Saturday, September 26, 2015

7 Steps to Positive Behavior Management

I will quote myself from a previous post...


"Gone are the "good ol' days", our kids now have standardized tests, persuasive writing, and sight words ad nauseum. I constantly see news segments and articles about the loss of recess, the stress on our kids and the lack of social-emotional lessons in the classroom. It is OUR job as teachers to sneak these things back in our daily routine.

Teachers are under so much pressure...but I don't need to tell you that. There is no need to list out all our stressors. I know all my readers are well aware. We are SUPERHEROES! Since we wear invisible capes, we can not only meet the academic, curricular and administrative needs, we can also meet the social-emotional needs of our students as well.  The good news is, with today's resources and technology, it's not as hard as you might think."


Each child is different. Each child is special, and each child has special individualized needs. There is no cookie cutter child. Let me say that again, THERE IS NO COOKIE CUTTER CHILD. This isn't your Mama's classroom, Homie. It's okay if you have a child who doesn't fit the mold or has different needs from the rest of your class. Your main objective is making sure EVERY child can learn, no matter their behavior.

So, how do you accommodate that special child's behavioral needs?! It is important to be firm and loving at the same time. The even balance can be hard at times, but if you stick with it....I promise the results will bring tears to your eyes.

I participated in a Georgia State University doctoral study for Positive Behavior Tactics and I learned a lot. Below are some suggestions. These are ideas I have implemented in my classroom and have proven to work.



1. Classroom Rules:
Make sure your classroom rules are developmentally appropriate. I have three rules. The rules are called the “We Care” rules: 1. Take care of yourself 2. Take care of others 3. Take care of our things. Keep it basic and black and white. Four-year-olds don’t understand the gray area. Every single rule falls under those three categories. Have the discussion with your class. “What does it mean to take care of yourself? How can you take care of yourselves?” Make sure your students understand your expectations and stick to them! Don’t let the rules change with your daily changing moods. If your children understand the rules and WHY we have the rules (“to keep you safe”) then they will WANT to follow them. Yes, I said WANT! Download my "We Can Rules"
(click image below)



2. Be Positive!
This one is so important.
“..Verbally acknowledge a child following a rule four times for every one time you remind a child who is not following a classroom rule.”
Look for the positive behaviors in your classroom, instead of constantly looking for the children who are not following the rules. For example, your students are sitting on the carpet listening to a story. You notice (or hear) a couple of students not doing what they are supposed to. Instead of saying “Bobby, you are not sitting crisscross applesauce!” You need to find that student who is sitting properly and say with extreme excitement, “Oh my goodness, I LOVE how Mickey is sitting SO still and quiet…WOW I am super impressed!” Quickly you will notice all the children check how they are sitting and self-correct.

3. Don’t give empty threats.
Don’t make any promises you can’t keep! “If you hit your friend one more time, you are going to the office!” Don’t say it unless you are going to follow through. Doing this is a quick way to teach your students that you are a push over and you don’t mean what you say.

4. Be proactive.
Plan for bad behavior. I have learned that ALL is possible. If you have a child who has a hard time sitting and paying attention on the carpet, give them an active job to do during carpet time. One year I had a child who wanted all the attention on them. So, I let that child be our DJ. Every time we played a song, that child’s job was to press play. He felt a sense of responsibility and he took his job very seriously. If you know that two children might not get along, don’t sit them by each other. 

Use a picture schedule that the students can manipulate as the day goes on. Make sure you incorporate bathroom breaks and brain breaks into your picture schedule as well. It helps children behave when they know what to expect each day. On days that we have an assembly or other schedule changes, we sit down during our morning meeting and change the schedule to fit that day. I used Cara Carroll's FREE picture cards. There are 100+ cards! JACKPOT! Download them by clicking image below.



5. Teach students social problem-solving skills.
Teach your children how to solve their own problems. In my classroom, I have a poster with problem-solving ideas. Teach them what they can do when a friend takes a toy. Teach them to stand up for themselves and use their words instead of their hands to communicate. Vanderbilt's Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning has TONS of resources for primary aged children. Check their website out by clicking image below.



My favorite resource is the problem-solving cue cards. If you introduce these as a lesson, model the behaviors listed and use teachable moments to reinforce, your students will be problem solving independently in no time! Click the image to download!
6. Hold your students accountable.
Remember to try and stay as positive as possible. Give them an incentive so they WANT to behave. I like to use whole group behavior rewards. There are tons of ideas on Pinterest. Here are some of my favorites that have shown success in my classroom: (Images are linked to their creators for further reading and explanation)

I love the ten frame concept!

I use this but cookies, when it's full we get a cookie party!

My kids LOVE this one!



It's also important to keep track of behavior daily and communicate classroom behavior with parents. When I first started teaching at my school, teachers had the old fashioned traffic light. I love the updated version that allows students to move up. It really helps me focus on positive behavior throughout the day. It is my personal goal as a teacher to get every student to pink at least once. Here are superhero themed ones I made and use this year in my classroom. Don't forget the communication calendars to go with it! The students LOVE it! 

https://www.etsy.com/listing/193950779/superhero-classroom-behavior-clip-chart?ref=shop_home_active_5


7. Get to know your students. TALK TO THEM!
This one is most important. Get to know the families and the students. There is no such thing as a “bad child”. Children misbehave because they are reacting to certain situations in their life. "The kids who need the most love will ask for it in the most unloving ways" (I have this framed by my desk). Change, stress, lack of sleep, and more can lead to bad choices in the classroom. Perhaps they have been conditioned to behave this way. Your job is to teach them how to act in social situations. They may be able to act that way at home, but if they are going to succeed in the social world, they need to learn what is socially acceptable, and what is not. I tell every student that I love them and I care about them. Most people (adult and children) just need to know someone cares.

Don't let the stress and paperwork of teaching let you forget the reason you went into teaching...the kids! Our kids need social/emotional lessons like never before. Don't let these important life skills take a back seat in your classroom. Don't forget, you are shaping the future. Go get em! 

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