much thought you have put into these and how serious you are about them. The second and most important step is that you remain consistent. Consistency is the key to the entire system working. If a teacher sets procedures but then makes numerous exceptions, it sends a message to the students that veering from these expectations is acceptable. Not only will that create a reduced feeling of safety for the student, but it will also allow more room for conflict. Make sure that when you set procedures, you are setting plans of actions you know you can actually follow through on.
Another important aspect of a student behavior management approach is creating strong relationships with your students. Being able to truly get to know your students is crucial for all teachers, but especially in a classroom with students who have diverse needs. By doing so, you make them feel more comfortable and you gain a better understanding of where they’re coming from and how they will react to certain situations. Positive relationships encourage both motivation and engagement in the classroom. This type of student-teacher rapport allows students to feel safe and encouraged to contribute positively to the classroom experience.
So, what happens when you have structured your classroom carefully, been as consistent as possible with your procedures, and worked to build rapport with your class, but a student still does not respond with appropriate behavior? There are many different effective strategies that teachers can turn to, so let’s go over a few.
The first is praising the appropriate behavior, which is what you would do for a student or group of students after they have demonstrated the desired behavior. Be specific about what you are praising. This has been shown to raise student performance in the classroom since it allows students to clearly understand what you are looking for.
The second is called positive framing. Positive framing occurs when you direct your language on what the right thing would be instead of focusing on the negative behavior that is happening. For example, instead of telling a student to stop talking, you might say something like, “let’s make sure we are focusing on our book.” This can be successful, as it stops the unwanted behavior by telling the student exactly what you would like them to do to fix it, while encouraging the students in the room that are already exhibiting the target behavior.
A third strategy is to work directly with a student to create a behavior chart. In this strategy, a teacher takes the student aside at an appropriate time to talk about one or two behaviors they would benefit from changing and decides with the student how they can jointly monitor progress. For example, in an elementary setting, a teacher may have a student who consistently speaks out of turn. When creating a plan to address the behavior, the teacher and student identify a goal which feels attainable to the student. An example of this might be that during two out of five classes in a day, the student will speak only after raising their hand. As the student achieves this goal, the goal can grow to three periods, four periods, and eventually, mastery. One of the benefits of this strategy is that as students meet the goals they had an active role in setting, they often gain confidence in themselves and begin to feel a sense of autonomy. Feeling that they can succeed at managing their own behavior in turn helps develop essential self-regulation skills.
That’s it for today’s video on behavior management approaches. Thanks for watching, and happy studying!