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.
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 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 envelope 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 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.
Creating a classroom “community” that has clear rules and expectations is a positive approach to a successful classroom. This classroom needs to be a place where ALL students feel secure, nurtured and supported by their peers and teacher.
Responsive Classroom Morning Meeting is an engaging way to start each day while building a strong sense of community in the classroom. Morning Meeting sets students up for success socially and academically by gathering together in a circle for 20 minutes and interacting with one another.
Student and teachers greet one another by name and practice offering hospitality.
Students share information about important events in their lives. Listeners offer empathetic comments or ask questions.
3) Group Activity
All students participate to foster group team work. This helps students practice social and academic skills.
Students read and interact with a short message written by the teacher.
Classroom behavior charts are a valuable tool to help maintain discipline, establish rules and consequences and be consistent with them. The classroom rules and expectations pertain to every student in the classroom and they are held accountable to following them. The key to success with behavior charts is being consistent and following through with consequences.
1) Clip-It Chart
This behavior system is based off of the PBIS (Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports) model but with a fun twist!
Students have a general education homeroom where they spend most of their day besides their core academic time. My students come to my classroom 3 different times a day for direct instruction in language arts, math and reading support. Each time the students come to my room they start their individually named clips on green “Ready to Learn.” Throughout the lesson the students have a chance to move up for making “good” choices or movie down for making “bad” choices.
This has been a great proactive motivational tool that I designed for my classroom. It is also a fabulous transition tool for my students. Once a student completes an activity then he/she gets to move up their clip and move onto the next activity. I am able to ask each student after the activities which way they need to move their clip – they are able to reflect on their behavior and move their clip accordingly.
Clip-It Face Stickers – The “good” choice behavior colors have face stickers that reflect how many stickers that student earns at the end of the lesson. When the student keeps making good choices they earn more face stickers.
Green “Ready to Learn” – No face stickers
Dark Blue ” Good Choice” – 1 face
Purple “Great Choice” – 3 faces
Light Blue “Outstanding” – 4 faces
Sticker Chart – The stickers from the Behavior Clip-It Chart are transferred to each student’s individual sticker chart. Once the student earns 20 stickers they turn in the sticker chart for the Treasure Chest!
2) Green, Yellow, Red Chart
The green, yellow, red behavior chart was for my self-contained classroom. This “stop light” approach linked with the visual faces of happy, okay and sad was a great visual reinforce for my students.
All students started out on the color green but if a student was not: following directions, paying attention, sitting in their seat or follow the rules they moved down to yellow. If the student continues these negative behaviors or displays physical behaviors then they move down to red. Students are able to correct their behavior and move back up the chart just as easily.
The green, yellow, red chart was directly correlated with the reward of a 10 minute free time in the morning and then starting over in the afternoon to earn the reward of a 10 minute free time at the end of the day.
Green = 10 minutes to play
Yellow = 5 minutes of play
Red = 0 minutes of play and/or finishing uncompleted work
Positive reinforcement are proactive behavior interventions designed to control and eliminate problem behaviors while emphasizing the positive behaviors. This creates an environment by eliminating negative behaviors.
1) Social Reinforcement
Social reinforcement is the most common and naturally occurring reinforce that students encounter every day.
– Verbal praise
– Phone calls/notes home
– Telling the principal something positive
2) Activity Reinforcement
Activity reinforcement allows students to participate in preferred
activities as a reward.
– Classroom Coupons
3) Tangible Reinforcement
This reinforcement is access to a preferred object.
4) Token Economy
This is a system that allows the students to earn some type of token that can be exchanged later for a specific type of reinforcement.