Figuring out triggers / reasons for misbehavior

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Linguist92021, Oct 5, 2013.

  1. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Aficionado

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    Oct 5, 2013

    I'm wondering if there is a trick or strategy that would help pinpoint the reasons behind complete meltdowns or major misbehavior.

    I just got to the point where I was able to figure out the trigger for 3 of my students. Maybe I'm getting better at this, or maybe I just got lucky.

    Examples:
    Boy A: major background problems. Lost his mom a while ago, being raised by grandpa. Have no outlet for grieving, because grandpa is still upset about it, can't talk to friends about it, and cemetery is next to us. (constant reminder). And there are a lot of other problems I'm not aware of. I have him 4th and 5th period. 4th period he's absolutely wonderful, on task, respectful, a sweet kid. So I know it's not that he doesn't like me, or has no respect for me.
    5th per. he changes. 2 days ago it was as soon as the period started, yesterday he made it through the first 15 minutes. I know it has to be the group of kids, some are the same from 4th, but we have a few other students. So 2 days ago I asked him, and he said Girl A made a face at him, and he hates her, and that's why he lost it. When he looses it, nothing works, rewards, redirection, consequences, nothing. He has to go, that's how disruptive he is. Instead of going to office or suspension room, he sometimes hops over the fence and takes off.
    Yesterday major meltdown, and I saw it happening, from one second to the next, he completely lost it. The girl didn't say anything, but it may just be her presence.
    Shared it with P the day before, and she thanked me, because she said she was able to use that info for figuring things out (she didn't tell him I told her)
    added: this issue has nothing to do with the mom, but we had a lot of other problems stemming from that. This current issue comes from this guy liking a another female student, but girl A started some very nasty rumors about her. So now boy A hates Girl A because she might jeopordize his chances with the other girl.

    Girl A: sweet girl, we got a little closer from last year, so I can just redirect her, and she'll get it together just to please me / stay out of trouble, etc. She has major anger issues, so when she gets mad, it's over. I realized that just lately, so the goal is not let her get mad, or stop it while she's getting to that point. Also calling home is great, because grandma is supportive with rewards and consequences. So I feel like I'm making progress with her. Yesterday she was about to lose it, but I was able to stop her, she took 2 minutes and got it together. (when she looses it she would cuss me out, 2 days ago she yelled at me 'you're acting fxxking stupid'. Yet, I know she likes me, but her anger takes over)

    Boy B. have him 2 periods back to back, just like Boy A. 4th period he's pretty good. 5th period can go either way. Calling home works, because mom is supportive, he doesn't want to me call though, even to just say good things (don't know why, still have to figure that out). 5th period he can completely lose it, to the point of getting kicked out. He's on probation, so he can get locked up for getting kicked out too many times, but when he gets angry, he doesn't care.
    He says I used to be cool, but now I'm not. Yet, the first 3-4 weeks we constantly battled, and since then things have been better. I don't think he doesn't like me, because our interaction is always great, except for when he has a bad day. I noticed him worrying about 6th period, he often says he doesn't like it, he wants out of it (it's another teacher's class), because he's gonna get locked up. I thought he had conflict with another student. Turns out it's the teacher (both the teacher and P told me). This kid can be perfect, and then in a matter of minutes he looses it, and say things like 'I don't care, sent me out, fxck your class..' and goes on and on. Rewards work at times (yesterday it worked, he wanted to sit in my chair on Monday if he's good, and it worked. Of course the chair won't be behind my desk, it's with the other desks, and he knows it).

    So my question is: is there a way for me to pinpoint problems and triggers that would take less than 4 weeks?
    These 3 students have anger issues, I had private conversations with them, and it took a long time for them to share some insight, and it took me to observe them. But I can't really watch 1 student while I'm teaching, I have another 10 to worry about, and all 3 of these students are in my 5th period, which is the most difficult (although lately it's much better).

    Besides these 3 students there are 40 out of the 60+ that have just as many issues, baggages and huge problems and triggers I need to find out. How do I do that? Does it have to take forever?
     
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  3. heavens54

    heavens54 Connoisseur

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    Oct 5, 2013

    One thing that might help is to read the postings in www.smartclassroommanagement.com. He often deals with difficult behavior students and how to deal with them. I'm not sure that you can know each student's triggers, but maybe this sight would help you manage the overall issue and to be a little more proactive in preventing them from getting out of hand.

    Good luck. It sounds like you have a lot to deal with in your room.
     
  4. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Aficionado

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    I know that website, I keep looking at it, but I can only guess from it though. With boy A I would have never guessed that it was that one girl. My P always knows everything, and I always wonder how. Some kids tell her, I guess, but she knows EVERYTHING. She didn't know that the girl was the problem for Boy A.
    That website is excellent for learning how to deal with behavior based on the reason once I know what the reason is.

    All our students have a lot of problems, otherwise they wouldn't be in our school. We have the so called perfect students, who are no problems, but obviously even they did enough bad things to be kicked out of regular schools.
     
  5. Zelda~*

    Zelda~* Habitué

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    Oct 5, 2013

    Some kids, you can't <I>find</I> the trigger. I've had students who have left me scratching my head and that have even baffled numerous psychiatrists.

    The best you can do is a case by case basis. Observe, document, and try to piece the puzzle together. Sounds like you're already doing a great job. :)
     
  6. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    Oct 5, 2013

    So general thoughts about determining functions: First, it can take a few days or a few years just depending on how complex it is and how you go about it. In general, I'm guessing you're familiar with how to do FBAs - not the FBAs where folks sit around and fill out a form, but actually collecting and analyzing data? The essential idea is to document the antecedents, behaviors, and consequences of each incident and to then look at which As and Cs tend to be associated with which Bs.

    A step further, which may be helpful here, is functional behavior analysis (vs. assessment), which means that you actually manipulate behaviors one at a time and see how behavior responds. For example, with Boy 2, one step would be to not make him go to 6th period for an entire week regardless of tantrum. I know this isn't necessarily feasible, but the idea is that you'd be testing a hypothesis that he is misbehaving to get kicked out and thus avoid 6th period. By giving him the reward you hypothesize he is after but without requiring the misbehavior in order to receive it, the idea is that he would stop engaging in the misbehavior because he doesn't need to do it anymore to get what he wants. That being said, sometimes behavior that starts for one function accrues secondary (and tertiary, etc.) functions, such as attention. So, it could be that he started the behavior to get out of 6th period, but once he started acting out he realized it score him points in the power category. Point being that now you've got a more complicated situation and simply giving the initial C for free (getting out of 6th period) won't - by itself - change the behavior. I say all of this because now we're getting into how it can take a while when you have to test out a variety of combinations of behavior.

    So, questions for you:

    1) Have you done structured FBAs for each child? If so, what does your data show? What information do you still need to implement an effective solution?

    2) If you've done structured FBAs but haven't narrowed down your As and Cs to one item each, it may be time for a FB-Analysis. If so, what are the most likely As and Cs to manipulate first?
     
  7. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Aficionado

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    I haven't done structured FBAs for any of the kids. I've been just trying to be more observant while I'm still managing the whole class and putting the pieces of the puzzle together. I've been also trying to deal with the behavior consistently and appropriately. Honestly, my latest goal was to try to figure out when to be patient and compassionate and when to be extremely strict.
    I know that makes me sound like I'm very inconsistent, but we have to be compassionate with what the kids are dealing with. My P always reminds us that traditional consequences and systems didn't work for these kids, that's why we have them. So going down the list of consequences, ending with getting kicked out will work for some, but not for all. Rewards, second chances etc can work just as well.

    So for Boy A I was trying to be a little patient and just ignore a lot of the behaviors if they weren't disruptive. For example one day eh decided to lay flat on the floor in the back. I actually let him. He wasn't disruptive and the kids ignored him. Later he got a little worse and I sent him to the office to talk to someone. It turned out grandpa beat him that morning and my P actually called CPS. Then they sent him back to my class and he got really bad, so I had to send him to suspension. So being patient was working better for him, but it was just still too much of a burden for him to carry that day. My P said actually there was a miscommunication in the office, because he should not have been sent back to my class after knowing CPS was involved based on his statement.

    But when I talked to her about me trying to be patient and compassionate, she said he needs a very strict enforcement of expectations. Since then I've been confused. How am I supposed to know that? I thought he needs to know people care about him and are allowing him to get back on track. Enforcing the rules as I'm supposed to will get him kicked out of my class most of the time within the first 10 minutes.

    Boy B - we can't have him not to go to 6th period class. My P said she's going to keep him away from that teacher for next quarter, which starts after next week. If we start having kids pick and choose which class they go to, the whole thing will fall apart. The quarter change is a great way to fix problems, because most kids' schedules are changing anyways.
     
  8. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    So to your initial question about knowing triggers, etc. that's where I'd start - doing a more structured FBA. 4 weeks is a short-time - even if you get done you're not likely to have the data long enough to do much with it, so probably some shorter-term interventions/supports like you're trying makes the most sense.

    You don't sound inconsistent - both support and firmness are important, and it can be hard to figure out which to use when. Sounds like you're doing a good job of it.

    That was really just an extreme example to show the point of manipulating variables. Another way of testing that same variable, for example, would always requiring him to go to 6th period regardless of behavior or getting kicked out of your class.
     
  9. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Aficionado

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    Oh, another thing I forgot to add: having a student sent out of the room to in school suspension only suspends him from that one class. So he's sent out in 5th, he goes to his regular class in 6th. Because he had major troubles in 5th on Wednesday, he was suspended from my classes for the next day as well, but not from others.
    So I think he might be stressing about the other class which causes him to misbehave, but he knows he can't avoid that class by being bad in mine.

    We see this a lot. Kids having to go to court and face the judge are nervous about what's going to happen, they do they get their house arrest extended, do they actually get locked up (it happened twice in the past 2 weeks), and they act up really badly, just because they don't know how to handle their emotions.

    Of course usually we don't know about this, unless the kid tells me. So that's another trigger I wouldn't know until later. There's just too much happening with these kids to keep up :(
     
  10. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    So, do you think you'll do FBA-type stuff or have you decided to just do an informal thing?
     
  11. Special-t

    Special-t Enthusiast

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  12. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Aficionado

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    Honestly, I really don't know where I would find the time to do FBA. If I could sit there and observe a student while a teacher is teaching, yes, but I have to teach the lesson and manage 10-14 students. I know that doesn't sound like a lot, but each and every one of these students have been expelled from their schools, so I guess they must have had FBA done on them already (the website say by law it must be done if the student is even suspended for a lengthy time).
    I barely have the time to record what happened. I am actually keeping a running log of behaviors, because often I have several issues with a student, but I would forget the details by 3rd period. This way when I write it up, and call home at the end of day or talk to the student, I can specifically recall exactly what he did, how many chances and warnings I gave him, etc. I can do that most of the time (although it's hard).

    I can't do experiments and detailed observations.
    I was able to observe "Boy A" on Friday, every single minute I could focus on him, but that never happened before. This was by luck.

    And these triggers... I remember my P telling me that his trigger was another student, he was showing off for him by being bad. This other student is the most immature one out of them and drives me up the wall. Lately we're doing better, for the best 3 weeks he's manageable. I figured some things out about him and our relationship improved, in turn he responds to me better.
    I would have never, ever guess that he was showing off for him. I don't even know how my P knows that.

    I think I have to do the 'informal thing'. Observe as well as I can, talk to the student, talk to others. And hope it won't take weeks before I crack a case lol
     
  13. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    Makes sense. So, anything we can do to help or do you have it all figured out?
     
  14. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Aficionado

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    Thank you so much for this link! It's very useful! The model of trigger, escalation, etc, is very interesting, and now that I think about it, it's 100 % true. I've seen it each time.
    Here's a question: if I just manage through the peak, how long would it take before the student de-escalates?
    I feel like I can't wait for that point. There were plenty of times when I gave the student a lot of chances, we're talking 20 minutes of horrible behavior, and it didn't get better, and eventually had to send him out. Later on, with the same student I didn't wait that long, I got him out of there after a few warnings, because he would have just disrupted the the entire class with no end.

    I remember a very few instances when the student reached his peak, and de-escalated. Maybe I need to learn how to help through that peak quickly, but is there such thing? Or is it all about prevention?
     
  15. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    Jumping in here :) - yes, you can make it a quicker process through the crisis phase, but not necessarily. There are things you can do to increase the likelihood of a smooth recovery, but not guarantee it.
     
  16. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    I think you're doing amazing work with a rough population. It's so hard to be able to isolate those behaviors while in the midst of teaching a room full of kids and keeping all those other balls in the air at the same time.

    Just think of how incredibly helpful it would be to next year's teachers to have your notes from this year, to know early on which triggers precipitate problems.
     
  17. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Aficionado

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    Thank you Alice! I agree with you, it's really hard.
    But what really is confusing and pleasantly surprising is that the kids can be so mean and aggressive in the classroom and then so sweet outside of it, during lunch or break.
    For example Boy B was kicked out of my classroom on Tuesday, cussing up a storm on his way out. You'd think he'd want nothing to do with me after that, right?
    During lunch I had a bunch of kids hanging out in my room, eating, talking. He comes in, walks up to me, looks at me with a calm face (back to normal), throws a bag of Cheeze-its on my desk. Reaches in his pocket, gently drops 7 cents on my desk (I guess that's all he had lol). I ask him what's it for, and that I don't want it, he says 'it's for you, keep it' and walks away, sits down and talks to his friends. After that he would talk to me like nothing ever happened.
    This is confusing. Funny, but very confusing. I guess that was his apology?
     
  18. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Well, for starters, boys tend to be great that way. Punish a girl, and she'll hate you... she'll mention you in her will as the person she hated most in the world. But a boy will curse you out, then hold the door for you on the way out.

    And, yes, I imagine that was his apology. From what I understand about the population you teach, kids learn early that if they don't stand up for themselves, no one else will. So I imagine part of the behavior is simply that.
     
  19. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Aficionado

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    Our 4th period is after break. They get a snack and whatever was left over from breakfast. I guess Cheeze-its are highly prized by some and not liked by others, so there are a lot of extras going around. I think it was this same Tuesday when Boy A came in and gave me a bag of Cheeze its (I guess it's the same as giving a teacher an apple? lol). He told me to keep it, don't throw it away, don't give it away, and that he wanted to see me eat it. He made references to it several times. It was so funny and cute, he wanted to make sure his gift was accepted.
    This same boy blows up in 5th period, as I explained it above, and this happens most of the time.

    I did realize one thing this past week. A lot of the kids would do the right thing to please a teacher they like. A lot of the kids would turn their behavior around because they like a teacher. They'd do good just for the him / her. A student like boy A or Boy B cannot do that. They miss that connection. When their anger takes over, or get overwhelmed by their problems, I can't get use my influence over them. They completely disconnect themselves from me and the problems they're causing me. Then when I see them next they're back to normal, because the problem is gone by then (or they got over it). So it's almost like they blacked out consciously.

    So here I am being all sad that they're acting like that in my class, 'don't they think of the headache they give me??', but then I realize that to them it's a non-issue. They're not against me, they just can't focus on that. Their behavior has nothing to do with me, especially from their point of view. Understanding that helps.
     
  20. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Aficionado

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    Oct 7, 2013

    So today boy A didn't show up to school. This has happened before, he ditched, or didn't show.
    Boy B got locked up today. They were doing random drug testing, and he told me if he gets tested, he'll be dirty, because he did coke last night. He asked me not to snitch, told him I wouldn't. (there's no point, they either test him or not, and if not, they'll get him next time, but I don't want to forever lose his trust.). They called him out and that's the last I saw him.
    Thinking about this, there are 2 more students who were major problems, and they both got locked up.
    They'd all be back, in 30-60 days, but it's interesting that my major behavior problem kids have some major issues. So it's not just me not being able to handle them, but actually a judge thinking they need help as well (in this case it's big consequences).
    Boy A was going to be put in a different class so he wouldn't see the girl that sets him off, but we only have 4 days left from this quarter, so my P said he was gonna have a choice to go back to class and handle it, or do his work in the office for the time being. Hopefully he shows up tomorrow.
     
  21. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    Oct 8, 2013

    Linguist~I would be eaten alive in the environment you teach in! You do amazing work with these kiddos.

    Regarding Boy B, I wonder if his behaviors in your class stem from anxiety about going to 6th period? Maybe he starts to think about that class and to get his mind off the anxiety, he misbehaves.

    I think a lot of Boy A's misbehaviors stem from him still grieving over the loss of his mother and not really knowing how to cope with his feelings.
     

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