Classroom & Behavior Management Advice

Discussion in 'Special Education' started by Ms.N, Sep 21, 2010.

  1. Ms.N

    Ms.N New Member

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    Sep 21, 2010

    I'm a first-year teacher with 4 students, and having a difficult time managing some of their behaviors. I know a lot of it is par for the course, and I'm trying not to take it personally, but I'm getting a bit discouraged.

    The majority of the behaviors they display are "testing" me, but I've yet to find an effective way to get them back on track. 3 of them just laugh at me, no matter what I do.

    I've done my best to not get flustered or let them know that I'm frustrated, but I'm sure that they're able to read my emotions despite my best efforts to hide them.

    How do I get them to take me seriously and follow my instructions instead of thinking I'm just a big joke? Anyone have any pearls of wisdom....or better yet, a magic wand? :blush:
     
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  3. bros

    bros Phenom

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    Sep 21, 2010

    What behaviors are they doing to test you?

    What kind of population are you dealing with (LD, MR, etc.)?
     
  4. Ms.N

    Ms.N New Member

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    Sep 22, 2010

    I have pre-k kiddos, and they vary. A couple of AU, ADHD, etc. The biggest issue is just that I have no control over them. At any given moment I may have two running around squealing, chasing each other and getting the others riled up as well. It seems like even if I can get 2 calmed down and seated for an activity, at least 1 of the others is back up running, or crawling under the table, or taking off their shoes, etc. And when I try to redirect or stop the behaviors they just grin and/or say "no" and/or laugh, etc.

    I feel like I should be able to get a handle on this, and I just can't. They won't listen to me at all. My mentor teacher can walk in and get them under control in an instant, but they won't follow my instruction hardly at all. One student in particular will only obey directions from my mentor, and seems to be displaying behaviors with me that she's never seen displayed before. It's hard to not be discouraged and feel like maybe I'm just not "good" at this!
     
  5. bethechange

    bethechange Comrade

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    Sep 22, 2010

    Mrs N.,

    I teach elementary autism, but have taught K and pre-K special ed. It is definitely challenging to start out from the proverbial scratch! With organization, structure, and consistency, though, it can be done!

    1. Visual supports.The key to behavior management with kids with autism is structure structure structure and visual organization. Are your kids using visual schedules? If not, I definitely suggest it. Sometimes, especially if it is the first experience in school, kids with autism do better working on individual tasks. Using visual supports such as First/Then cards w/photos attached allows you to "stack" a child's schedule so that you can use a motivating activity to get them to do one they are not so crazy about. First, read a story, then, play with blocks, etc.

    2. You mentioned group times being a challenge. I have found that even high-functioning, very verbal kids with autism do not participate in groups **just** because it is time/the teacher said so, etc. There has to be something in it for them. They have to have some external motivation. I would encourage you to rethink your groups and how motivating the activities are to your particular kids. Also, you have to start small, reinforce success/the behaviors you are working toward, and build up gradually. Asking the kids to sit for 10-15 minutes doing all the same activity might be too hard for them. Maybe start group time by just doing a quick song, etc. Try to pick something that your hardest kids really like (if you have a kid that loves the Wiggles, for example - sing a Wiggles song). Have visual rules and a visual mini-schedule of what you will be doing. Reinforce appropriate behavior. Then you can add quick activities to the front end. First, calendar. Then, sing Wiggles, etc. You can also reinforce kids right at group time for behavior you expect. "Good sitting - here's a goldfish cracker!" etc.

    Some kids need you to direct teach them group time routines 1:1prior to being expected to sit in a group with peers. Once I spent my entire first month of school teaching group routines during my 1:1 teach time for every kid - but it waaaaay paid off because then I was able to do so much in a group.

    Visual supports! My paras and I all carry a ring with Stop, Wait, Sit, Clean Up, Check Schedule, etc in our pockets at all times. They go a long way in communicating behavioral expectations.

    In general, when you give directions to kids:

    1. be sure you are using words a child can understand. Kids with autism, even very verbal kids who can talk your ear off need short, clear directives. Don't overexplain. Just state what you want. "Time to sit," etc.
    2. try to phrase behavioral expectations positively instead of telling them "no" or "stop." Instead of "no running," try "walk" or "come sit" or whatever you want them to do. More often than not, they've heard so much "no" that it either means nothing or is a big game to them.
    3. use visual supports to communicate/reinforce communication whenever possible
    4. label, praise and reinforce appropriate behavior CONSTANTLY. "good sitting," etc. Constantly. Pair social reinforcement with tangible reinforcement at first - then fade the tangibles.
    5. don't be afraid to physically prompt what you want. You might have to start small and reinforce to success - "sit down," followed by you physically placing a child in a chair. Once the child is seated, praise, reinforce with whatever the child likes, and gradually build up time.

    I just posted a bunch of pictures and stuff about kindergarten autism on another thread - I think it was called Kindergarten Autism - first week activities? There was more stuff on there about teaching behavior, pictures of visual supports, etc. Might help also.

    Sorry this is so scrambly - I just got home and haven't eaten dinner yet! Good luck. It will get better. Hang in there and be visual, clear, and consistent! They will get it. It just takes time.
     
  6. bros

    bros Phenom

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    Sep 22, 2010

    How many para's do you have?

    Also, what does the mentor do to get them under control. Emulate that.
     
  7. Kate Change

    Kate Change Companion

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    Sep 23, 2010

    I like Bethechanges advice. Visual schedules are a great place to start. Teaching routines is something I do a lot of time on. That way, on the days when the visual schedule falls apart, we can keep it together with the routines. We have routines that are explicitly taught for each area. "This is how we go to circle." and then we practice walking nicely as a group to circle. "This is how we sit at circle". And we sit nicely. It feels a bit silly teaching the routines at first, but once the kiddos get them, it makes a big difference.

    We also use the same language for routines. This seems to help the students with autism. We say "circle time is finished. It's time to check schedule. It's time for snack." This sounds a little silly, but I think the repetitive nature helps them to behave correctly.
     
  8. Ms.N

    Ms.N New Member

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    Sep 25, 2010

    Thank you everyone for all your wonderful ideas and advice! This was a particularly rough week, but after some words of encouragement from my mentor and another visiting consultant who observed my classroom, I'm feeling a bit better.

    I will definitely work on implementing some of these strategies in my classroom next week. So thanks again!
     

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