Are there BEHAVIOR classrooms in the public education system? Yes in short, behavior classrooms vary depending on state and school system, I feel they are a necessity in public schools, and can be very beneficial for at-risk students. It amazes me how many people do not know that behavior classrooms exist in the public education system. A behavior classroom is an alternative educational setting (AES). What that means is there is typically a self-contained classroom some where in a school or in your county where students with behavior difficulties go and stay all day. This is not In School Suspension (ISS) where student go for a day or two, but this is an all day every day behavior classroom where students go to learn academic, behavioral, and social skills that will help them eventually return and be successful in a general education classroom and later in life.
If you are a teacher you should be asking yourself, I wonder how a teacher is suppose to work with the hardest kids in the school, county, and sometimes state in one classroom all day and still cover all of the standards and expectations that teachers are expected to cover. It is hard let me tell you!
I teach in a behavior classroom, and I can not imagine going into another behavior classroom or program and starting from scratch. I have went into three new behavior classrooms now, but never from scratch. In my classrooms I have always had seasoned paraprofessionals that had already built positive relationships with the students in the class. The paraprofessionals I have worked with and their love of the students is the reason I have made it as a BEHAVIOR teacher. Yes, I have made it. I have found that these kids need people like me, and my paraprofessionals and I will publicly say, “I will work with at-risk youth the rest of my life.” I know that there are others out there that read my blog, and you have the same drive as me so keep on keeping on is my advice to you. Those of you who are not giving your time to the students with the label “bad kids,” DO. DO give YOUR time. It may take you a little longer to break their shell but when you do it will be worth it. These students need a constant and they need to know that “everyday is a new day”and your going to be there for them no matter what.
SOME doctors, professors, and quick fix behavior analyst will tell you exactly how to control behavior in your classroom and have classroom management. If they are telling you exactly how to do something, like classroom management with three simple steps, they are idiots. The good behavior analyst will tell you there is no quick fix. Habits are hard to create and even harder to break. If you ever hear a BEHAVIOR professional saying quick and easy, stop listening and don’t waste your time. I am not saying I know more than doctors, professors or behavior analyst, but I would bet they can not come into my class and be as successful as me using any three simple steps method. Why? Because I know my students, I respect them and they respect me. If there is anyone willing to try please contact me. I will get out the camera, film what you are doing and we will be rich. Oh man, that would be terrible if that program exists because then there would be no time for my School Perfect Project or my job for that matter.
How do you know you are talking to someone that has a clue about dealing with BEHAVIOR problems in the classroom? You will know because they are talking about building a respectful and a positive relationship with the children or students you are working with. This is why it would be so hard to start from scratch. It takes time to build those relationships. I have literally seen and talked to people claiming to be professionals in student behavior that believe all you have to do is identify the behavior, determine the antecedent, and replace the behavior with a positive alternative. Seriously, this stuff sounds great and identifying the BEHAVIOR is crucial, but there is much more to it than clicking your clicker a few times when a student is off task. This is really the advice I got from a professor when discussing pursuing my PHd and researching my New Day Program. He honestly said all you need to do to fix behavior in class is use some data collection tools such as: duration, frequency, rate, intervals, latency, and ABC charts for classroom behavior. He showed me his Ph.D. program and all the charts and graphs, and they looked great and I can only imagine the time he had to put into it, but it is not real. I am after real advice and you should be too. I guess he thought I was an idiot when I was talking about a program that builds relationships between teacher and students. I don’t know what he thought but I do know I am thankful for him for one, saving me money, and two helping me realize I can do the things I want to do right in my BEHAVIOR classroom in small town USA.
What I have seen is that most behavior teachers will give up before they realize how important student relationships can be in changing behavior. This is why I was so upset with this professor shooting down my idea of a program that builds on relationships instead of quantitative data. Behavior teachers or all teachers for that matter Don’t GIVE up, the kids need YOU. I am not trying to say in the paragraph above that you can not get good tips from behaviorist, professors or anyone observing your class. I believe in observations and evaluations and many times they notice things you just overlook. I am just saying that a sticker chart and data collection is not going to fix all your problems, and if they are telling you that then they need to get back into the classroom to remember what fixes student behaviors. This is also true in the general education classroom. Teachers need to be sure the advice they get is researched based, and make sure you keep up with anything new you are trying, then reflect on what YOU have learned. What works for one class may not work for the next. The only way for YOU to know is keep up with it yourself. Be honest with your administration about what you have found that works for you and your class. They will appreciate REALness and RESULTS or should at least.
I find it funny when I watch or listen to someone talking about how to handle disruptive behavior in the classroom. Some say love the kids and some say scare the kids into working. I am definitely more on the loving side. Scaring the kids may work for a day or two or maybe a teacher’s entire career, but think about the education side of this. Are you able to learn as well when you are scared to death. NO, you are concerned about not getting in trouble or yelled at, not doing your best work and finding ways to connect topics. I am pretty sure there is a great man in the education world by the name of Abraham Maslow that studied this in depth in his hierarchy of needs.
As you can see from the picture above scaring kids is not the way to go. We all need SAFETY. If you decide to take Maslows advice instead of the three steps to classroom management you will be a better teacher I promise. If a kid is scared they will not get to that higher order thinking or self-actualization as Maslow stated. Self-actualization is what all parents and teachers should be shooting for in each and every kid.
In closing, build relationships with your students. Find what MOTIVATES them and interest them. Have clear and precise expectations and procedures from day one. Stay consistent. Try to focus on positive consequences but be real, negative consequences happen in life. Example, staying up to late writing a blog and being tired the next day at work. A behavior classroom or any classroom for that matter, should look like you want it to look. Make it a safe and supportive environment. Some of your students may have never had a safe place to learn. This is especially important in a behavior classroom. Learn more about your students everyday and ADAPT to your classrooms hierarchy of Needs. Don’t GIVE up, TEACH.