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Behavior Management: Addressing Disproportionality in K-12 Schools
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Behavior Management: Addressing Disproportionality in K-12 Schools

Disruptive behaviors have rapidly increased in K-12 schools, especially in elementary schools. From tantrums to bullying, there has been an increase in several different kinds of rambunctious behavior patterns.

Schools have had a hard time keeping up with so many behavioral issues, and this tends to cause disproportionality over time. Schools need disproportionality behavior intervention plans.

If you’re interested in learning more about behavior management and addressing disproportionality in K-12 schools, keep reading. We have the best tips for addressing behavior management in your school as well as a discussion about disproportionality.

Behavior Management in K-12 Schools

There are several strategies that K-12 staff can try to get behavioral issues under control. Different tactics will work differently between different age groups and different individual needs. For example, you wouldn’t discipline a 5-year-old with autism the same as you would discipline a 16-year-old with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.

As any good educator would, you should try several tactics and figure out which one(s) are the best for students’ individual cases.

1. Saying Hello

Class sizes have made greetings much more generalized. Typically, an educator would start off his or her class by saying, “Hello everyone,” or something similar.

These generalized statements aren’t bad. However, individualized greetings are always better.

As your students walk into the classroom, you should make sure to greet them individually. Depending on the student and his or her interests, this could look very different. For example, you may ask one how their basketball game last night went after asking another one if they’re looking forward to their band concert next week.

By taking an individualized interest in each student, you’ll be more respected and you’ll see fewer behavioral issues. Your students will feel valued by you. With this alone, you could see major behavioral changes.

2. Behavioral Cues

Most people are familiar with the look that a teacher gives when a student misbehaves. This look is known as a nonverbal behavioral cue.

Typically, students who receive this cue will quickly fix whatever they’re doing incorrectly. That is if they know what they’re doing wrong.

Nonverbal cues like clearing your throat or giving a look can help with students who are aware of what they’re doing. This does not work on every student, and you shouldn’t assume that your students know what you mean when you give these kinds of cues.

With this, you should also be careful when giving verbal cues. You don’t want to call your students out in front of their peers, but you should make sure to nip any behavioral issues in the bud quickly.

Verbal cues come in many forms. Here are just a few ideas for handling disruptive situations by verbal means:

  • Pull the student aside from the rest of the group. You can have a personal conversation by doing this.
  • Ask the student what they should be doing currently if they’re doing something off track from the rest of the class.
  • Stop by the student’s desk and ask them if you can help. They may be having trouble with the current task.

These and other verbal cues may be better if you have students who don’t respond to or don’t fully understand nonverbal cues.

3. Taking Note

You may note that disrespectful or distracting students make behavioral changes over time. If you notice that they are becoming more respectful, you should take note of that and praise them. This shows your students that you care.

Students thrive on positive reinforcement. If you take the time to let your students know that you’re noticing their behavioral changes, they’re more likely to continue on with those changes rather than revert to their normal.

You can simply pull the student aside and ask them if they’re enjoying something new or like the subject that you’re currently covering. By finding out why they may have changed, you can better yourself as an educator.

For younger children, you may want to offer incentives for good behavior. Just be sure that you have a level playing field for children of all capabilities. Don’t set the bar unnecessarily high.

4. Time-Outs

Time-outs are not just for younger children. They are good for students of all ages and grade levels. However, these time-outs will look different for different students.

Time-outs are preferable to other forms of punishment because they teach students to “time-out” in real-life situations. We don’t want to teach children to put themselves into a corner. However, we should let them know that it’s okay to walk away from an argument or another stressful situation if they need to.

Many educators have put their time and resources towards teaching their students mindfulness practices. These include meditation, yoga, nasal breathing, and more.

Several research studies have shown that mindfulness practices improve self-awareness and emotional regulation in students of all ages. Many confirm that you can teach younger children these strategies. They are not just isolated to helping older children.

5. Checking In

Every educator should have a method of checking in with their students regularly. This reinforces the fact that you care about your students while also making sure that you’re praising good behaviors.

Usually, teachers conduct check-ins at parent-teacher meetings or similar gatherings. We urge you to conduct teacher-student meetings, even if only halfway through the semester.

You should pull your students aside and ask them how they’re doing. Make sure to ask if there are any ways that you can help them.

While conducting these meetings, you should make sure that you’re understanding and taking into account every student’s individual situation. Students’ situations can affect their behavior.

You can take the moment that you’re using to check-in as a way to ask about their family life. You should also ask about how other classes are going or how they’re doing in their extracurricular activities or other interests.

If a child does come to you concerned about another class, you can take the opportunity to speak with the other educator about their performance. You may be able to help them with these other areas.

Addressing Disproportionality in K-12 Schools

The term “disproportionality” is used to describe things that are unequal or disproportionate. In schools, disproportionality refers to the unequal discipline of students. Specifically, it refers to the unequal discipline of Black students and disabled students.

Several studies have shown that Black students and disabled students are disciplined disproportionately more than non-Black students and non-disabled students. The reasons why are more complicated than you may think.

On the Disproportionate Treatment of Black Students

Several studies reveal that Black students are convicted more often than non-Black students are convicted. In fact, Black students are convicted of crimes that non-Black students commit more often. The truth is that Black students are seen as more disrespectful or disruptive than non-Black students.

The root cause is systemic racism. Even if a teacher or another educator doesn’t realize it, they’re being influenced by years and years of unfair treatment.

For centuries, Black people have been portrayed as criminals even though their non-Black counterparts are committing the same crimes. The majority of the time, non-Blacks are committing twice the crimes with half the repercussions.

This is something that educators need to be educated about. Teachers and other educators need to make sure that they’re disciplining their students equally and rightfully. Every student should be disciplined as their counterparts have for the same infraction.

On the Disproportionate Treatment of Disabled Students

Disabled students are disproportionately disciplined as well. Many educators don’t understand how and when to discipline disabled children.

The biggest issue is that the majority of teachers don’t understand many disabilities and how to identify them. In fact, many children go through several grades in school before their disability is even identified.

It’s difficult for teachers to understand when to discipline a child with attention deficit disorder or how to discipline a child with autism. The best thing that any educator can do is educate themselves.

6.2% of children between ages 5 and 15 have a disability. The first thing to do is to identify these children. Some schools have mandatory testing for their students every few years.

On top of regular testing, teachers should understand how to spot signs of different disabilities. This includes mental disabilities, emotional disabilities, and even physical disabilities.

The sooner that educators can spot these, the sooner the child can get the help they need. After spotting the disability, your team of educators can work on understanding and carrying out proper discipline.

Disproportionality Behavior Intervention Plans

Addressing the rise in disrespectful and distracting student interactions is important for educators and other students. If poor behavior isn’t addressed properly, it could spiral out of control and leave the student without proper direction.

If you’re a school counselor, special education director, school psychologist, or behavior interventionist, you should look into our free monthly managing student behavior series. If you’re a director of special education, schedule a 30-minute online, personal demo of our software.

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