Effective behaviour management strategies are necessary and beneficial for all students as they encourage positive interactions and successful learning environments. I believe effective behaviour management approaches emphasise preparation and supportive environments, thus supporting the needs of all students, including those with identified additional needs.
One crucial form of teacher preparation involves designing appropriate lessons, which can be achieved through adoption of the Quality Teaching Framework (NSW DET, 2003). Beneficial for all students, but especially those with additional needs, are tasks that promote prolonged academic engagement (Conway, 2008, p. 211). This can be achieved through careful consideration of students’ ability levels and in-built task support. Such promotion of academic success has the additional benefit of bolstering students’ self-esteem, which functions to reduce the occurrence of some problem behaviours (Lewis & Sugai, 1999, p. 3). Failure to do so results in increased levels of stress placed upon teachers as they attempt to divide their attention between inappropriate behaviours and students requiring assistance (Forlin, 2001, p. 239).
School-wide and classroom expectations of behaviour should be unambiguously taught to all students. Beyond this, teachers should work proactively to adapt curricula to include lessons which explicitly teach coping and social skills (see Williams & Reisburg, 2003, cited in Conway, 2008, p. 210; Lewis & Sugai, 1999; Little, 2008a). This is necessary as students require opportunities to learn school-specific social skills with feedback on when and how these skills should be employed. Once explicitly taught, teachers need to continue to model positive behaviours.
Whilst preventative strategies are in place to support all students, for some students, additional comprehensive systems of support are necessary. Support systems should be proactive and aimed at early intervention to arrest inappropriate behaviour before it escalates or becomes naturalised. Teachers need to engage in meaningful dialogue with their colleagues to reach a shared understanding of what constitutes problem behaviour (Little, 2008a) so that support systems are adopted consistently throughout the whole school. Having such systems in place reduces the need for teachers to “rely on reactive and crisis management interventions to solve chronic problem behaviour” (Little, 2008b).
Both classroom and school-wide systems for responding to inappropriate behaviour need to emphasize the use of functional assessment (Lewis & Sugai, 1999, p. 3). That is, teachers need to analyse behaviour in terms of what students are attempting to achieve by behaving inappropriately (Conway, 2008, p. 200). Once the purpose of behaviour is known, then individualised behavioural support plans can be designed to assist students in replacing challenging behaviours with appropriate behaviours that lead to productive and socially cooperative learning.
Therefore, behavioural support systems are most effective when curricula are designed to empower students with skills necessary to avoid inappropriate behaviour and when support systems are aimed at early intervention which examines the purpose of students’ behaviour.
ReferencesConway, R. (2008). Encouraging positive interactions. In P. Foreman (Ed.), Inclusion in action (pp. 198-244). South Melbourne: Thomson.
Forlin, C. (2001). Inclusion: Identifying potential stressors for regular class teachers. Educational Research, 41, 235-245.
Lewis, T.J., & Sugai, G. (1999). Effective behaviour support: A systems approach to proactive and schoolwide management. Focus on Exceptional Children, 31(6), 1-24.
Little, C. (2008a, March 31). Managing challenging behaviour: Basic principles (Notes of Lecture).
Little, C. (2008b, April 7). Managing challenging behaviour: Proactive and reactive models (Notes of Lecture).
NSW DET. (2003). Quality teaching in NSW public schools: Discussion paper. Sydney: Author.