Different approaches for different behaviors
Depending on how your students are behaving, certain teaching strategies are more effective than others at maintaining those behaviors, motivating behaviors they are not exhibiting, and stopping undesirable or disruptive behaviors.
These strategies can be quite effective with kids of all ages. Please note that they are not interchangeable.
These strategies are most effective when your students are behaving cooperatively and are on task.
Intervention Strategy: Positive Reinforcement/ Recognition
Goal: Maintaining existing behavior, improving the likelihood of behavior recurring on its own
Process: Two-step process: 1. Describe the positive behavior 2. Connect their cooperation to a meaningful positive outcome (positive consequence)
Caution: Avoid praise that con- nects behavior to worth. “I really like you when…” “You’re good because…”
Caution: Avoid praise that rein- forces dependence on approval: “I like the way…”
These strategies are most effective for dealing with non-productive, non-disruptive student behaviors, as ways to encourage them to settle down, get moving, get on task, or do something else you want them to do.
Intervention Strategy: Motivation, Contingency Contracting, Offering Choices
Goal: Encouraging more cooperative, more productive behavioral choices. Building commitment and making responsible choices for their own work and behavior.
Process: Connecting what you want to what the student behavior wants. Making productive, cooperative behavior more desirable for the student.
Caution: Motivators must be need fulfilling to be effective. This will vary from student to student. Motivators must also appear accessible (immediate enough) to have incentive.
Caution: Avoid using conditional approval as a motivator.
Caution: Avoid depending on your students’ fear of your anger or power or fear of punishment to motivate their cooperation.
These strategies work best when students are exhibiting negative or disruptive behaviors.
Intervention Strategy: Follow through. Loss of privilege (access to positive consequence). A new boundary may be necessary. Letting student know how to regain privilege and when that will be possible.
Goal: Stopping negative behavior. Replacing negative behavior with cooperative, non-disruptive behavior.
Process: Might include: removing or delaying access to positive consequence or incentive; asking student to stop, change behavior (being specific about desirable behavior you’re seeking); presenting an acceptable alternative; using “promises” (rather than threats) to set a new contingency. Might also include suggesting that an upset student change environments for a few minutes (get a drink of water, for example, or move to a different part of the room). Might also include validating a student’s distress and making time to talk through the problem or crisis.
Caution: Once limits have been violated, follow through immediately.
Caution: Avoid warnings or reminders after the fact. Do not ask for excuses. Instead, ask what the student plans to do to correct the situation.
Caution: Avoid punishing, moralizing, giving advice or solutions, making excuses, or taking responsibility for the student’s problem.
Caution: Avoid reacting, taking misbehavior personally. Also avoid negative, non-supportive comments and responses.
Caution: Avoid making the student wrong; accepting the student, not the behavior.
Different objectives for student behaviors require different approaches and teacher behaviors, which are generally not interchangeable. For example, trying to motivate one student by praising another is generally ineffective, even dangerous, as it communicates conditional approval and acceptance of one student in order to get another student to cooperate.
Strategies for POSITIVE behavior offer a constructive ways to help students connect the positive choices they make with the positive outcomes they experience. These outcomes need to be personally meaningful and valuable to the students.
Strategies for NEUTRAL behavior offer effective ways to motivate or engage positive behavior by connecting a potentially available positive outcome for positive behavior choices. Again, the outcomes need to have meaning for the students.
Strategies for NEGATIVE behavior offer non-punitive interventions that are unlikely to compromise the emotional climate of the classroom—for the misbehaving student(s) as well as those that are cooperative and on task. These strategies will work best if you have created a lot of positive outcomes, choices, and accommodations that are contingent on cooperative behavior—before the misbehavior occurs.
Book: The Win-Win Classroom: A Fresh and Positive Look at Instruction & Classroom Management
Book: The Beginning Teacher’s Survival Guide: Win-Win Strategies for Success
Book: Managing 21st Century Classrooms: How do I Avoid Ineffective Classroom Management Practices?
The Discipline Trap: Catching up to the 21st Century
The Challenge of Setting Boundaries
The Problem with Zero Tolerance and Push-Out Strategies
Rules and Boundaries
What’s so Hard About Win-Win?
It’s Only Disrespect if I Think it’s Disrespect
5 Characteristics of a Good Boundary
Guidelines for Offering Choices to Students
Guidelines for Reinforcing Positive Student Behavior
Motivating Cooperative Behavior
Motivation vs. Manipulation
Improving Student Behavior through Positive School Climate
10 Characteristics of Healthy Adult-Child Relationships
“Magic” Sentences for Effective Communication
What’s Wrong with I-Messages?
Dealing Successfully with Your Students’ Parents
© 1990, 2012, 2022, Dr. Jane Bluestein
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