Sunday, September 2, 2012

Teaching Strategy 5: Behavior Management Tools

When trying to determine which behavior management tool you want to use, you first need to consider the function of the problem behaviors.  Behavior usually occurs when students want attention, access to a tangible item (toy/food), they want to escape or avoid a non preferred activity/person, or there is something automatically reinforcing (a behavior that is not socially mediated) their behavior.  A lot of times, we think we know what the function of a behavior is right away, but we can be wrong.  

This is my favorite "bad behavior" visual...haha. ------------------------------->

For instance, for many students who are self-injurious (head banging,  hand biting, skin picking, etc), it would at first seem that their behavior has some sort of automatic function.  But, research has found that these behaviors also occur to escape activities and to get access to attention/tangible items.  Running away can be a confusing behavior too.  Students can run away because they want to escape an activity, they want the attention of someone following/retrieving them, or they may have a burst of energy and don't have another more appropriate way to deal with it.  Finding out the function may be difficult, but don't give up.  If your interventions aren't working, just remember you may be addressing the wrong function.  For an awesome way to figure out the function of a behavior, look into Functional Analysis by Dr. Brian Iwata.

A lot of the other teaching strategies I have posted about (visuals, schedules, organization, flexibility, predictability, giving choices) can all be considered behavior management tools as well.  But, now for some common behavior management tools. 

First-then card:  This specifies what they child must do (work wise) and follows with a preferred item/activity they will earn when they finish working.


Token boards:  This is similar to a First-then card, but allows students to earn tokens (the number and how often they are delivered can vary based on student) to earn a preferred item/activity.  

Break cards:  This is a card that is available for students to present to the teacher if they need a break.  There are many ways to set this up.  You can allow one break per activity, or you can allow a determined number of breaks per day (if you give too many, your student may end up on a break all day, if you give too few, you may not see a decrease in problem behavior.  You can always gradually fade out the number of breaks as your student's problem behavior decreases.)

Kids vs Teachers game:  You come up with a list of rules for the kids to follow (the length of the list can vary depending on the ability levels of your students).  Some common rules we use are raise your hand/no shout outs, stay in seat, keep your hands to yourself.  On the board you make a T-chart with "kids" on one side and "teacher" on the other.  As you conduct your lesson, every time you see a child following the rules, the kids get a point.  Every time you se a child NOT following the rules, the teacher gets a point.  For some students "winning/beating the teacher" may be reinforcing.  However, for others, you may need to give an extra break access to a preferred item.  
**pardon the typo above (supposed to say "hands to self")

Catching students being good:  So often, we tell children when they are being bad and how they should act to behave better.  We often forget to reward them when we catch them being good.  "Rewarding" will vary based on the child.  For some of our kids praising them may be enough, but for others praise has little/no value and you may need to use some sort of tangible item (toy/food) instead.

No matter which option you choose, it is important to make data-based decisions on whether or not your plan is working.  Track your student's behavior data, don't just assume it is/isn't working.  Sometimes behaviors get worse before they get better.  And sometimes the changes are slow to start. 

No comments:

Post a Comment