Behavior problems are a significant issue in classrooms everywhere. However, some teachers seem to have a better handle on the behavior problems, they seem to have better control. When teachers learn behavior intervention strategies, it can improve the climate of the classroom, lead to less frustration, and promote more learning for all students. Some teachers have a gift for promoting positive behavior, but most of us must learn specific behavior intervention techniques. It takes patience, it takes practice, and it takes the heart to be consistent.
Behavior interventions need to be implemented by the classroom teacher, but can be done with the support of a School Psychologist, Administrator, or other professional in your school. It can be helpful to have a School Psychologist observe the student and the dynamics of the class to help develop a plan. There are a variety of plans that are often used. It might be helpful to use a specific behavior plan, but keep in mind that each child is unique and the behavior plan may need to be adapted to better suit his or her needs.
Some students will need additional support to make good choices. Not all students are intrinsically motivated to make good choices, for a variety of reasons. Sometimes, the student has differing expectations at home, they may have underlying impulsivity issues, or they may be seeking negative attention. One of the most important steps in improving behavior is to determine the function of the behavior. If the teacher understands the cause or the precursors to the behavior, they may be more compassionate and better help to develop a realistic and successful plan. This may occur in a formal FBA meeting, or as part of a team. Determining the function of the behavior helps to develop a more successful behavior intervention
The behavioral contract is intended to change the behavior of a student who is regularly making a poor choice. It is a contract that outlines the responsibility of each participant. The contract should clearly state each participant and their responsibility. Each participant commits to fulfill a specified agreement and then signs and dates the contract. The child will agree to perform a target behavior (i.e. complete homework every night, keep hands to himself, etc.) The teacher agrees to offer a reward if the student completes the target behavior or the teacher may agree to communicate with the parent regarding student’s behaviors. Sometimes a parent will provide the reward and will also sign the contract.
A behavior chart can be an effective way for parents, teachers, and students to monitor positive behaviors. It is a way to document and visualize how well a student is doing with a specific goal and it is easy to set up and get started. A teacher creates one or two target behaviors and sets up a time frame. When the student is successful during the stated period of time, he earns a sticker, smiley face, stamp, or checkmark in the appropriate box. If a set amount of stickers are earned, he receives a reward.
The Token Economy System is a way to reward positive behavior. The system is set up by the teacher and tends to work better when used with the entire class. The teacher provides a token (play money, coin, card, etc.) when a student is caught with good behavior. A student can receive a token for completing homework, for raising her hand, for walking in the hallway, or for any variety of good choices. The token can then be used to purchase a reward later in the day or at the end of the week.
Praising the positive behavior is often key, especially for the students who are seeking attention. Providing positive attention can deter the desire to seek negative attention. When a student begins to act out, plan to ignore (as much as possible). As soon as you see a positive choice, praise them. Thank the student for sitting quietly in his seat. Tell her that you like the way she is raising her hand. When you catch a student engaging in the target behavior, quickly offer meaningful praise.
Walk around the room. It brings the teacher in closer proximity to all students. When a teacher is near the student, he is less likely to act out. This discourages problems and can prevent many negative behaviors. Seating a student who tends to easily make poor choices near the teacher can also be helpful.