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Monday, August 6, 2012

Let's Talk Strategies

The first thing that teachers need to understand about classroom management is that we set the classroom up in a way that promotes respect, safety and learning.   Organization, setting routines and procedures, discussing expectations and guidelines is a definite must when beginning a new class or year.  Strategies for classroom organization and management can be divided into three levels or tiers. 

Tier 1:  Refers to those strategies that apply at a whole school level.   All stakeholders need to be dedicated to the creation of this positive and proactive approach.  The Positive Behaviour Support Model states that the following framework needs to be applied to promote safe and respectful environment:

􀂉 Universal Expectations

􀂉 Office Referral Procedures

􀂉 School-Wide Acknowledgement System

􀂉 School-Wide Social Skills Instruction

􀂉 Active Supervision

􀂉 Enforcement of Expectations

􀂉 Data-Based Decision Making

􀂉 Safe & Welcoming Culture

Strategies that may be helpful at this stage include: 

1.       Lesson Pacing:  Rate of instructional delivery and time taken by students to complete a task – Colvin (2009) states that slow instruction and pacing tends to create more off task and disruptive behaviour and good pacing correlates with increased on task behaviour and less disruptive behaviour. 

2.      Prompting:  Hints, cues or gestures prior to engaging the student in the task.

3.      Behavioural Momentum:  Taken from the law of physics – an object in motion will stay in motion until a force is applied to change the state.  If the child is engaged and cooperative in one task, they will typically remain cooperative for the next task.

4.      Pictures and organizational tools:  Visual schedules, transition cues, expectations, classroom guidelines, checklists, self-awareness lists.... Pictures and visuals are meant to increase the student’s comprehension of the required task.  The more students’ can understand and comprehend the less likely they may engage in inappropriate behaviour.  Have the student create their own visuals to support their own behaviour. 

5.      Effective feedback:  Feedback that indicates to the student the required behavioural responses.  Focus on what the student did right and how that behaviour results in positive outcomes. 

6.      Increase participation and movement.  Use techniques like games to increase the opportunities for children to respond appropriately. 

Tier 2:   These strategies are applied when children do not respond effectively to Tier 1 strategies.  Depending on the child, the teacher can immediately apply Tier 2 strategies. 

1.        Create situations and opportunities to practice the appropriate behaviour.   It is important for the teacher to establish a relationship with the student and enters into a supportive role rather than an adversarial role.  This is helpful for students experiencing anxiety and fear related difficulties. 

2.       Context modification:  Change the context that is likely to trigger the problem behaviour.  Have the student complete a modified task with similar outcomes and then try to return to the original context as the student becomes more comfortable with the task. 

3.       Fading:  Allowing the student to complete the task after the interventions or strategies have been found to be successful.  Moving children from dependent to independent is our ultimate goal. 

4.       Minimize errors:  Students who feel incompetent in completing a task may experience anxiety around that task because of the errors they may make.  Present clear explicit directions to the student so they understand the requirements of the task.  Separate work completion from work correction. 

5.       Precorrection or Proactive Intervention:  Determine the triggers that set off the problem behaviour and define the expectations using strategies that could be as simple as cueing or redirection, prompting or effective feedback.  Prepare your transitions as these can be troublesome times for a student with difficult behaviour.

6.       Stimulus control:    There is typically a predictable response to a stimulus as observed over time.  If the stimulus is removed or manipulated this may result in a decrease in the inappropriate behaviour. 

Tier 3 strategies are systematically implemented after a FBA has been completed and a behaviour support plan has been developed.  Some strategies may include:  Social skills training, video modelling, cognitive strategies, anger management, conflict resolution, restorative strategies, Parental involvement, wrap around approaches involving outside agencies.

The goal for Positive Behaviour Support is to encourage growth, self-control, self-awareness, independence, belonging, problem solving and decision making skills.  However as this is being accomplished students will make mistakes and will exhibit non-compliance as they are learning new ways to respond.
Colvin (2009) suggest using the following strategies when confronted with non-compliance and difficult behaviour. 
1.        Continue with the flow of the lesson:  The teacher should continue with instruction unless the student becomes unsafe or becomes severely disruptive.  The stopping of instruction when the student exhibits a particular behaviour will only reinforce that behaviour and it will typically continue. 
2.       Delay Responding or Planned Ignoring:  Address the behaviour but not while it is occurring.   
3.       Redirection Prompts:
4.       Rule Reinstatement:
The first two strategies are referred to as Extinction strategies.  The intention is to reduce the consequence or reinforcer of the inappropriate behaviour.  This reaction by an authoritive individual withholds the consequence which should lead to extinguishing the inappropriate behaviour. 

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