Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Solving Tricky or Tough Behaviors in the Classroom

We all have them.  Even after becoming an "experienced" teacher, I still had them.  You know what I'm talking about...those tricky and tough behaviors that you just can't quite figure out how to get a handle on.  As classroom teachers we are so immersed in our students, their learning, and their lives that it can be tricky to pinpoint what is causing the behavior and how to help the student develop more effective strategies to deal with what is triggering the behavior.  Here are some suggestions and strategies based on my fifteen years in the classroom...

 First of all, it's important to take a step back and observe.  This can be really tough.  Especially in the moment.  Take a step back and think about the behaviors like you would if the child were struggling with reading or writing, for example.  What do we do?  We gather DATA!!!  Yes, data!!!  How?  By using anecdotal notes and what I call an ABC form.  ABC stands for Antecedent, Behavior, and Consequence.  Here is an ABC form that is part of my ABCs of Behavior Resource Pack for sale in my TpT shop.


Antecedent...  What seems to be the trigger for the behavior?  What happened right before the behavior occurred?  What is causing the behavior?  These are all questions to ask yourself to determine the antecedent.  Was it because your or someone else placed a demand on the student?  For example, "Put away your backpack" or "Clean-up your math station".  Sometimes it can be a transition from one activity to another.  Often behaviors are a result of peer interaction.  The student was told he or she can't join a group of peers or someone said something unkind.  Sometimes we have absolutely no idea what caused the behavior.  That's okay too!  Just highlight your best guess.

Behavior...  What is the student doing?  What is the behavior or behaviors?  Grab a highlighter and highlight what you are observing.  Blurting out, yelling, refusing to comply, wandering (the runners), using inappropriate language, or being physical (hitting, kicking, shoving, biting, etc...) are all common behaviors.  For behaviors that don't fit into these categories, highlight other and write in the behaviors.

Consequence...  What is the consequence for the behavior?  One of the most important things we can do as teachers is to make sure that the consequence fits the behavior.  All too often it's recess that is taken away.  I know.  I get it.  I've been there and done that too.  Way too many times to count.  What I've learned is to take a deep breath and think about what consequence fits the behavior.  If I can't come up with it at that moment I calmly tell the student to have a seat and I'll be there in a couple minutes to discuss the consequence.  This shows our students that it's okay to take a minute, calm down, and make a better decision.  I've listed some common consequences I used successfully in my classroom but also understand that every classroom and school is different.  That's what the "other" spot is for.  Tip... if it's a common consequence write it in before making copies of the forms.  :)  Can't tell I've made that mistake often, can you?  :)

Anecdotal Notes:  These are nice to have for smaller, less-disruptive behaviors and for tracking work habits, time on or off task, cooperative work skills, and many others.  I've included some fun forms in my pack.  Anecdotal notes also help you to figure out how often behaviors are happening.  If you have a whole sheet of time off task, it's time to target that behavior.

What to do now?  You have the data, now what?  It's time to pick one behavior to target.  It's important that it's only one.  This can be hard to do but hopefully with your ABC forms in front of you and some anecdotal notes you can see what behavior needs to be targeted.  When there's so many you can't even see straight, (yes, I've had those years too) try and pick the one that will give you the "biggest bang for your buck" so to speak.  If you are struggling to figure this out, ask a colleague to pop in and observe.  Tell them what you are looking for and some fresh eyes should help.

Use your incentive system you already have in place or create one specifically for the student.  I loved using Mrs. Mabe's Behavior Catalog and Reward Coupons for Rewarding Awesome Behavior.  My students loved it too.  Best part about it?  It requires very little money so you won't be buying little rewards all the time.  You can get it on TpT from her store here.

Make sure the goal is attainable (not 16 stars in a morning), feedback is frequent, and that the student buys into it.  It has to be motivating for them.  I have included some simple reward/incentive charts in my behavior resource pack.  You know your students, what they love, and what motivates them.  Use that knowledge to help them make better behavior choices.

Reflect:  Students need time to reflect on their behavior choices.  It is through reflection and then discussion afterwards that changes can occur in behavior.  Below is a picture of the two behavior reflection forms I used all 15 years I was in the classroom.  The one with the boxes provides room for younger students to draw pictures of their behavior choices.  The one with the lines provides room for older students to write about what happened.  There is a line for a parent signature on both forms.  I didn't always send the form home.  It depended on the severity of the behavior and whether the student used the reflection to change their behavior and turn their day around.  This is one of my best-sellers in my TpT store and I have included it in my behavior resource pack.  You can purchase the reflection forms separately if you don't wish to purchase the whole resource pack.  Best part... the reflection forms are newly updated and now come in color and black and white.  You can see them here.

I know this post got a bit long, but I didn't want to leave anything out.  :)  If you are interested in purchasing my ABCs of Behavior Resource Pack it is available here in my TpT store.  I hope this helps.  Any questions or anything not clear?  Leave me a comment or email me @


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