Today’s classroom management tip focuses on what happens before you are in the classroom giving that rock star lesson you have planned. The planning stage is so often overlooked and results in frustration and stress when challenging behaviors occur. However, at this point in the year, you know your students well, and you know what will set them off. By planning you can avoid these antecedents or (if they are unavoidable) have a plan to support and encourage positive behavior when they occur.
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- Those who fail to plan, plan to fail. Think about the child who has been pushing the limits when you plan assignments and lessons, and determine your end goal as you plan. In other words, what do you really need to know about that student’s proficiency? If you are trying to assess computational fluency in two-digit addition, for example, then there is no need to push the kid to complete 20 problems if he is going to begin throwing things and yelling after 10 of them. If your goal is to truly determine what he knows, then plan accordingly. Similarly, if you know a child needs extra support, then start by providing it. Don’t let him or her reach frustration before you step in. Having a plan in place before the student begins engaging in challenging behavior can make it easier to stay calm in the situation. Of course, you don’t use your plan unless the behavior begins, just like I don’t use my fire extinguisher unless there is a fire…but I still keep it in the house, just in case.
- Start right. Plan a few minutes to meet with that one student as he or she begins independent work. Review your expectations one-on-one, answer any questions, and stay with the child while they complete the first one or two. Many times planning this time and working to avoid other interruptions can save a ton of issues later because it ensures the student feels cared for and that they understand the material before they ever begin work.
- Have a backup. Knowing the skill you are trying to teach, you can easily have a backup plan in place for the student who refuses to work on a regular basis. You need a grade on something with fact and opinion, but Jane won’t do it? Let her pick between the assignment everyone else is doing and another one. As we talked about above, our goal is to know she is competent in the skill. Yes, we want compliance, but we already know that is her area to grow. That being said, be sure to document if you give her a different assignment! Write “alternative assignment” at the top of the page, record it in your grade record, write a note to attach…whatever you do to keep track. This will help you immensely come conferences, report cards, and if a referral comes into play for behavior.
There are today’s three tips on planning when you are working on classroom behavior management and supporting children exhibiting challenging behaviors. In this case the ounce of prevention you are taking by planning will save you a ton of frustration later. Many times we get flustered during the year with the impending tests, but by focusing on content and concept mastery, we can help build a child’s stamina and cooperation. Together that will breed success.