Choose Instruction Carefully
Before teaching a student with any disorder it is important to focus on the necessary classroom strategies. Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) can be especially troubling to teachers, as the student seems to test all boundaries and discard any attempt at discipline. Before you tackle the discipline aspect of ODD, you’ll need to prepare the backdrop effectively.
First of all, you’ll want to carefully choose the content and instructional techniques that you plan to use in the classroom. In addition to making the lesson as interesting, engaging, and interactive as possible, you’ll want to make sure that the student with ODD is not left out of any activity and is actively involved as much as possible. You may also want to post a daily schedule, and let the student with ODD know about any schedule changes days in advance.
Provide Structure and Discipline
If you have a child with ODD in your classroom, you will need to particularly consistent in your discipline. Make sure to set up clear and nonnegotiable rules for your classroom, with clear consequences for students who do not follow the rules. Then follow through on those rules, using consistent disciplinary techniques and being as fair as possible.
If necessary for disciplinary purposes, give two brief and clear choices for the student to choose from. Because students with ODD are most successful when you keep them busy, try to minimize the amount of downtime in the classroom, and try to avoid long transition times as much as possible. If all of your discipline methods seem to fail, speak with the child’s parents about techniques that they have found useful.
Give Positive Reinforcement
As much as possible, provide positive reinforcement for the child with ODD as well as the rest of the class, praising students’ work whenever applicable. Treat students with respect, even when disciplining them. Treat them as if they were the people you would like them to be, and try to avoid bringing up issues that may cause an argument, especially when dealing with a child who has ODD. Save those issues for calm times, and spend most of your conversation time on positive topics.
Avoid Power Struggles
When a student with ODD is in your class, it is imperative to avoid power struggles as much as possible. You’ll need to think about your priorities and pick your battles. This may mean allowing students to rewrite assignments or retake tests in order to show that they have mastered material. When you do feel it is important to point something negative out to a student, try to do it in private whenever possible. Keep your voice low, speaking softly, and slowly.
With these classroom strategies for students with ODD, oppositional defiant disorder will not disrupt your classroom more than it needs to. You may even find that you are closer with the student who has ODD than you had ever imagined.