Many times educators skip to the brainstorming, creation, and delivery of specific behavior interventions for children when clear classroom procedures, routines, and expectations have not been established. As a reminder 80-85% of children should be responsive to a Tier I classroom behavior management system. How, then, does the behavior of the remaining 15-20% of students change?
Many times educators skip to the brainstorming, creation, and delivery of specific behavior interventions for children when clear classroom procedures, routines, and expectations have not been established. As a reminder 80-85% of children should be responsive to an effective Tier I classroom behavior management system. How, then, can we help the remaining 15-20% be successful when it comes to behavior?
Some of the most commonly asked questions from teachers who are having difficulty managing a child’s behavior stem from how to get a student’s behavior to change. Although there is agreement that it is important for all teachers to have a “bag of tricks” up their sleeves to manage student behavior, it is equally important to dig deeper for real, lasting change with some of the most challenging student behaviors. When encountering students who are having difficulty in school because of misbehavior or unsuccessful academic achievement, the first questions to ask are:
- What is this student doing that is preventing him/her from being successful in school?
- Why is this student misbehaving? Why is the student not being successful in school?
Understand the “What”
Part of successfully creating an appropriate Tier 2 intervention using Response to Intervention (RTI) for students who are having difficulty is correctly identifying the problem that those students are having, with specificity. That means working together as teachers with families to appropriately document what, when, where, and how the problems are occuring. When dealing with extreme behaviors in which we need immediate support, the challenge is that many times the early strategies we apply out of necessity are not based on data and may not be as effective. In urgent as well as less-urgent response situations, it’s important to document all behavior events. Behavior data trends captured over time can best guide educators in choosing the best intervention strategy.
Identify the “Why”
If you do any scholarly research about why children misbehave you will find countless articles, references, and lists with reasons that we can attribute a child’s behavior. However, in my experience, there are four reasons why children misbehave:
- Fear of Failure
If you can successfully categorize behavior into one of these four reasons, you will be more likely to be apply an appropriate behavior intervention, specifically designed to support the individual student’s challenges. The underlying lesson here is find out why. A famous quote that I hold dear is “Seek to understand before being understood.” There is a reason why children behave the way they do. If we want to help move a child to success we must seek to understand what is motivating the child to act.
“Our reaction to a situation literally has the power to change the situation itself.” — Unknown
The knowledge of the “what” and “why” helps us to be able to implement the most effective support strategies for our children. If a person had cancer, you would not give him medication for diabetes. This same rationale should be applied to children who are having behavior challenges in school. However, for far too long we have taken a list of classroom behavior management strategies (RTI Tier I and Tier II) and applied them to all children, supposing they should work. And for some, they will. However, for some, they won’t. That is when we must be able to apply specialized strategies to children, based on the data we have collectively gathered about the child.
One example of the application of an effective behavior RTI Tier II strategy in schools is the use of Check In Check Out (CICO) for students whose motivation is to seek attention. CICO, an intervention designed for students whose problem behaviors are not responsive to Tier I practices, works for children whose behavior is rooted in seeking attention. It allows a child or group of children to have a daily one-on-one interaction with a supportive adult focused on that child’s specific goals. However, CICO would not be appropriate if a child’s behavior stems from lack of confidence in an academic subject, since that strategy does not apply to the root cause of the behavior.
Here at Kickboard we know the importance of effective classroom behavior management strategies to the classroom teacher. We have lots of tools and resources to help with the creation and implementation of Tier I PBIS classroom and schoolwide behavior plans that promote student success, as well as resources to support RTI Tier II/III interventions through a school wide system that supports individual classroom students and teachers. For more information about our resources click here.