78 percent of U.S. high schools report at least one serious disciplinary action daily or weekly (NCES, 2018). Middle schools report 61 percent, and elementary schools report 18 percent.
Socially and emotionally lagging skills are creating acting out student behaviors in our classrooms, and these behaviors do not go away despite a change in the learning environment.
While COVID-19 has relocated our traditional classrooms to computer screens, it has not changed student behavior. Teachers have always been masters at content and classroom management, and our relocation has not changed this either. But what it has changed are the methodologies that we use to be masterful at what we do!
Online classroom management should focus on the positive, promote expected norms, AND allow teachers to easily track the data!
Classroom behavior management strategies need to be
-quick reinforcers that promote expected behaviors, deter unexpected behaviors, and do NOT interrupt learning.
Classroom behavior management strategies should have a goal to
All we have to do is apply those same principles to our new way of teaching!
So here are 3 Steps to Positive Behavior Management for Distance Learning:
Don’t throw out your good teaching practices!
Open your online classroom just as you would your traditional classroom. Establish 3 to 5 norms for your online classroom. Use positive student-friendly language and pair each norm with a visual to support ALL learners.
You can grab some Student AND Parent Virtual Classroom Meeting Expectations HERE!
EXPLICITLY teach these norms to your students before expecting them to demonstrate them. Read books about them, have them watch short clips, role play, model, AND continue to reinforce those expected norms!
For the majority of students, the game may be enough of a reinforcer (we will talk more about the game in a moment). However, for other students, you may need to come up with some earns…
-virtual lunch with the teacher
-class meeting ends 5 minutes early
-virtual field trips
-get out of one assignment free card
Resistant students, with more lagging social and emotional skills, benefit from time with the teacher, establishing these reinforcers with the student ahead of time to be able to determine the greatest motivator. Remember - the greatest motivator will increase a drive to demonstrate the expected behaviors.
Use Google Forms to play a positive behavior game.
Here is a quick tutorial on How to Make a Google Form for Student Behavior:
With a small group or a whole class, your positive behavior game can be played as a student versus teachers game. Students get a point when they are on-task, following classroom or school norms, etc. The teacher gets a point when students are off-task. Whoever has the most points at the end of the day wins.
When working one-on-one with a student, the game can be played in the same manner or you can establish a goal with a student ahead of time. Each time the student demonstrates the goal, the student earns a point.
Teachers can also use these forms (or points) as behavior data tracking tools. You can record the points while students are participating in Google Meets with the general education classes as well!
Here is How to Give and Track Student Behavior Using Google Forms:
And don’t forget to explain why the points were earned to the student! This can be quick (“Zoe, nice job demonstrating your goal of following directions the first time. You earned a point for that.) The why and the emotion connected becomes internalized when we explicitly reinforce expected behaviors. The intrinsic feeling attached to the earn (i.e. praise or a point) internalizes a motivation to continually strive to have that feeling again, and it quickly becomes learned that the demonstration of an expected behavior provides those good internal feelings!
Because the student is always earning in this game (not losing anything), it eliminates the power struggle. If the teacher earns a point, no big deal because students can quickly make a change to have a chance to win!
However, you should still discuss and reflect upon what was learned in this game!
To learn more, check out this video on I apply these tips in my online classroom:
With these 3 steps, online classroom management focuses on the positive, promotes expected norms, AND allows you to easily track the data!
Happy and Healthy Teaching,
Start reshaping behavior in in 4 simple steps...
1. Write the expected behavior onto an index card.
Some examples of expected behaviors include...
-I did my work!
-I did my homework!
-I participated in the small group!
-I participated in morning meeting!
-I participated in the whole group!
-I showed kindness!
-I used kind words!
-I showed perseverance!
-I raised my hand!
-I tried my best!
-I raised my hand -without blurting out.
-I showed self control!
Be specific with your expected behaviors like...
-I am prepared for class -with (fill in the blank)
Expected behaviors can also increase in the demand...
-I followed directions!
-I followed directions -the first time
-I used a cool down strategy.
-I used a cool down strategy -independently
2. Choose an exciting reward for when the punch card is completed!
You may want to involve the student in choosing. This will reinforce the power of the reinforcer!
3. Decide how many times a student needs to demonstrate the expected behavior to earn a reinforcer.
You can involve the student in negotiating this as well.
The more control the student has in a decision, the more the student buys in!
4. Draw stars, circles, checkmarks, etc. around the outside of the index card for the amount of earns that you negotiate with the student.
For example, if you decide that the Kellie needs to do her homework ten times before earning a homework pass, then, you might draw 10 stars around the outside of the index card. Each time Kellie does her homework, punch a hole over one of the stars.
Or SAVE TIME and grab my Positive Behavior Punch Cards...
And use these 4 simple steps instead...
1. Print on colored cardstock.
3. Punch a hole on a smiley face each time you catch the student doing the desired behavior.
4. Don't forget to choose an exciting reward for when the punch card is completed!
Either way - Positive Behavior Punch Cards reinforce behaviors!
By Miss Rae
When students push, give them a hug.
The first day I met Jon, he entered my class followed by one of the school’s many Crisis Interventions. After exchanging some words, it appeared that Jon had not followed an instruction that he was given. The Crisis Interventionist was clearly angry, and Jon was clearly not. And most obvious to me was that Jon was in control of the entire situation. He made the situation go the way he wanted. I respected him for that. I saw the leader in him. I also saw the challenge of fostering the POSITIVE leader in him.
Over the next few months, Jon and I fostered a strong relationship. He was a positive leader in our classroom community. I made sure to allow him to always feel safe and in control when he could be. But then, one day, everything changed. He walked into class, told me he hated me, and then, proceeded to do everything in his power to show me how much he hated me.
Jon had been diagnosed with something called Reactive Attachment Disorder or RAD, as it’s known.
RAD is a condition characterized by markedly disturbed and developmentally inappropriate ways of relating socially in most contexts
When a baby is repeatedly comforted and cared for, an attachment forms with the caregivers. Baby’s who have their needs met learn to love and trust others, develop healthy relationships, regulate emotional responses to situations, be aware of others’ emotions and needs, and have a positive self-image.
On the other hand, when a baby experiences abuse and neglect at the hands of caregivers, attachments do not form. Failure to establish these expected bonds negatively impacts children, leading to possible depression, irritability, and mistrust and/or fear of trusting adults or peers.
Repeated abuse and neglect can leave children at-risk for RAD.
The signs and symptoms of RAD include the following…
-Failure to reach out when picked up or interest in peek-a-boo
-Unexplained withdrawal, fear, sadness or irritability
-Sad and listless appearance
-Not seeking comfort or showing no response when comfort is given
-Failure to smile
-Watching others closely but not engaging in social interaction
-Failing to ask for support or assistance
But RAD is a rare disorder. The majority of children who experience repeated abuse and neglect, including those that have been bounced around to multiple caregivers and experienced abuse and neglect with each, do not develop RAD.
Wait! What?! How is it rare when I can think of at least 3 students in my classroom that exhibit these symptoms?!
Modern-day students make this disorder feel like the norm, right?!
Some of our students have been hurt and let down by adults in the past. When something happens to someone over and over, it becomes an expected behavior. So instead of being let down by another adult who you have started to care about, why not push them away? Isn't that easier? Then, that adult can't hurt you. That adult can let you down like all of the others have.
Not only did Jon state in front of the whole class how much he hated me, he also continued to tell them why he hated me, including my stupidity and ugly appearance in his tirade. He refused to participate in morning meeting, getting two others to follow his choice after explaining how boring morning meeting is. During reading, he broke the picture of my puppy on my desk and twenty minutes later, threw a chair at me. And at the end of the day, I told him that I didn’t know what I had done to upset him, but I couldn’t change unless he told me. I also told him that I cared for him, I didn’t like to see him this upset, and tomorrow is a new day!
The next day he came in and quietly observed the class for the day, never once speaking to me.
At the end of the day, I told him that I was happy to see that he seemed less angry, but I missed the old Jon. Tomorrow would be a new day.
After that, Jon acted as if those two days never happened. He did push again at times, but never so intensely.
Trauma leaves an impact. No matter the trauma, a person’s brain is essentially altered in terms of thinking, emotional regulation, and response to fears.
So when a student pushes you away, don't let them. Instead, let them know that you are not like the other adults who have let them down in the past. Let them know that you are not going anywhere. They aren't going to be able to push you away - just give it up, kid
When students push, give them a hug.
By: Miss Rae
Calling all teachers!!!! Does this sound familiar???
“Suzy isn’t friends with me anymore. She called me a bad name at lunch.” ...or...
“Boys and girls, we have been so chatty in our groups that we are not finishing our work.” ...or how about...
“Johnny keeps cutting me in line.” ...or...
“Class, the rule is that we are silent when we travel as a class in the hallway. We have been late to lunch all week because our line has to keep stopping and waiting for students to stop talking.”
And how about these???
“I read this math problem. Now what? How do I solve this math problem?”
“Why did the American Revolution happen? I don’t see where it says it in the text.”
“Who knows why the character chose to do that? What was she thinking?”
And then, there are the questions we ask ourselves:
How do we teach our students to independently problem solve???
How do we teach them how to solve their social conflicts???
How do we teach them to challenge themselves in their own learning in order to grow as a learner???
Our students do not know how to solve problems! They have not learned how to analyze problems before jumping right in!
So, here is what I do!
I use the Analyzing a Problem Classroom Protocol! And I use it in my academic content area instruction AND for solving classroom management issues!
Analyzing a Problem Classroom Protocol includes a step-by-step structured approach for students for analyzing problems prior to attempting to solve them! This protocol gives educators an approach to follow to work together in order to solve classroom community and academic problems!
Analyzing a Problem Classroom Protocol:
-Presenter describes the problem and asks a focus question.
-Group members ask clarifying questions.
-The Facilitator facilitates Response Rounds, eliciting responses from each group member to the presented problem.
-The Presenter should take notes throughout the process and then reads the notes aloud.
-The Presenter asks “What options for solution did our group present?”
-Make a list of the solutions.
Optional: Debrief the team process: What were the team’s strengths? Difficulties? What helped the team work together? How can difficulties be improved next time?
Happy problem solving!
By Miss Rae
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The news has never been my happy place, but it's been especially upsetting in 2018. From mass shootings in places of worship and schools to mail bombings, our world is a scary place. And obviously, we are all very upset about this.
But why are we not addressing mental illness in this country?!
Sometimes I feel like screaming. There is never enough time in the day to get everything I need to get done. I'm literally running at my highest capacity every minute of every day. I've never felt so stressed in my life.
We are all running on high all day; intensifying and exhausting our emotional and mental capacities.
Our students are feeling the same.
And now, we are both forced into the integrated experience of the classroom, where naturally, our actions and words affect the actions and words of others within the same microcosm of the classroom.
Previously, students could be targeted and remediated on a case by case basis, but with today's prevalence, SUPPORTS MUST BE MAINSTREAMED.
And those supports MUST address our students mental health needs.
Okay, so this isn't going to be simple. And we can start with baby steps.
In moments of heightened anxiety, we can stop, breathe, and re-center ourselves. Similarly, if we insert these moments, forcibly, into our day, including our time with students, where we stop and breathe (i.e. a mindfulness activity, yoga, go noodle, etc.), we can stop running at such a high level, and perhaps, we begin to regulate our emotions as well.
We need to teach this to our students because it does not come naturally anymore. This is the world now. This is us. These are our students.
1. Build a Classroom Community
A classroom community means that students trust and support each other. They feel safe to accept and give feedback and take risks.
Spend the first month and some time each week throughout the year playing a classroom-based community-building game to build trust and problem-solving and cooperative learning skills.
2. Address SE (social emotional) needs
Start your Mondays off right - by addressing your students' social emotional needs!
Welcome them into the week with a friendly morning greeting! Ease them back with some conversation to set the tone... What's one thing you are looking forward to this week? What's one thing that will make you happy this week? What is your goal for this week?
3. Infuse SEL (social emotional learning) into our current content
We barely have time in the day to use the restroom, right?! How could we possibly fit another block of time into our day to teach SEL? Well, you don't have to. Much of our current curriculum lends itself to SE learning skills. Stories in history and ELA, games in Math, giving and receiving feedback, and working collaboratively in the science lab all lend themselves to SE skills. What we do need, then, is professional development on SE skills! Are you listening higher ups?
4. Explicitly Teach Pro-Social Skills
Teach expected behaviors and do it explicitly. State the rule, role play what the rule looks like and doesn't look like, discuss the rule, praise students you see displaying the rule, etc.
AND hold students accountable. Consequences are a natural part of life. Develop reasonable consequences that match infractions AND make sure they are enforceable. Consequences must abide by the school rules, but they also have to be consequences that you are willing to implement. If you say a student is going to stay in for recess, does the school allow this AND are you willing to give up your time to be inside with this student?
5. Make Teacher Self Care a Priority
You are good to your students. Be good to yourself! The saying is true - you cannot pour from an empty cup. Take care of yourself first!
~By Miss Rae
One of the most important factors in behavior management is data tracking!
Without the data, interventions are just an opinion! How do we know what’s working and what’s not working without the data?
We track the data! Tracking the data is the way to change the behavior!
Let me give you an example of data tracking with a common classroom issue -
How do you handle a student who swears in your classroom?
For the minor offense (i.e. it slips out in conversation or out of frustration), I acknowledge it and I redirect...
“Let’s watch our language as that is inappropriate for school.”
(As with all redirections of behavior, you want to make sure you explain why you are asking for the behavior to be corrected. Answer the question: What is the behavior’s negative impact?)
With a major swearing offended, you are going to take a different approach. A student who chooses to swear or swears multiple times in one period is a major offender.
With these major offenders, DO NOT acknowledge the swear!
And I repeat - DO NOT!
By acknowledging the swear, you are actually reinforcing swearing.
start by obtaining a baseline. You will get this if you have tracked the data or by tracking the data!
Example: Cam swears 20 times in 60 minutes on average…
Next, have an honest conversation with your student...
"Your goal is to swear less and here’s why we need to reduce your swearing..."
Then, implement the intervention!
AND begin tracking the data!
The intervention is to reinforce the expected behavior. When the student doesn’t swear...
"Oh good job, Cam! Here's a merit for not swearing in the last 5 minutes."
Build the time frame of the reinforcer! Depending on baseline data and continued progress monitoring data, the reinforcer (i.e.merits) can build toward a bigger reinforcer (i.e. lunch with the teacher, homework pass). The reinforcer should be something reinforcing BUT within reason!
Over time, the reinforcer fades as the behavior is phased out!
~By Miss Rae