Last week I began teaching at a new school in Houston, Texas. When I interviewed for this teaching position I knew that some of the students were going to be a challenge. Well, I began this past Monday and it was a very interesting beginning to say the least. First of all the class size has increased to 28 little darlings within 2 weeks. So, finding a way to organize the desk was a challenge in itself. After trying 3 different arrangements I finally found an arrangement that worked for the amount of space that I had to accommodate such a large class.
When I began on Monday there were a couple of students that were not at school. When they came to school on Tuesday I quickly realized why they were not present (if you know what I mean). The behavior that I observed from one of the students was not normal misbehavior of a 6 or 7 year old. I am used to dealing with difficult students and there were at least 4 difficult children in the classroom. Since I was taking over a class that had not had a teacher for 6 weeks I knew that I would have to approach the class differently than if I were starting at the beginning of the year.
Based on what I knew about children in low income areas I had to build a relationship with students before I could manage their behavior. So I decided to begin with class dojo. At my previous school class dojo worked for at least 90% of the students because it is a visual and auditory reminder for the students. After settling 25 students that responded to class dojo it was then time to focus on the 3 students who didn’t respond. These are my Tier 2 students because the class behavior management plan does not work for them. At my previous school the counselor helped me to develop Tier 2 behavior contracts for students.
For my 3 Tier 2 students I searched the Internet for a behavior contract for them. Before I decided on a contract I observed their behavior so that I could make a decision on which behavior I would target in order to get the students on track. I found one that was very simple and provided a space for the targeted behavior.
When I was observing each student’s behavior I noticed that each one of them had a different trigger and each student fed off of the other student’s misbehavior. This was very good information because it will help to target the behavior for each student that causes the most disruptions during instruction. For example, one of the students is an instigator which causes the other students to react. My goal for him would be to tell the teacher when someone is bothering him.
Managing challenging behavior can be difficult for even the most experienced educators but the key is to stay calm and do not ever give up on finding a solution. I don’t want to sound unrealistic but there are some students that teachers are not equipped to handle. Those are the Tier 3 students who need support that is beyond what you can provide.