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Managing Behaviors in the Classroom
One student's behavior, unfortunately, can sometimes greatly impact an entire classroom. With growing class sizes and inclusion of exceptionally needy students, dealing with disruptive students can be extremely frustrating for educators. Being proactive with a classroom behavior plan may help prevent some behaviors from developing, but others may require more individualized intervention strategies in the educational setting.
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Establishing clear classroom rules and expectations is the best preventative measure a teacher can take to avoid problem behaviors and is a typical intervention strategy in education. Having your students help create classroom rules, creating posters displaying the rules, and signing their name to a class contract may help them take ownership of their student responsibilities. While rule violations should have consistent and natural consequences, it is also helpful to establish a positive reward system. Reward systems should never be used as bribery, and should not conflict with consequences. If students earn a reward, that reward should not be taken away if they then violate a rule (are noisy or don't finish their work); rather, the natural consequence for that violation should occur (practice being quiet or finish work at recess).
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Individual Behavior Plans
When undesirable behaviors are specific to one student and are not addressed effectively with a classroom management system, an individual behavior plan should be considered. Individual behavior plans should not include more than two or three well-defined behaviors, and the student should be able to meet with success (achieve a reward) quickly in the beginning. Behavior contracts should be developed with the child and tailored to the developmental abilities of that student. For younger students, contracts may include pictures or simple sentences describing the desired behavior. Stickers or stars can be used to chart the student's progress.
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Functional Behavior Analysis (FBA)
If an individual behavior plan has not been successful, or if a student who receives special education services has behavior goals included in an Individualized Educational Plan (IEP), it may be necessary to complete a Functional Behavior Analysis (FBA). An FBA is the process of gathering information to determine what the student's behaviors are, when they are most likely to occur (antecedent), and what function the behaviors serve or what the child gets out of continuing those behaviors. There are several levels of FBA: Informal (or Level 1), Simple and Complex. Though all three levels seek the same results, the staff members involved and the information gathered are increased as the level of FBA is. A Level 1 FBA would likely be informal and include the teacher and school counselor, whereas a Complex FBA would likely involve a behavior specialist or school psychologist.
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References and Useful Tools for Planning Behavioral Intervention Strategies in Education
- Hawthorne Educational Services Pre-Referral Intervention Manual-Third Edition provides simple, easily implemented strategies for common behavioral problems such as calling out, task avoidance, disrupting peers while working as well as more severe behaviors including aggression towards peers or teachers and stealing.
- The Pennsylvania Department of Education offers a Functional Behavior Assessment Worksheet as well as additional resources.
- At Bright Hub Education you can read Tips For Writing a Behavioral Plan as well as Easy Classroom Discipline You Can Implement Today.