I have two main approaches to classroom behavior. The first behavior plan is quite regimented and is only used in school environments where discipline challenges where quite high. It has been adapted from the clinical faculty that I have worked with and is supported by many of the most recent studies in classroom management. Although it seems confining, it is utilized for classes with students with low self-esteem who have only been taught to be followers…students who were accustomed to being told what to do instead of making their own choices. However, through this plan, students learn how to make choices that are good for them and how to be in control of their own education. Essentially, I see this behavior plan as a foundation building tool. Students who already have a sense of control over their actions and learning would not need such a regimented system. Instead I would implement a second strategy that was based on mutual respect, but still reliant on sharing power with the students, enabling them to make choices not just about their behavior but also about their learning process.
The following is a more detailed outline of my strategies. While the first approach would adhere more closely to the following, the second approach would only use these processes as periodic maintenance.
My behavior plan has been adapted from the clinical faculty that I have worked with and is supported by many of the most recent studies in classroom management. It was used successfully in a school with a higher than average amount of behavioral difficulty during my elementary practicum experience, and can be adapted to any age range or behavioral need.
The single most important element in this plan is remaining consistent and fair, and reminding students that when a consequence is issued, it is not the student that is being viewed negatively, but the behavior. I feel the best way to gain respect and desirable behavior from students is to show that they are respected as individuals and to offer a safe and caring environment.
The plan is structured around a list of behaviors that students are to avoid, short enough to be easily remembered, and general enough to encompass the majority of possible behavior problems. They are primarily based on respect for the teacher and classmates. For example, some behaviors to avoid include being messy on purpose, being defiant, or being disruptive. Students are allotted two reminders of appropriate behavior during each class period, and upon receiving the third they fill out a behavior form. This form includes spaces where the student can indicate all of the behaviors that he or she was responsible for. This gives the student time to calm down, reflect on what they did, and relate the consequence to their actions.
The more behavior forms the student has, the more serious the teacher’s follow-up will be. Some of the follow-up actions include speaking with the student individually, moving the student to an isolated seat, giving the student an alternative assignment, calling or sending a letter home, or writing letters to the counselor and teachers. The forms serve as records that help the teacher make sure that he or she is being consistent with follow-up actions.
In addition to helping students avoid negative behavior I feel it is just as important to encourage them to choose positive behavior. I like to give intrinsic rewards such as assigning helping duties and frequently recognizing when the class as a whole is behaving properly.