I am a special education teacher and would like to set up a very structured behavior system this year.However, every year I brainstorm over the summer without knowing my students. Then, I after getting to know the students, I often have to change things. Do you think this is confusing to students? Do you have a behavior system that you always use? Do you change it year to year?
I know that my class this year will need a very structured environment and want to plan accordingly.
Finally, does anyone have behavior plans that provide positive reinforcement, but also make students accountable for their behavior? I used the clip chart system last year, which I did like. However, I dont think it was enough for students who have more severe behaviors.
I am a school psychologist who has experince with teens and pre-teens in residential treatment. I have a brief series of lesson that I developed to work with my students. One teacher of 10-12 year old students with emotional and behavior challenges found them very helpful. Would you be interested? They address behavioral issues.
It is not really a series of lessons plans per se because the uniqueness of this is not the subject matter but the delivery.It is also in giving this information proactively rather than reactively (reactively, students are almost assured to be in some degree of defensiveness and not really receptive to anything but saving face).
It is a brief series of interactive lessons that I conducted with my students. I am a school psychologist but they can be used by any teacher who has enough time with students to conduct the lessons. There are six lessons, each 30-45 long. They need to be demonstrated and, for the summer, I have been doing free trainings via Skype. The lessons are for teens and pre-teens but the training will also interest people who work with younger students as well.
I have a proposal that explains the program in depth but (since there is not way for me to attach a word document here) I have excerpted the part of the proposal that outlines the lessons in brief. If you look it over and want me to show you how I conduct the lessons with students, you can message me. People tend to really like the training.
Synopsis of the Six Lessons
The lessons include three fundamental concepts of decision making that students need to understand in order to make good decisions. In order to access these concepts, there are two basic processes that students need to understand. There is a sixth lesson as well. Along with the motivation to be mature, students have various personal goals which are important to them and can help shore up their determination to do the right thing when given the choice. Thus, I use goal setting as the sixth lesson. This lesson also includes a discussion of evaluating ones behavior.
I have structured the lessons/discussions so that they are visual and interactive. As previously stated, I am available to give a presentation of my work in which I am better able to demonstrate the visual and interactive nature of the lessons.
The breakdown and sequence of the 6 lessons are as follows:
The goal of this lesson is to teach students that they do have choices even in challenging situations and how making the responsible choice by choosing responsible behavior actually benefits them.
Students are asked about stressful or challenging situations in their lives. It is explained that when such a situation arises we may be able to deal with the situation with minimal stress. But, sometimes the situation can be more challenging. At these times, there is a choice to be made. Sometimes we are able to make a good choice (and this includes a discussion of what that may be in general problem solving terms with the students). At other times, we may not. There is a discussion regarding what happens when we make a bad choice and how we recover from it. Part of this discussion also stresses to students that human beings are not perfect and the point is not to blame others, make excuses or cover up (feel ashamed of) their mistake but, when things are calmer, to take another look and see what could have been done differently. This is essential in the problem-solving process. We often have difficulty making decisions in the moment but, 20/20 hindsight can be helpful. This is also an essential lesson because some challenging situations can be triggers and triggers tend to be repetitive. Students learn that recognizing these potential problem spots and being able to figure out ways to deal with them is a hallmark of maturity. It is interesting to me that some of students have learned what triggers them, but they are unaware that they can learn and should learn coping skills for these triggers.
Lesson # 2
The goal of this lesson is to make students aware that behavior doesn’t ‘just happen.’ Students learn how behavior works and that how they react or behave depends totally on how they think and that how they think is a choice.
I call this lesson Psychology 101 or How Behavior Works. It is a presentation of the basic tenets of cognitive behavioral therapy. If we want students to have control over their behavior, it makes sense to teach them what causes us to react or behave in a certain way. Given a situation, children tend to think that they not only will, but must respond in a certain way. They do not understand that how they think and feel determines how they will react. So, this concept is demonstrated for them in an age appropriate way so that they are readily able to understand it. Students learn that how we think impacts how we feel, which in turn determines how we will react in a given situation. The goal is for students to understand how thinking is the linchpin or crucial element in controlling behavior.
The goal of this lesson is twofold. I want students to understand that they are expected to assess/evaluate their own behavior. In order to do this, they need to be honest with themselves. The second goal is to help cement the connection in students’ minds between meeting our goals each day and achieving future success.
The link between self-honesty and trustworthiness are discussed with students. No one is perfect and so the idea is to evaluate the probemmatic situation and try to figure out what we can learn from it because learning new proble-solving skills is a step towards self-empowerment and being grown up. The concept of success is then discussed in general terms. This includes discussing how having balance in life, having serenity/a sense of calm rather than drama in life and that advancing toward your goal are all signs of engaging in successful decision-making. The inter-connection between long and short-term goals is explained. Students are given the opportunity to actually write down their ‘Future’ goals and the ‘Today’ goals which they need to do in order to meet their future goals. Lately, there has been a lot written about using visual imagery to keep people focused on their goals. An option for this lesson would be for classroom or art teachers to help students work on an art project (such as a collage) that could serve as this visual reminder.
The Three Circles - Rules-of-thumb for making good decisions even in challenging situations.
Lesson # 4 – The First Circle
The goal of this lesson is to have children make a commitment to make positive choices.
The first of the three circles is a concept called Positivity. The main concept is that in every situation there is a positive choice. There is a discussion with this because students agree with this, that is, until a challenging situation comes up! The discussion in this lesson centers on what to do if they cannot think of a positive choice at the moment. There are three alternatives that are listed (and all their variations are discussed as well). In general terms, the three alternatives are: to think before we act, find someone we trust to talk to and third, if necessary, walk away, particularly if the situation is volatile.
How do we know if we have acted with Positivity? The ancillary concepts that we discuss are being tactful, acting with self-dignity and being polite/using manners.
Lesson # 5 – The Second Circle
The goal of this lesson is to help children understand that making the right choice is not always the easy/fun thing to do.
We live in a feel good culture. This has caused a tremendous amount of confusion for children. They don’t understand how something can be good for us if it doesn’t feel good in the moment or how something that feels good in the moment can possibly be harmful. That is antithetical to everything they learn from the popular culture. So, the second circle is dedicated to Patience. Valuable things take time. The concepts of self-restraint (stopping oneself from doing the things we know we shouldn’t do) and self-discipline (forcing oneself to do the things we know we have to do, whether or not we are in the mood) are explained. This is the key concept in maturity. Along with this, the ideas of immediate gratification and delay of gratification are also explained to students.
What does patience require? The ancillary concepts we discuss are self-acceptance/being patient with ourselves, being able to accept ‘no’ for an answer/flexibility, and the didactic nature of patience, i.e., what can I learn from that situation?
Lesson # 6 – The Third Circle
The goal of this lesson is to help children understand that it is not only OK to have boundaries, it is crucial to our well-being.
The third circle is devoted to Values. Some values are universal and non-negotiable, other values are individual and negotiable. It is explained to students that all around the world people agree on three things that are basic to success in life. They are universal and non-negotiable. Students are usually able to name them: health/safety, education/job, and family. The rest are negotiable. The three non-negotiables are discussed. It is also stressed that parents are allowed to (and actually expected to by law) make decisions regarding their children’s well-being based on the non-negotiables so that the students can come to a better understanding of (rather than be angry about) their parents responsibility to do that.
Why are these values helpful? The ancillary concepts we discuss are the importance of having boundaries and how these values help us to set priorities in challenging situations and how these values are critical to family and personal stability.
The majority of students with whom I work have difficulty with self-restraint and anger management issues. So, for example, Tanya who has been fighting in school was, as the result of lesson two, clearly able to grasp that choices are available to her even when she is upset and feels that the appropriate reaction is a physical one. As a result of the six lessons, she was clearly able to see that non-physical choices could be as empowering as physical ones. During lesson one, Tanya learned that even when she is angry, it works against her to react physically because neither her peers nor adults want to be controlled by threats or anger just as she herself would not want to be controlled that way. As a result of lesson three, Tanya was able to clearly state her goal for herself; being able to be seen as mature and trustworthy by her friends and family. She stated how much that meant to her. From lessons three through six, Tanya began to understand and connect how making the wrong choice clearly detours her from her goals. She was also able to recommit herself to thinking before she reacts, walking away if a situation is volatile or finding an adult with whom she can talk about the situation. During lesson five, Tanya was clearly able to grasp that reacting in a way that feels good in the moment may have long-term negative
consequences and that restraining herself from reacting may not feel as good in the moment but is a much better choice for her in the long run.
Your lessons sound amazing! Thank you for being so open and willing to share!
Would you mind sending me your lessons plans at this email - email@example.com
Hi Jane. Your lessons sound wonderful! Would you be willing to email a copy to me at firstname.lastname@example.org? I am a special educator and our county's behavior consult. I am always looking for fresh appraoches. Thanks!
Oh my - after two weeks of school - I am in DESPARATE need of some behavior modification. I would love a copy of your lesson plans, Jane. Thanks for your help and for sharing!
When I was teaching middle school, I was given a great behavior system from a veteran special education teacher. I was struggling with the amount of class time I was wasting with discipline and she suggested I try this card system. The card system was very successful for me and after awhile I didn't even have to use it very often because students learned how to behave appropriately and respected the fact that I stuck with the system.
Here is how it worked:
Each student had an index card with their name on it. I always had the cards at hand and actually carried them in a pouch around my neck for awhile. Whenever a student was acting out, I simply walk over to their desk and layed the card in front of them. I did not have to stop my lecture or break my train of thought because after I laid the card down, my job was done.
When I placed the card on a student's desk, they had to write the date and one sentence that described what they were doing that was inappropriate. For example, "8/10- I was throwing paper at Sara while Ms. Gasell was talking."
After a student wrote on their card three times, I made a phone call home and could provide specific concerns written in the student's words. It was a very successful way to communicate with parents and the students couldn't deny it because they wrote it. Also, the cards worked well as documentation on referrals.
Now, sometimes a student refused to write on the card or "didn't know what they did wrong." In that case, I would conference with the student individually until the student understood why what they did was disruptive to the rest of the class.
Now, I did not start this system on the first day of school. It was introduced down the road, after I knew my students. Also, we practiced the card system. This was the fun part! I would call on a student and they would do something "inappropriate" or "disruptive." Then, I would give them their card and they would practice filling it out. The rest of the class laughed as students got creative acting out. One student jumped around like a frog, another threw a paper plane in the air...you get the point.
Overall, I really enjoyed this system and used it with both my regular English classes as well as my lower performing classes. I was able to get so much class time back. My only advice, if you start it, stick with it.
I'd love to hear your feedback if you try it.
I never used a point system. It was really that one year where I struggled with the amount of time I spent disciplining. After that, I taught a two hour reading block and we worked on a rewards system. At the beginning of the week I would present a list of tasks and learning goals that must be met by Friday. If the class worked together to achieve those goals, they got to spend one hour of their two hour class on Friday playing basketball. Since my students had two reading classes and two math classes and NO elective courses, they worked very hard each week to be able to play ball with each other for an hour. I was very fortunate to have support from my administration on this system, as not everyone would agree. Working together each week to achieve the listed goals created a strong bond between us all. These typically low achieving students really stepped up to the plate to learn the material and teach each other so everyone met the goals by Friday. I believe that the lessons they learned while working together as a team were more important than any score on a test...although those were pretty good too!
I ran across this really neat online tool called ClassDojo. It is a behavior management system that can be used online or with a tablet such as an iPad. It seems like a great way to monitor behavior and provides quick and easy feedback to students and parents. I have embedded a great introductory video below. Although I haven't used this system, it seems like it would be great!
I do not have a behavior plan, but I do have a plan I have used in my classroom for 20 years and it has always worked for me! You did not state what grade you teach, but did mention that it is a special education class. My is very visual and for the lower elementary grades. Since it is visual and it holds the student accountable I thought you might like it. It is a color chart behavior system. Students each have a "pocket" with colors in it that THEY change. Each and every day they start out green. If they are caught doing something on task or are behaving well I tell them to change their color "up" that would mean they go to purple. Purple is the "best" color and the others below that are green (good), yellow ( warning), orange( lose a recess), red ( lose 2 recesses), black ( call home or sent to office). I like that they start out green each day and can move up ( to purple) to be better than good. Also, my sysytem lets you ride the colors up and down. That means you could be red at some point and lose 2 recesses but if the behavior changes for the better after that I move them up to orange, then yellow and maybe green if I catch them bein "good" several times. So the student does the physical changing of the color cards, it helps them see where they stand at all times.
Then at the end of each day we have a stamp paper ( just a piece of paper with a big picture of a symbol of the month, ex- I draw a big flower for May, a big heart for February) and I have a student of the week go around to each child and ask them what color they ENDED up on at the end of the day. Purple gets them 2 stamps, green gets one stamp and all others gets them no stamp. At the start of each month I set a goal number of stamps the students should get ( I usually figure out the number of school days in the month, say 18, and add half that number again, so 18 plus 9 (makes 27) to get their goal number). If they reach this goal number they get to pick a prize out of a prize box I have. Filled with donated and small toys I get at Target or inexpensive place). The kids really get into counting how many stamps they have and "see their behavior" in the number of stamps. Plus, I send the paper home at the end of the month and the parents "see" their behavior. It also lets the parents see if the child has been telling the truth about their colors ( I ask each parent to ask what color the student ended up on each night). If they have been telling the parents they were always green or purple and they don't reach the goal, they know something is up.
Hope this helps :-)
I didn't realize that so many people responded to my post. Sorry for the delayed response.
I offer workshops to demonstrate the lessons that I developed. I have offered them through my local BOCES at no charge and I would be willing to come to your school to conduct a workshop to demonstrate the lessons if you are in the NYC area. Otherwise, I can demonstrate the lessons for you via Skype. The workshop is 3 hours.
Because I customize each workshop to address the concerns of the teachers and/or counselors who participate, I do not have a manual although I do have a guide on my website for people to use to review the lessons.
So, please feel free to e-mail me at email@example.com if you are interested. I am offering this workshop free to Thinkfinity users and any colleagues who may want to join them in the training. This way all team members working with a student can be on the same page.
I have a concern about the number of emails in this discussion. It might be best if you write Laura a private message or write to her email address, telling her where you saw her offer, and requesting her lesson plan.
Email addresses posted in the community become public information and may gain you unsolicited emails.