What Happens When Students Do Not or Can Not Follow the Classroom Management Plan?
If a student does not respond to minor interventions or moderate interventions and behavior interrupts the classroom activities and interferes with learning, additional strategies should be in place to address this behavior. These are the students who stand out from other students and always test the system. When students continue to misbehave despite attempts to redirect behavior, decisions must be made to individualize interventions. Many teachers resist individual behavior management because it means treating some students differently from others, but some students simply need more support. Creating an individual classroom support plan is no different from individualizing instruction for students who struggle or excel in academic areas. Glasser suggests that teachers emphasize the following:
- Student behavior is purposeful, intentionally motivated, and planned to meet certain needs.
- Most students will not commit themselves to learning that is boring, frustrating, and dissatisfying.
- Encourage students to research in-depth information about socially approved topics that they consider relevant to their lives.
- Encourage students to explain how, why, or where their preferred learning is valuable.
- Instead of punishing and scolding students, build positive relationships, provide encouragement, and show a willingness to help students.
- Involve students in developing a learning community. Ask students what kinds of behaviors support learning and what should happen when students do not follow these behaviors.
- When working with students, try to avoid the deadly habits of blaming, complaining, nagging, criticizing, and rewarding students to control them. Instead, provide caring, listening, contributing, encouraging, trusting, supporting, and befriending (Charles, 2005).
The problem-solving conference is one approach to resolve conflicts between the teacher and the student or between students because different individuals have different goals. The problem-solving conference includes the following components;
- Identify the problem. Start with a statement of the purpose of the meeting and asking students to express their point of view. Listening to the students' points of view gives the teacher useful information for later steps, helps to gauge the level of student cooperation and understanding in the problem, and helps the teacher formulate a solution to the problem. The teacher can begin the conference by describing the problem without labeling the behavior of concern and asking students for a reaction. Ask students if the behavior is hurting or helping them. If students recognize that a behavior is hurting them, they are more likely to commit to change. If students blame others or argue extenuating circumstances, the teacher must decide if student complaints have some validity or if students are trying to avoid accepting responsibility for their actions. When the problem has been identified and agreed upon, the conference can move to the next step.
- Select a solution. Invite the student to suggest solutions to the problem. If possible, have two or three suggestions and compare them for the most desirable plan. Develop a plan for following the suggestions. Occasionally, students may suggest a solution that puts the responsibility on others by suggesting things like "don't bother me and I won't bother you". While it is a solution, ask the student what he is willing to do to address the problem. Once a mutually agreeable solution is reached, move to the next step.
- Obtain a commitment. The student accepts the solution for a specified length of time and with the understanding that the agreement is reviewed and evaluated. This step is sometimes called a "contract" and is written on official-looking paper with a seal and a space for the teacher and the student to sign (Emmer & Evertson, 2009).
A possible format
If the problem-solving conference fails to make progress, the teacher might look at his or her own skills in assertiveness before concluding that the problem-solving conference did not work successfully. A constructively assertive teacher captures student attention, communicates the seriousness of changing behavior, and clarifies solutions to improve the chances of obtaining a sincere commitment to change. By using these skills and being patient, giving the problem-solving conference a chance to work, chances that students will buy-in to the process increase.
If the problem behavior persists, the Jones and Jones (2001) plan is another option. This plan includes the following steps:
- Use visual clues to remind students of the appropriate behavior.
- If disruption continues, ask the student to follow the classroom expectations.
- If the disruption continues, give the student a choice to stop the behavior or develop a plan to correct behavior.
- If the disruption continues, require the student to move to a designated area to write a corrective plan.
- If the disruption continues, send the student to another location (school office) to write a plan (Emmer et al., 2006).
An additional approach to problem behavior is to use the "Think Time Strategy." It is designed to help students learn self-control and to prevent escalation. In the "Think Time Strategy," the teacher removes the non-compliant student to another teacher's classroom and provides time for the student to regain focus on the behavior. This process is prearranged with the receiving teacher who has agreed to accept the student. The student goes to the assigned seat in the classroom and waits for the receiving teacher to make contact with the student and give directions for what the student should do. The receiving teacher does debriefing with the student and provides a format for the student to use in creating a solution to the problem behavior that caused the student to be removed from the classroom. The student completes a form listing the behavior and what he will do when they reenter the classroom. If this approach is chosen, both teachers work together to create a space for students and a form for students to complete. This consequence should be discussed with students prior to its use. Explain that going to another classroom allows students time to think about what happened, to regain control, and to create a corrective plan of action to address the problem (Martella et al., 2005).
Special problems require stronger measures than those described above. Often school districts have specific procedures that must be followed. These problems include sexual harassment, threats to the safety of others, bullying, fighting, bringing weapons to school, hostility or violence to the teacher or other staff members, and chronic avoidance of work. Referring to the school district behavior plan is a good way to determine the behaviors that have specific guidelines and procedures. Using the district plan the teacher can then address the problem behavior with the school or personal goals in mind.
Tattling is another behavior that is often not disruptive but can be a problem when it becomes common practice. To prevent tattling, teachers should make clear what the students should report to the teacher and what they should not report. Balancing what the teacher needs to know and what the teacher does not need to know is of concern because certain situations should be addressed. Teachers who recognize when students are seeking attention through tattling can provide that attention in other ways (Evertson & Emmer, 2009). Some teachers place a box in the classroom and ask students to "report" complaints by writing the complaint on a full sheet of paper with a complete heading. Remind students that spelling and grammar should be correct. Other teachers simply respond by thanking the student for sharing the offense and walking away. If tattling continues to be a problem, re-teach what you expect students to report, or have students write about it, draw pictures, or role play expectations.
Chronic avoidance of work or skipping home and class work is another special problem that most teachers encounter. Dealing with this problem early in the semester is preferable to letting late assignments accumulate and cause a reduction in grades. Talking to the student about responsibility, addressing the causes for chronic avoidance of work, providing additional assistance in completing assignments, and modifying assignments are possible solutions to this problem. Providing bonuses, extra privileges, and exemptions from tests are positive approaches. If the problem is not ability, having procedures in place that deal with homework is critical to preventing the problem and not correcting the problem. Involving parents is an additional step in making sure that students complete homework. Teachers should be sure not to soften negative consequences by giving students higher grades than they have earned. When students are so far behind in work, there are few incentives for students to try to catch up with homework and there is little value in completing assignments that were assigned weeks before (Evertson & Emmer, 2009). Homework continues to be a problem for teachers in all grade levels. Teachers continually search for solutions.
Fighting falls into the special problems category. It is less likely to occur in classrooms than in passing periods, during lunch, and the playground. Most school districts have policies in place to address fighting. In elementary school, teachers usually are able to stop a fight with little risk of injury, but that is not true in middle and secondary schools. Teacher intervention in middle and secondary school could include a loud verbal command to stop the altercation indicating that a referee has arrived followed by securing assistance from another teacher or someone in the office. Removing the other students and onlookers removes the audience and without the audience, students can end the fight and save face at the same time. If the school does not have a policy for dealing with fighting, the teacher should follow the fight with a conference, an office visit, consequences, and the notification of parents (Evertson & Emmer, 2009).
Power struggles offer special problems to teachers and require an understanding of the motivation for the behavior. People usually enter power struggles because of a need for power, belonging, and respect. Students who act out hostile and aggressive behavior generally have unmet needs in their lives. Because this is a threat to teachers, most feel that if students "get away" with this behavior, other students will repeat the same behaviors. Open confrontation by a student puts the student in a position of either backing down and losing face or continuing the confrontation as a show of control. Defusing the situation by refusing to deal with the problem during instructional time is one way to address power struggles. Offering the student a chance to cool down sometimes ends the struggle. If a student refuses to keep quiet or leave the classroom, send another student to the office for help. Although violence in the classroom is rare, many school districts have emergency plans in place to deal with it. Teachers should familiarize themselves with the school plans that usually include moving students to an area of safety or securing the classroom, contacting administrators and other emergency personnel, and remaining calm.
Dealing with consequences in classrooms involves acting instead of reacting. Being proactive increases the likelihood that consequences are needed. Teaching, the main focus of the classroom, should provide opportunities for high student involvement which allows fewer opportunities for inappropriate and off-task behavior. When a consequence is delivered and followed with positive support and encouragement, students realize that all is not lost, and they can earn back opportunities they have lost to restore themselves to good graces of the teacher. Teachers who plan for consequences and who use the least amount of a consequence necessary to correct the behavior save instructional time and unnecessary student stress (Evertson & Emmer, 2009).