Managing Challenging Behaviour by UK Educational Furniture, 16/01/20

Preparation and an organised classroom may set the mood and improve class behaviour, setting the ground rules early on can save a lot of aggro later on.


Preparation and an organised classroom may set the mood and improve class behaviour, setting the ground rules early on can save a lot of aggro later on.

 

Create a safe and uncluttered environment: Furnish with space

The furniture layout and décor can have a significant effect on the behaviour of your class. Whilst it may be tempting to decorate the walls with every resource to hand and fill the room with all the latest supportive school furniture, less is more… Paint with calm neutral colours, leave space on the walls and allow the children to do the decorating. Ensure that there is plenty of room for children to walk around and not feel hemmed in. Consider classroom layouts for your age group such as a circle around an empty central floor space, or rows in the centre of the room with break out areas and some soft seating around the edge of the room.


Set clear rules

·       Setting ground rules may be as simple as “do as you would be done by”. 

·       Have disciplinary procedures in place such as a warning system (3 strikes and…)

·       Be consistent in maintaining rules, enforcing good behaviour and remember to praise your students as well as admonish.

·       Look at the cause of the behaviour. Whilst you can’t change what happens outside, you can manage what happens in your classroom.

·       Ice breaking exercises can also help students gain the courage to talk and deal with their issues.

Take a moment to list behaviours that you find challenging in your classes.

·       Be careful not to make a diagnosis yourself. You may not know all the factors at play.  Leave diagnosis to a doctor but do refer any concerns to the head.

·       Plan how you will deal with these issues.

·       How could you tackle each scenario in a different way?


Some typical issues one might have to deal with

Talking and rebellion, students acting up to cover because they don’t understand what is being taught, ADHD, illness, difficulties at home, fluctuations in hormones, sugar rushes, drug and alcohol consumption.

Dealing with the problem

 

·       Start by pinpointing the cause. Open up dialogue with the class and if necessary, with an individual. Once you establish the cause decide on your plan of action and stick to it.

·       Silence is an effective and simple way to bring your class to attention. Shouting wastes everyone’s energy.

·       One way to tackle chatting in class is to have plenty going on.

Special needs students and support workers may need to be listened to

·       Encourage support workers, help them to help special needs students and you. Talk to them, make your needs clear to them, and listen to theirs too. This support is mutual and you can help each other.

Why might disruptive behaviour be happening?

·       Is this happening because essentially the students are bored. Are they unable to hear what you are saying? Listening to the problem may resolve most situations

·       Have a quiet word after or before class and try to understand what is going on.

·       It may be that they are seeking attention due to other personal issues in their life. If you are not qualified to help, perhaps suggest they talk to someone who is.

·       Focus on room layout and plan space for students to walk in, to relax and think. Too much going on in a classroom may exacerbate any issues related to stress. Resist filling every-last corner and every blank space on the wall and allow some room for students to add their own things and to just “be”.

 

Your classroom, your rules

·       Don’t ignore challenging behaviour, whatever the source. Establish to the best of your ability what the cause is, plan how to tackle the issue and implement your plan. Be positive and consistent in your approach. Never put yourself or others at risk. Remember to look after yourself and keep calm and manage every situation from a position of strength.

Become a master of martial arts

Mastering oneself may enable you to find the inner strength to manage others. If you are calm and in control you may be more able handle most situations. Manage rather than control your classroom.

·       Aggressive postures might put the student on the offensive and anger may cloud your vision and ultimately sap your strength.

·       Think of strategies to take the force out of aggression from a student, martial arts hold some clues as to how to manage aggression and at least mentally we can become adept at transforming negative into positive energy.

·       Setting ground rules may be as simple as “do as you would be done by. 

·       Have disciplinary procedures in place such as a warning system (3 strikes and…) but as a last resort. Aim to build rapport and help students understand when they are behaving badly and why it is not beneficial to them and others. Teach good behaviour with a positive mindset rather than focussing on disruptive behaviour, find ways to circumvent and transform this to a positive by directing the energy elsewhere.

·       Be consistent in maintaining rules, enforcing good behaviour and remember to praise your students as well as admonish.

·       Look at the cause of the behaviour. Whilst you can’t change what happens outside, you can manage what happens in your classroom.

·       Students may have ADHD; they may come from a difficult home or work situation; they may be hyperactive because they binge on sugar; unbalanced due to alcohol consumption(age permitting, but it can still be an issue to look out for in younger children); have a physical health problem; or be inattentive because they have not eaten. Keep an open dialogue with your students. Talking about the weather, their day etc can open the way to much needed conversations that can help you understand and manage things.

·       Ice breaking exercises can also help students gain the courage to talk and deal with their issues.

·       Focus on room layout and plan space for students to walk in, to relax and think. Too much going on in a classroom may exacerbate any issues related to stress. Resist filling every last corner and every blank space on the wall and allow some room for students to add their own things and to just “be”.

Take a moment to list behaviours that you find challenging in your classes.

·       Be careful not to make a diagnosis yourself. You may not know all the factors at play.  Leave diagnosis to a doctor but do refer any concerns to the head.

·       Plan how you will deal with these issues.

·       Deep breath. How do you feel?

·       How could you tackle each scenario in a different way?

·       Have a breakout space or a chair or two in a soothing colour. Somewhere students can calm down and chill out if needed.

Some typical issues one might have to deal with

·       Lateness; rebellion; chatting in class; a student insisting, in the nicest possible way, that they need to express themselves and do their own thing and integrating a special needs student with a lovely but disengaged support worker into an established group. A student that insists on joining in and disrupts the class drawing concern due to sudden drops in energy.

·       Being silent yourself is a simple way to bring your class to attention. Shouting wastes everyone’s energy.

·       One way to tackle chatting in class is to have plenty going on. This way there is no time for people to think or chat. It is also a strategy to avoid rebellion. Rebellion may be caused by a number of factors. You may have taken over a class from someone or someone has covered for you and they teach in a different way and the students are not yet used to your style or enjoyed a different approach.

·       Rebellion is a complex issue. Start by pinpointing the cause. Open up dialogue with the class and if necessary with an individual. Once you establish the cause decide on your plan of action and stick to it. (if you need to adapt do so in a considered way, but from strength rather than giving in as this sends the wrong signal). An individual may take a dislike to you or another class member and act up. Whatever the cause, encourage communication, try to establish the root cause and decide on an appropriate strategy, deal with it accordingly.

 

The student who insists on doing their own thing can be dealt with in a number of different ways

·       You can take them to one side and ask them nicely to join in and explain that independent activity is not appropriate in your class.

 

·       You can ask them to leave the class and go to the head if they are disruptive and won’t listen. It is your class and you are responsible for your students.

Encourage support workers, help them to help their ward and you. Talk to them, make your needs clear to them, and listen to theirs too.

A special needs person joining an existing class can have difficulty integrating.  It is important to discuss and keep an open dialogue with both the new and existing students as well as the support worker. Whilst inclusion is positive, both parties must be aware of the group dynamics. Because someone is special needs does not mean you have to accept deliberate disruptive behaviour. They are separate issues. This is not helpful for anyone. Discuss a management plan with the support worker.

Why might disruptive behaviour be happening?

·       Is this happening because essentially the students are bored?

·       Perhaps ask the student to sit at the back of the class.

·       Are they unable to hear what you are saying so doing their own thing for want of knowing better? Place them at the front centre of the class.

·       You have a whole class to consider. It may be beneficial to ask the support worker to assist by reinforcing help given. A student may also need separate instruction.

Listening may help in many situations

·       Have a quiet word after or before class and try to understand what is going on.

·       It may be that they are seeking attention due to other personal issues in their life. If you are not qualified to help, perhaps suggest they talk to someone who is.

·       Don’t ignore challenging behaviour, whatever the source. Establish to the best of your ability what the cause is, plan how to tackle the issue and implement your plan. Be positive and consistent in your approach. Never put yourself or others at risk. Remember to look after yourself and keep calm and manage every situation from a position of strength.

Preparation and an organised classroom may set the mood and improve class behaviour, setting the ground rules early on can save a lot of aggro later. Listening to your students as individuals and as a group may help prevent and manage issues as they arise.

 

Breathe and stay calm…

·       Self-mastery may enable you to find the inner strength to manage others. Being calm and in control may be more conducive to handling situations. Managing rather than controlling your classroom may prevent problems before they arise.

·       Aggressive postures may send a signal that will cause a fight response, it might put the student on the offensive and anger may cloud their vision (and yours) and ultimately sap your strength.

Planning ahead, decorating simply, setting ground rules and keeping your eyes, ears and senses alert to prevent problems and good communication are some of the most essential things to have in your toolbox for managing challenging behaviour and of course, self mastery.

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