Monday, November 19, 2012

Strategies for Challenging Behaviour - Positive Behaviour Support

The number one referral to the administration is typically oppositional or defiant behaviour.  Adults express views that this generation of children is a lot more difficult than earlier generations.  Some teachers believe that it is not their job to teach both behavioural and academic outcomes.  However research shows that a child's behaviour directly affects their academic outcomes.  So if we want to see a positive result for a child who is exhibiting challenging behaviour the first thing that we have to discuss is the factors behind the behaviours. No matter how much we push the academic side without addressing the behavior we will not achieve the results we want until we pursue a holistic outlook. 
Teachers need to carry out a number of tasks and some of those tasks feel insurmountable.  Not only are teachers required to make sure their students are achieving their academic outcomes but we also want students to develop skills so they can make good, healthy responsible decisions and become contributing members of society.  If behaviour management in our classrooms is a struggle than we are not achieving either of these outcomes.    Tuttle and Otten (2011) note that good teachers have both the skills to teach social and behavioural strategies as well as academic outcomes as they have similar learning principles and interventions. 
So what do we do??  It is time to examine our approach to the problem.  Schools punish and suspend but do these strategies really work.  For some maybe, but they still will not teach self-responsibility and control.  Punitive methods may actually create learning counter productive to the goals we want to meet.  Letting go of the "old ways of doing things" and focusing on problem solving and proactive approaches is the key. 
Positive Behaviour Support or PBS is a major initiative developed over the past decade to shift the focus from reactive behaviour management to proactive support.  It is not about providing rewards and consequences but it is a systemic, structured approach to the function of a child's behaviour in relation to many factors - family, environment, health, school, social interaction, etc... It is a flexible approach that embraces scientific methods and interventions that are research based. 
Data gathering plays a critical role in this model.  Through a variety of collection methods a hypothesis and intervention is developed surrounding the function of the child's behaviour.  The premise of PBS focuses on learning what the child is trying to communicate through their behaviour and what needs they are trying to meet.  The intervention is then structured toward helping the child meet the same needs but in a more appropriate way.  Keeping in mind that behaviour will change over time and environment, the intervention is never fixed or static.  It is dynamic and flexible. 

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One of the biggest issues that I hear about from teachers and caregivers is the behaviour of the children or youth in their school, program ...