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Classroom Management to Handle Behavioral Problems

Janelle Cox

Using classroom management to control students’ behavior is by far one of the most challenging tasks that teachers have. A lot of the time, teachers are completely unaware of what is going on in their students’ home lives, which oftentimes is the reason for the students’ undesirable behavior in school.  Likewise, as students grow up, they have to deal with a variety of social and emotional changes that may result in the disruption of their behavior. However, with a little forethought and some creative classroom management, teachers can turn their students’ unfavorable behavior around. Here are a few classroom management steps to help you approach behavioral problems in your class, as well as a few teaching strategies to help you handle those behavioral problems.

Classroom Management to Approach the Behavioral Problem

Follow these three steps to help you determine what the students’ behavioral problem is, so that you can figure out how to fix it.

1. Make a List of Your Students’ Behavioral Problems

The first step to figuring out how to approach your students’ unwanted behavior is to make a list of all of the undesirable behavior the students are exhibiting. You can start by taking one full day to just observe a single student. Write down everything that the student is doing that is not acceptable. For example, “Joey is disrupting his neighbor by poking him with a pencil,” or “Joey is blurting out during the reading lesson.” Be as specific as you can when taking your notes (this will help you in the next step).

2. Choose the Behavior You Want to Correct

The next step is to take a close look at your detailed notes that you took. You are looking for any reccurring behavior patterns. Most of the time, students who have behavioral issues have more than one. Your goal during this step is to choose just one behavior to correct at a time. So look for one that sticks out, like blurting out or bothering other students.

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3. Brainstorm All Triggers of the Unwanted Behavior

The last step is to think about why the student is exhibiting this behavior. Look at where the behavior is taking place (the classroom, gym class, recess), what time it occurs (morning, lunch, transition periods), and who the student is bothering (teacher, student, girl, boy). Once you have gathered this information, then you can finally develop a strategy.

How to Handle the Behavioral Problem

Now that you have figured out the behavior that you want to correct, you can develop a strategy to correct it. Here are a few suggestions that will help you meet the needs of the student, as well as help change their undesirable behavior to a more appropriate behavior.

Blurting out in Class

If the child is constantly blurting out in class, then there are a few things that you can do. First, you need to explain and model the value of respecting others when they are talking. Next, you can give the student three tokens. Tell them that each time they want to comment or ask a question, they must give you a token. But they only get three tokens per lesson. This will help them from blurting out when you are teaching. Lastly, you can give the student a sticky notepad and tell them every time they get the urge to blurt something out in class, to write it on their sticky note, and they can share it with you later.

Bothering Other Students

If the child is continually bothering other students because they are trying to avoid doing their work, you need to rethink your seating arrangement. Place them in a seat where they are unable to bother anybody or even be tempted to. In addition to that, you can look at what the students’ interests are. When children are bored, they tend to talk to their classmates or become distracted. Take a closer look at your lessons and see if you are meeting the needs of all of your students. Sometimes, all you have to do is make sure your lessons are a little more engaging and of interest to the child who is misbehaving.

If the student is bothering other students because it helps them to avoid schoolwork (perhaps they fear they are unable to do it), then you need to teach that child some positive skills. You can also attach a reward like a “Get out of homework pass” or a “Free fun Friday pass.”

Being the Class Clown

If the student is gaining the attention of their fellow students by being the class clown, then you need to teach them the appropriate ways to gain attention from their peers. These types of students may benefit from a leadership role. Try putting them in charge of their group or giving them the opportunity to stand out in class somehow.

The targeted behavior that you are working on with the student will not disappear in one day -- it takes time. But if you notice within a week or so that the undesirable behavior that the student was exuding is less frequent, then you know that you are on the right track. Once the behavior has been eliminated, it is only then that you can tackle the next behavior that was on your list.

Do you have any classroom management tips or suggestions on how to approach and handle behavior problems in the classroom? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below, we would love to hear what you do.

Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds a Master's of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com and TeachHUB Magazine. She was also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com for five years. You can follow her on Twitter @Empoweringk6ed, on Facebook at Empowering K6 Educators, or contact her at Janellecox78@yahoo.com.