In developing a positive learning environment, a teacher needs to base their classroom management foundation off of the following two concepts: individualized behavior management and whole classroom management. Together these two concepts create an effective discipline in the classroom.
1) Individualized Behavior Management
In special education classrooms, students display many different types of behaviors such as ADHD, Autism/Cognitively Impaired, and Social Emotional and Behavioral Disorders. Developing positive interventions, strategies and plans enables each unique student become successful within the classroom.
ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
ADHD is one of the most common behavior disorders in schools today. Inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity are a variety of disruptive classroom behaviors that lead students to become disruptive in the classroom. Students with ADHD often get in trouble for acting on their impulses. There is no one intervention that will improve the classroom functioning and should be individually tailored to each students needs.
1) Task Duration
The duration of tasks is an effective strategy to accommodate students’ short attention span. Longer projects should be broken up into manageable parts. Short time limits for task completion should be specified and can be enforced with timers.
A fidget is a small object (preferably one that fits in the student’s hand), that can be squeezed, pulled, or moved around as the student sits and listens to the teacher. It is important to set clear boundaries regarding the use of fidgets in the classroom. If the fidget becomes a distract, it will be taken away.
– Koosh Ball
– Hand exerciser/Stress Balls
– Silly Putty, Play-Doh, or Clay
3) Peer Tutoring
Peer tutoring is a strategy that provides many of the instructional variables known to be important in setting up ADHD students with success. Peer tutoring provides frequent and immediate feedback and allows the student to engage with their peer for academic support.
Scheduling plays an important role in productivity during the school day. On-Task behavior of students with ADHD progressively worsens over the course of the day and therefore academic instruction and problem-solving skills should be provided in the morning and more nonacademic activities scheduled in the afternoon. This allows students to stay focused and engaged during academic instruction.
Structure and routine are essential for students with ADHD. This provides the student with a sense of control about jobs during school and expectations of behaviors in each setting.
6) Reminders and Visual Cues
Rules given to students with ADHD should be well defined, specific and frequently reinforced throughout the year. Well-defined rules with clear consequences are essential. Visual reminders and cues should be put into placed around the classroom/school help aide the student of subtle reminders of expectations.
7) Productive Physical Movement
Students with ADHD have a difficult time sitting still and paying attention. Integrating productive physical movement opportunities allow the student to engage in learning through hands-on activities and movement.
Students with ADHD require immediate and frequent reinforcement to improve performance and on-task work in the classroom. They key to reinforcement is being consistent. Both positive and negative consequences are essential and should be implemented and followed through consistently. It is important to give lots of encouragement, praise and affection as these kids are easily discouraged. As this is the case, incentives should first be developed to reinforce desired behavior.
Autism and Cognitive Impairments are becoming more common in schools and require numerous supports and interventions put into place to provide a positive learning environment. Enforcing routines, structure and visual schedules help to provide a comfortable learning atmosphere.
Structure and routine within the classroom is critically important for students with autism or cognitive impairments. The environment needs to be predictable and consistent to eliminate anxiety and behaviors.
Schedules are a visual way for students with Autism and Cognitive Impairments to understand their expectations at school. Schedules are extremely beneficial for these students since their receptive and expressive language very low. The schedule also helps with transitions from one activity to another, which can be difficult for students. The student is able to visually see what is going to happen throughout their day and what activities come next. This reduces anxiety and behaviors.
– The Picture wall schedule: The picture wall schedule is a schedule in the order of events that they take place throughout the day. The student takes off the picture, walk to the designated location, match the picture on the table and does the work at the center. When the student is finished, they put the picture in the finished envelope and return to the picture wall schedule to see what is next.
– The Binder picture schedule: The binder picture schedule is appropriate for elementary and middle school students. It takes up less room and lends itself way easier for inclusion because the student can bring their schedule with them. The binder has a visual schedule with a finished envelop pocket on the back of the binder. Once each task is completed the student can put the finished visual into the envelop and continue to the next task.
Students with Autism or Cognitive Impairments struggle with expressive and receptive language abilities. Visuals are an essential tool to help the students understand their environment and express their wants and needs. Behavioral visuals need to have some type of reinforce visual for each student.
– The Visual Choice Board: Student can pick an item to work towards as a motivation. Since these students have very low verbal abilities, they benefit form this intervention. This intervention is a motivational tool in the classroom to complete a teacher based task for a desired task.
4) Social Stories
Social Stories are individualized short stories designed to help remind students about appropriate social behavior by providing examples of appropriate behavior responses. Social stories reduce problem behavior and increase pro-social behavior in students with Autism and Cognitive Impairments. Social stories use picture cues along with words to support visual learning strategies to help explain confusing situations and diffuse anxiety and problem behavior.
Emotional Behavioral Disorders
Emotional and Behavioral Disorders are one of the more challenging behaviors to manage because they are usually the root an underlying issue in the student’s life. Providing a safe consistent environment is the key to a successful classroom.
1) Explore Student’s Strengths
Taking an invested interest in the student and learning about their strengths, skills, interests and talents enables you to make a stronger connection with the student. Adapting instruction by incorporating their strengths into the lessons create opportunities for student motivation and success.
2) Clear Expectations
Provide a solid classroom management structure by which both the teacher and student can address the rules, inappropriate behavior and understood consequences. Keep class rules simple and clear and reinforce them often.
3) Reward Positive Behaviors
Rewarding students for positive behavior is more effective because Emotional and Behavior Disorder students take any discipline as a personal attack towards them. Celebrating the all of their successes, whether big or small, to help them view themselves as proud and successful of their accomplishments. These students that receive positive feedback and rewards start to see that there is a positive benefit to good behavior.