5 behavior management strategies for students with behavior challenges.
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5 Behavior Management Strategies for Students With Challenges

Do you work with K-12 students on a daily basis?

In addition to teachers, this group also includes instructors tasked with providing support outside of the classroom. It’s comprised of school counselors and psychologists, as well as special education directors and behavior interventionists.

All of these educators will encounter myriad different types of learners during a typical workday. Some will be more challenging than others. These students require the implementation of behavior management strategies designed to make the academic experience as successful as possible.

Today, we’re sharing seven research-based strategies to consider as you determine the best way to approach this group of students. Read on to learn the proven techniques that can make a major difference for all parties involved.

1. Autonomous Choice-Making

In one analysis, researchers investigated how introducing choice-making into the curriculum could help elementary students with emotional and behavioral challenges stay on task.

In the study, researchers gave two students menus of academic tasks that aligned with their educational objectives. Then, they gave them the autonomy to choose which tasks they wanted to work on.

After conducting a reverse design, the researchers determined that both students stayed on task. They also showed less disruptive behavior when allowed to participate in the choice-making process.

2. Improved Rule Perception

A root cause of some behavioral issues is a misunderstanding or miscommunication of school rules. Guided by this theory, researchers examined the effectiveness of bridging that perception gap and its effect on the students’ conduct.

For 36 weeks, they monitored 10 middle school students receiving special education for emotional disturbance. They asked both the students and their teachers to use similar assessment tools to record how well each student complied with five classroom behavior rules.

In weekly, student-led conferences, the students and teachers shared their reports. This was an opportune time to discuss how each party understood the rules. It was also an opportunity for students, teachers and social workers to dive deeply into each student’s progress. During this time they set individual goals and developed custom interventions.

As a result, the students demonstrated significant behavioral improvements. In addition, nine out of 10 students showed a significant decline in teacher-generated disciplinary referrals.

3. School-Wide Support for Positive Behavior

While individual student interventions can work, two researchers suggest that incorporating a school-wide approach in tandem with those mediations can be more effective.

In this study, which included data from 600 other school discipline studies, suggest against strict exclusion and punishment. Instead, they focused on the three pillars they believed were most effective against disciplinary issues:

  • Social skills training
  • Academic restructuring
  • Behavioral interventions

Their theory? Schools should establish a school culture that is predictable, positive, safe and consistent. When educators acknowledge positive behavior and attach specific consequences to problem behavior, individual interventions are more productive.

The researchers explained that when schools punished problem behaviors without a proactive support system in place, it only exacerbated those tendencies. This led to increases in:

  • Aggression
  • Vandalism
  • Truancy
  • School drop-outs

The study includes citations from multiple area elementary, middle and high schools that implemented the approach. Nearly all of them saw reductions in office discipline referrals in response to the program.

4. Proactive, Effective Commands

In another recent study, researchers interviewed 19 pre-service teachers in an urban elementary school system.

Using qualitative methods, they analyzed data collected during the interviews. They also accessed information gleaned from the teachers’ supervisory reports.

The researchers concluded that most educators used rules and routines for general classroom management. However, they failed to implement similar structures around discipline.

They found that the teachers who enacted positive and proactive behavioral management strategies were ultimately more in control of their classroom than those who took a negative or reactive approach. They were also better-positioned to guide their students toward improved behavior and academic achievement.

As a takeaway, the researchers suggested that teachers and their supporters look at the guidelines and restrictions they’ve already set for their classrooms. Then, they should strategize how those could translate into preventative, proactive behavioral controls.

5. Physical Classroom Rearrangement

Another strategy to explore is that of physical classroom rearrangement. One study explored this concept in full. Here, researchers explained that the way a classroom is set up can help prevent behavioral issues.

How? It can help ensure that students are close to the resources they need to learn.

By establishing certain routines, teachers and their supporters can maximize instructional time and create a more predictable environment. A few of the suggested strategies include:

  • Designating shelf space for certain supplies, books, and assignments
  • Developing procedures for borrowing materials
  • Allowing students to distribute materials to their classmates on a rotating basis

Strategic Seating Arrangements

The researchers also suggested strategically placing children in designated seating arrangements. They explained that students requiring the most teacher attention should be seated in the front of the room.

Rather than sticking strictly to the typical classroom setup, they advised mixing the rows. This way, well-behaved and attentive children who usually sit in the front of the room can sit in closer proximity to students who gravitate toward the back or sides of the room. In this capacity, they can serve as role models and provide peer assistance as needed.

Finally, the researchers posed a few questions to help teachers determine an ideal classroom arrangement. These include:

  • How easily can students move about the room?
  • Are students’ desks located close together or far apart?
  • Are there any environmental stimuli that could distract students?

Discover Behavior Management Strategies That Work

Managing student behavior can be a full-time job for any educator. Thankfully, these strategies and others can offer relief and a way forward for everyone involved. They’re especially beneficial for teachers and supporters who deal with challenging students on a daily basis.

Want to discover more behavior management strategies? We encourage you to schedule a 30-minute online personal demonstration of our software application. With this resource, you can create legally-defensible behavior intervention plans in under an hour.

In the meantime, don’t forget to sign up for our free monthly Managing Student Behavior series via this link!

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