Handling Behavior Problems with Love

I'm linking up with Teaching Blog Addict's huge linky party; as I was looking at the topics to choose from I thought this one was perfect to share my experiences during my first year teaching.
A Little Magic
I've had my fair share of behavior problems my first year. I'm not going to call myself an expert by any means but I found ways to turn these students around and see drastic improvements.

My first half an hour of my first day of teaching (ever) I had a little friend who had to be restrained and taken out of my room for running around CRAZY! Administration would be in my room daily attempting to catch him. It was awful and no one could figure out what set him off. 

This was the case almost everyday my first week of school and eventually the running around, harming other students, being 'uncatchable', decreased little by little. After many, many, months, my little friend finally was able to join the rest of my class on our classroom management plan (before he always had his own plans) and be a responsible citizen. He would often stay on green and even get his clip moved up. I am such a proud teacher seeing his growth :) 

Sometimes the most important thing to remember with students who's behavior is difficult to manage is that it's NOT your fault. Have a student with ADHD and they can't sit still, walk around aimlessly, and don't pay attention? It isn't your fault! You have to work with that student for who they are. You half to meet them at where they are and make small steps to improving each day.

My little friend I talked about previously was put on an individual behavior plan where he had a point sheet. I recorded points for him every 15 minutes in 3 categories he needed to work on: keeping his hands to himself, following directions, staying in his seat. He had a goal of earning a specific amount of points a day. If he earned that amount for 3 days then he could get a prize (email me if you ever need one for one of your students).

Eventually we changed the categories after he mastered specific behaviors. Then his point sheet got marked in less time increments until I took him off it and I just monitored his behavior for half of the day. He was able to earn two stickers, one of the morning and one for the afternoon. After he got 5 stickers he would get a prize. I say I monitored but I mean we.. as in me and the student. I would force him to reflect on his behavior and the positives and negatives. He would ultimately decide if he should get the sticker.

After that, I put him on my classroom management plan with the rest of the class. He was successful on it and occasionally would have a bad week once in a while but overall he was great. It was such a success. I'm so proud of him, his mom, and myself for working together to make it work. But this change didn't happen over night, it took time. It took working towards small, manageable goals everyday. After accomplishing all of those goals, we eventually accomplished the big one.. he was able to be successful in an ordinary classroom.

It was a lot of work and there were a lot of bad days. He was only one of the many behavior problems I had! There were several others I could write about but his story is just the most drastic.

What I did to see improvement:
  • Ignore the negative. I would hear so many negative remarks about a few of my students from others and how the students shouldn't even be in my classroom but a self contained class. I wanted to give my students every chance to be in a 'normal' classroom before just giving up on them and making a decision that will effect the rest of their life by placing them in a self contained classroom which they will follow forever. Thats what your students deserve. 
  • I explicitly taught every behavior I wanted my students portray. I taught them how to look at me while I'm talking, how to sit correctly, how to walk in the classroom, and anything else you imagine.. I taught them with lots of modeling.
  • Built relationships with my students. Not just saying Good Morning to them each morning but telling them how you notice certain things about them... like how they must love Clifford since they have read every Clifford book I have. I would make one-on-one time to chat with each of them about their home life, their interests, and anything else they wanted to share. I wanted them to know I truly cared about them. This is important since they are more likely to listen to me since we have a strong relationship. I found the end of the year my student's behavior was pretty close to perfect since they really listened to everything I said and didn't want to disappoint me.
  • I set high expectations and students knew those expectations. I knew what I wanted my class to look like and how I wanted my students to act. I wouldn't compromise on any of those qualities. We were going to be a caring community, they were going to be kind to one another, they were going to act polite, share, and discuss learning with one another. It took a while with lots of modeling but we got there.
  • Consistently. You have to be consistent all the time. This is so hard at times but students need to know the consequences will be there every single time. They can't get away with breaking any rule. 
  • I worked with my students. We would discuses what they thought their consequences should be, why they moved their clip down, how we could make sure it doesn't happen again, and so on. Make sure the students do more talking than you. If they have nothing to say then give them time to think and come back to the issue.
I think those are the big points. If you ever have a behavior problem you don't know how to do with, I'd love to help you. Just email me :)

Like I said I'm not a pro, but I've probably dealt with it in my short time teaching so far. How do you handle behavior problems? Have you had any extreme cases?

ps. If you want to read more about my classroom management system click here or on classroom management under 'Topics' 

30 comments

  1. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences with us. I am so glad you linked up!

    ~Stephanie
    Teaching in Room 6

    ReplyDelete
  2. I agree building relationships is so essential

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