1. Prevention through effective classroom management
A well-prepared class will capture the energy of the students and prevent a certain amount of disruptive and negative Behavior patterns. Young people need consistency combined with new experiences, in order to stay actively engaged in learning.
Here are a few strategies for creating a successful classroom atmosphere:
Create a safe and positive environment
o Brainstorm a list of rules and agreements with your students that they think will help make the class run successfully and support their learning (in general, young people are more likely to commit to group goals when they have been part of the decision making process)
o Re-write the list of agreed upon rules, so students can refer to them if necessary (make sure these rules are clear, not too long and easy to understand)
o Maintain a consistent beginning, middle and end to your class
o Treat everyone equally
o Be consistent with rules and consequences and make expectations clear
o Integrate creative games to maintain energy and add elements of surprise
o Learn the name’s of all of your students and make sure to give them all an equal amount of positive attention
o Reward positive Behavior and successful goal achievement’s, publicly
Keep in mind that you do not have to be liked by your students. You are there to teach and be a mentor, not their friend. However, it is important that they show respect for you and you show compassion and respect towards them. Show that you care, by listening to them and by supporting them in making positive Behavior choices by maintaining consistent rules and a safe, positive environment. In time, if you are consistent with boundaries and rules, they will have greater respect for you and will most likely grow to like you.
2. Redirection and coaching
Sometimes, if negative or disruptive Behavior is minimal, basic redirection or coaching can alleviate the problem.
o Coaching Behavior means to train a young person on how to deal with a frustrating situation and their emotions surrounding the issue, before the problem escalates into a larger conflict.
o Redirecting Behavior means to distract or draw a child’s Behavior away from whatever is causing the disruptive Behavior and engage them in a different type of activity that gains their interest.
Here are some Tips on how to address this behavior:
o Respond immediately and be consistent.
o Start with a response that is the least restrictive.
o Match the severity of the consequence with the degree of behavior.
o Follow through with the consequence.
o Certain types of Behavior can be addressed in front of the class, (if other students are likely to repeat the same behavior). Although, some problems need to be discussed in a private conversation, so the participant does not get embarrassed in front of his or her peers.
Level of consequences:
1. The first level is to speak with the young person about the problem and discuss what to do about it.
2. The second step is to have the child sit out for 5 to 10 minutes to think about the behavior. (Have them sit away from the group, but still within your visibility).
3. The third level is to send them out of the class to your facility supervisor and seek advice from the facility staff about the student after class time. (Often they will know more about the student and have some suggestions).
4. The fourth is to talk with the child’s guardian and make the guardian aware of the child’s Behavior in class.
5. If all else fails, the last step is to suspend the child for a period of time from your class.
Conflict Resolution when two or more students are involved:
1. Stop the arguing or fighting, explain that you understand their feelings, but to solve the problem they must be able to talk about it one at a time and listen to one another. (They may need time a part, to sit out and cool off, before they are able to discuss the issue).
2. Once they each have had time to cool off and are ready to talk about the conflict, they need to be able to really listen to one another and talk about it without ridiculing or threatening each other.
3. After both have had a chance to listen to one another, make a brief summary of what you heard happened and what you understand the problem to be.
4. Then ask for ideas about how this problem can be solved. Ask how the situation could be dealt with differently in the future. Ask them what they need from each other to feel at peace with the conflict. (They may need suggestions, but ask them first).
WATCH OUT for giving too much attention or class time to negative behavior. Maintain the focus of your class on what you are there to teach and those who are there to learn and engaged in positive behavior. Often, children act out because they are seeking attention or they have not had the opportunity to learn tools to manage their own behavior.