Whether an experienced or novice teacher, none can escape the challenges of effectively managing children in the classroom. With growing class sizes and students from diverse backgrounds with various academic levels, the challenges for the modern teacher seem far greater than often what seems manageable. However, effective Tier I classroom behavior management systems have been proven to support the full spectrum of students who enter the classrooms of our urban, rural, and suburban schools. In fact, effective Tier I systems:
Tier I systems of positive behavioral interventions and supports (PBIS) consist of rules, routines, and physical arrangements that are developed and taught to prevent initial occurrences of behavior. Classroom behavior management plans directly impact the success of the students in our classes. If our goal is to prevent discipline problems and encourage positive behavior, we must take a critical look at our classroom systems to ensure our plans set our students up for success.
Consider the following questions when evaluating your classroom behavior management Tier I systems:
It is important that the expectations for behavior and learning in our classrooms are clear for our students. Systems such as CHAMPS and PBIS provide a comprehensive, proactive, and positive approach to classroom behavior management, helping teachers specifically map out expected behaviors for non-instructional and instructional procedures and routines. The procedures we establish cannot be vague, they must be specific because we are in essence teaching children how we want things done. For example, a procedure for entering the classroom in the morning could be: enter the room silently; put away your backpack, lunch, and coat; turn in your homework in the designated bin; sit at your desk and read alone or do before-school work.
Once established, we must teach and practice the classroom rules and procedures and positively narrate as soon as they are being followed. In a school where PBIS is being implemented, administrators, teachers, and school staff work together to create a positive culture by clearly defining expected behaviors that are then taught to all students and adults and celebrate when they are exhibited.
“The lenses and filters that we see the world through are so firmly attached to our faces that it requires great awareness and then courage to pull the lenses off and look at ourselves and the world around us from any other viewpoint.”
— Lyssa Danehy deHart, StoryJacking: Change Your Inner Dialogue, Transform Your Life
As teachers, it is absolutely imperative that we take time to examine our own biases, pre-judgements, and assumptions. An integral part of creating a culturally responsive classroom where we effectively manage student behaviors is responding appropriately to children’s individual needs. When we make generalizations and assumptions about children and their families, where they come from, and what they need, we can take huge missteps even if our intentions are pure. For example, my first year teaching, I taught in a school where all of the county’s English as a Second Language Learners were assigned. As a result, I had over 8 different nationalities of children and families in my class, many of whom I had never interacted with on a personal level. Very quickly, I had to learn about my students’ cultures so I would not misunderstand their intentions. For example, knowing that it is disrespectful in some cultures to look an adult in the eye was very helpful as I managed my children and interacted with their families.
Active and engaged students who are excited about learning is the dream for every classroom teacher. A classroom where children are forced to sit and listen to a teacher for extended amounts of their school day, or where the teacher is doing most of the work while students are passively learning or not engaged in the learning process, will not produce optimal student learning. As teachers, we must go beyond the need to control, toward an attitude of facilitation in our classrooms, if we want our children’s learning to be at the highest levels. When we have effectively taught expected behaviors and have clear procedures and routines in our classrooms it is possible to move beyond the “sit and get” model of teaching to active engagement and involvement of children in their own learning experiences. Some examples of strategies that lead to active learning are: true cooperative learning, project based learning, journaling, problem solving activities, asking questions throughout the lesson, and flipping the classroom.
A classroom behavior management strategy that will catapult your learning environment to the next level is to go beyond just teaching behavioral expectations to identifying important character traits or competencies that will ensure your students’ success. Kickboard’s Positive School Culture Inventory (PSCI) identifies behaviors that will directly impact your climate and culture and support student success. Taking time to identify and teach these important behaviors (if your school has not already established them) is a beneficial classroom behavior management strategy that will only provide more benefits to the learners and teachers involved.
Here at Kickboard we have seen transformations take place in some of the most challenging classrooms through teachers being clear about their expectations, examining their bias, ensuring students are actively engaged in learning, and incorporating SEL into a sound classroom behavior management plan. Check out the continuation of this blog to get more information about specific classroom management strategies that can be used in the moment to help support the students in your class when sound, Tier I strategies are in place.