Here is the next in a series of posts I've been writing about effective teachers of emotionally disabled students. We've made our way through #1 and 2 (see previous posts in August archives), and now address characteristic #3:
I maintain a consistent behavior management system, including making individualized arrangements for special behavior needs within my classroom.
This is obviously a two-parter; tonight I will tackle the "consistent behavior management system". Later, after the children become a big part of this blog again, I will address the individualization of behavior plans. For now....
Here is a copy of the parent letter I send home describing our classroom based behavior management system. My goal is to clearly explain how it all comes together in our classroom everyday. I also hope the plan might help some parents who feel the need to use a management program at home (and many ED children need similar structure and consistency out of school as well).
This detailed document has been a great source of comfort to many of my students' parents, as it helps to shine a bright light on the otherwise mysterious goings on of the schoolday. Parents tell me their child's doctor uses the information on the point sheet to help with medication issues, and we (parents and teachers) use the data to tweak the child's academic and social skills program overall.
Behavior Management Plan
Our Class Rules
At the start of the school year, children and teachers develop the classroom rules together. They are ultimately based on the following expectations that the classroom will be a productive, safe, caring community:
o We will be safe.
o We will treat each other respectfully.
o We will learn and progress academically.
o We will learn and progress socially.
Once children have participated in the development of the class rules, I design and present a series of lessons to teach, review, and reteach their value. Through class discussion, role play, art response and writing projects, the children become thoroughly familiar with the expectations. (We expect, however, to teach and reteach the rules on a daily basis because of the needs and age of our students.) In addition, our social skills instruction and character education program reinforce these appropriate school behaviors.
The nature of our program mandates that childrenÂs behaviors will be monitored/highlighted throughout the day. As a matter of assessment and parent communication, studentsÂ specific behaviors are evaluated frequently.
The Daily Point Sheet
In 20-30 minute increments, we note how students have demonstrated important classroom behaviors. The observed behaviors are a reflection of the class rules and the students' IEPs. Problem behaviors are clearly defined to insure complete and fair assessment. Because these behaviors often reflect a child's specific weaknesses, we provide the following supports:
o Social skills lesson (both planned and on-the-spot)
o Positive verbal feedback
o Positive non-verbal feedback
o Adapting activities to reduce anxiety or increase interest
o Redirection of student to other areas of focus
o Differential reinforcement of other behaviors (praising others as a means of highlighting expectations without pointedly saying that a specific child is off track---then, noticing and praising when the child makes the behavior change)
o Proximity prompts
o Positive "chill-out" time away from the group (for example, the beanbag or pillow area of the classroom)
o Visual prompts and reminders (schedules, feelings charts, and intensity ratings, etc)
o Scaffolding (providing needed support for each of the steps in a task)
o Earned activities, stickers or intermittent edible reinforcers
o Referral to talk with counselor for extra support in times of crisis
The point sheet provides a "look" at your student's day. We record points toward each goal for behaviors that are demonstrated during the time interval.
o 2 points indicates quick compliance or cooperation
o 1 point indicates that more than 2 or 3 prompts were necessary before completion
o 0 points indicate excessive resistance or outright non-compliance (often despite re-direction and other supports)
It is our experience that over time, students make some improvement in their target areas. Consequently, the daily point sheet is a vehicle for providing information to parents. It also plays a part in the reinforcement process. Most students want both the social and activity reinforcers that a good point sheet brings. The understanding that the day was a YES day ("I made my goal.") or a NO day ("I did not make my goal.) is important. (Required percentages are determined at the IEP meeting.) The YES or NO designation is a more neutral way to assess the dayÂs efforts. In addition, the understanding that ÂI can try again tomorrowÂ is often sustaining.
We design the point sheet system so that a child does not consistently fail. A pattern of failure indicates that the program is not working, and we will work together with parents to make adjustments.
Other Important Behavior Management Tools
In addition to the daily point sheet, we employ other behavior management tools that are grounded in the philosophy of logical consequences, including
o Behavior contracts
o A continuum of time-out consequences ( at the child's desk, at the desk by the door, at the counselor's time out desk, booth)
o Use of planned ignoring that encourages the extinction of inappropriate behaviors
o Extended time out (Detention can be a time out of the classroom for up to 30 minutes. When the problem behavior involves a matter of trust, i.e. leaving the assigned area without permission, or refusing to go to an assigned area, we call the detention a "trust time". If detention time extends into a child's lunch period, teachers will bring the child lunch before 1:00 at the very latest.)
o Administrative procedures (as outlined in the County-wide StudentÂs Rights and Responsibilities guidelines).
There are corrective measures that are NOT part of our behavior management program:
o Indiscriminant, revenge-driven punishment
o Inappropriately long time out that does not reflect the age or developmental level of the child
o Angry outbursts by teachers or staff
o Humiliating sarcasm, degrading comments, nagging
It is my goal to relay important behavior information to the parents in a
timely and professional manner. (email and phone number given)
I want ours to be a true partnership in the best interests of your child. I look forward to a busy and challenging new year! Thanks in advance for your support!
So there you go. There's nothing that matches transparent, conscise, and detailed information!