Friday, June 13, 2014

Behavior Management

...manage behavior.

Let me start by saying something that I think teachers need to hear more often when it comes to lots of things, but particularly behavior management. THERE IS NO SILVER BULLET. Personally, I believe that almost any system you use is probably fine. Different approaches work for different teachers, just like different approaches work for different students. 
I don't have any flashy pictures of behavior management displays because I just have a class list on a clipboard.   I do not like the idea of publicly displaying record of student behavior.  I record checks/strikes next to a student's name, if they get 3 strikes, they need to be separated from the rest of the class for a few minutes and take home a note to be signed. In my building we keep this limited to 5 minutes. If the behavior continues when they return, they go to a buddy room for 5 minutes. If the behavior continues, then I notify administration. A week with less than 2 strikes earns a student a prize on Friday. This plan is really just a skeleton, and it provides on going documentation.  It gives me the opportunity to set goals with students and makes it easy for another teacher to step into my classroom. If it isn't working for a child, then obviously they need an alternative plan. I wrote about dealing with difficult behaviors a few weeks ago.

Something I want to share with you today is a book I would strongly suggest for managing student behavior.  The book is Teaching with Love and Logic. I credit this book with saving my teaching career. The number one concept from this book that helped me was the concept of empathy. When I'm implementing a consequence for a behavior, I do it with empathy rather than anger. I make sure the student sees that I am very sad for them. If you want to learn a little more about Love and Logic, here are some free articles for educators. Parenting with Love and Logic is also excellent, and I recommend it to parents if they express frustration.

A few other quick tips for behavior management:

1. Never ask a child why they did something. 

One time I heard a youth director at church explaining to the youth how to speak to adults in a respectful way if they felt they were being treated unfairly. She told them "why" questions are always attacking. After thinking about this I realized it was pretty true. Now I try to use phrases like, "tell me about...." "what made you decide to..."

Baxter Community Center Playground Novem by stevendepolo, on Flickr

2. Practice, practice, practice. 

It's often helpful to practice a procedure you want students to master, but practicing is also a logical consequence for inappropriate behavior. For example, if I see a student misusing the slide at recess, I tell them it looks like they need some practice using the slide correctly. We discuss what that would look like, then I have the student practice using the slide correctly a number of times. You would think this would be fun, but trust me, they have the saddest little faces when they are "practicing" going down the slide.


3. Build relationships! 
Parents and students need to feel confident that you like them. Ideally, I would make a positive phone call home to every parent within the first few weeks of school. It's really difficult to make this happen, so I select kids I suspect will be a challenge, and make sure to make a positive phone call very early on. With less challenging students a little good day note or positive email is a good idea.  If your students like you, they will work harder for you and make your life so much easier!
Thanks for stopping by! Please visit they linky party hosted by Laura at Where the Magic Happens and read how other teachers manage behavior.
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