Most teachers would probably agree that classroom behavior management can be tough sometimes. On one hand, disability classifications are important because they are a necessary part of the Special Education process, but they are, by nature, general. They don’t pinpoint a kid’s unique behaviors or what those behaviors may be trying to communicate. And by the same token, many kids in Gen Ed settings also struggle with behavioral issues.
While it is true that cognitive delays, attention deficits, and communication and social delays are more common in children with special needs, many typical children experience the same types of difficulties as their peers in Special Ed. Many of these struggles can lead to problems with behavior.
I’ve worked on classroom behavior management for just about forever and I’ve learned a lot from some of my amazing colleagues! I’ve taught Pre-K -8th Grade students in Special Ed & in Gen Ed. And sometimes it seems to me as if there’s a big line drawn in the sand separating the two groups.
Let’s Look at this Another Way
Through the years I’ve come to learn one very important thing – kids are kids! Yes, they are all unique but so very much alike at the same time. The very same classroom behavior management strategies can be effective with most kids in both General and Special Ed settings.
My Top Ten Tools for Effective Classroom Behavior Management
#1 Consistency – Say what you mean and mean what you say. Consistent behavior and actions help to build an environment of truthfulness and trust in the classroom.
#2 Defined Expectations – Kids should know exactly what’s expected of them – no guessing here! If you work with a team have all adults in the classroom on board with common and clearly defined expectations.
#3 Structure – It may not seem like it at times but kids crave structure. They may act like they want to be in charge but the truth is that being in charge is really very scary for a child. They want and need a captain for their ship. Be that captain!
#4 Routines – Routines help to provide structure, foster good habits and reduce anxiety. Where would you be without your routines? Classroom routines are essential for kids.
#5 Kindness– A little kindness in the classroom can go a long way in creating positive relationships with kids. And you’ll be modeling the very behaviors you want to see them emulate.
#6 Validation – Kids appreciate having their perspective and feelings recognized just as much as their grown-up counterparts. Be open to their ideas and feelings and they’ll be open to yours.
#7 Flexibility – Structure, and routines may be essential but flexibility is just as important. Model adaptability so your kids can learn to adapt to change, acclimate to different roles and responsibilities and increase their levels of independence.
#8 A Sense of Humor– It’s okay to laugh. In fact, it’s better then okay it’s downright awesome! Humor helps to create a comfortable classroom environment, it eases tension and can even promote creativity. So go ahead, make em laugh!
#9 Choices – Whenever possible let kids know that ultimately their response to your request is their choice. Never back kids into a wall or engage in power struggles. Limited choices encourage kids to cooperate through a perceived sense of empowerment.
#10 Support – I’m not talking about just academic support or extra help. Always try to respond to the different needs of your kids. Try to keep in mind that kids receive different levels of support at home. Get to know the kids in your class. Maybe some kids need school supplies, maybe some kids need to do their homework or other home assignments in class, maybe some kids need an extra gentle tone today. Be that one person that is always there for them and that they can always count on no matter what!
I would love to hear about some of your top tools for managing classroom behavior in the comments!