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Tips and Strategies for Classroom Wide Behavior Management by School Psychologist Emma Savino

School psychologist Emma Savino recently guest blogged for EdGeeks.com, writing about the use of charts and positive praise for behavior management in the home. Today, as promised, she contributes tips, ideas and resources for behavior management in the classroom.

Tips and Strategies for Classroom Wide Behavior Management

Emma Savino, NYS Certified School Psychologist

Managing behavior in a classroom is essential for effective and consistent instruction.  Teachers are often faced with behaviors that interrupt lessons and disrupt student learning.  Here are some foundations for successful behavior management in the classroom:

  • No matter what age, respect your students.  Remember, issues that affect your students are important and ever present to them. As adults, we should be mindful of this and try to be understanding.  If your students feel respected, you will receive the same in return.
  • Create clear and explicit classroom rules using positive language.  Creating these rules as a class during the first few days of school is recommended. Be sure to post a visual reminder such as a poster or chart somewhere in the classroom.
  • Remember…yelling gets you nowhere.  Communicating calmly with your students is key. Being clear and stern when problems arise is acceptable when implemented correctly.
  • Create a team atmosphere.  Highlight student strengths and show your class how each student has different skills that will help your class be successful.  Hopefully, this can reduce bullying behaviors and create a sense of belonging.
  • Reach out to your support staff! I find that many teachers feel they need to solve their classroom problems alone.  Social workers and psychologist can offer push-in services to help manage problematic behaviors in the classroom.

There are many different techniques you can use in your classroom. Here are a few interventions/strategies to consider implementing:

  1. Token Economy System: This is probably my favorite system to implement because I have found it to be the most motivating for students.  This system works by rewarding desirable behaviors by giving your students tokens or tickets.  As a teacher, you can create a system where a specific number of tickets results in a prize or special privileges.  You can collect tickets individually or as a class working toward a common goal.  Provide small rewards weekly (i.e. homework pass, free (healthy) snack, 5 points on lowest quiz score) and also larger rewards monthly (i.e. bring in your favorite stuffed animal, potluck party, afternoon movie with popcorn, extra recess time with special events).  You can also set up a classroom store where students earn money to spend on prizes or privileges.  If students do not comply with rules (i.e. bullying behaviors, not completing homework, noncompliance) students can pay you in tickets. The amount of tickets taken away should be consistent with the offense.  However, give them ample opportunities to earn tickets back.  Try to give more than you take away. Get your students involved and find out what rewards they would work for.
  2. Non-verbal cueing: Come up with a silent signal to remind students to quiet down when your classroom get noisy. This will allow you to avoid yelling over your students.  You can also create a sign or use a puppet to redirect your class.
  3. Planned ignoring:  Many behaviors are attention seeking. Although it sounds strange, some students do engage in behaviors that get them negative attention. Ignoring behaviors that are not causing significant disruption or compromising the safety of others can be very effective in some scenarios.  Students will eventually learn that they have to gain the teacher’s attention in more proactive and appropriate ways.
  4. Praise those who do it right: If one student is not following classroom rules, select a student who is cooperating and praise them.  Phrase the language in a way that catches the other student’s attention and of course, be positive.  For example, “Wow! I love the way Ashley is seated at her desk ready to learn!”  You can go around the room and praise a few students who are doing the same.  Little Bobby who was rolling around on the floor may then look for the same praise and comply.  Be sure to praise the behavior when the student cooperates and always be specific.
  5. Plan, remind and reinforce: Once you get to know your students, you can anticipate when disruptive behaviors may occur.  Plan for these moments by reminding your students of what is expected.  For example if transitioning into the hallway is challenging for your class, 5 minutes before you leave the room, state to your students “Music is in 5 minutes. When we walk in the hallway, we will be quiet so we respect those who are working hard in their classrooms.”  Have your students repeat what you say to reinforce the expectation. Remember that prevention can be stronger than intervention!

Most of your students will respond to the typical behavior management system. However, there may be a select few in your class who will require more intense or individualized interventions. If this needed, reach out to your support staff to create an action plan.  Keep in mind, behavior management takes time.  Having a plan in place before the school year starts will facilitate more teaching time, smoother transitions and active problem solving among your students.

Resources:

teachingchannel.org – this website has video examples that model behavior management strategies.

interventioncentral.org – this website has numerous behavior interventions and reward ideas.

pbis.org– this website provides information on Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports, which is a school-wide behavior management system.  You can apply many of these principles in your classroom.

If you found this post helpful, be sure to read these past articles by Emma Savino:

Behavior Charting, Positive Reward Systems and Praise

Home-School Connection: What’s the deal with A.D.H.D?

Personal Favorite’s:

The First Days of School: How to Be An Effective Teacher by Harry Wong

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How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk by, Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish

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