Every school year brings a new set of challenges—sometimes, those challenges come in the form of behaviors. Whether it's hitting, biting, or bullying, trying to curb wayward behavior before it becomes a consistent problem is key to effectively managing your classroom. To minimize the time spent in parent conferences, here are five strategies for cutting down on challenging behaviors:
1. Value Social and Emotional Learning
Understanding and promoting social and emotional learning in the classroom is key. You never know what is going on behind the scenes in a child's life—building positive relationships, listening attentively to what is being said, and emphasizing social–emotional skills while you teach is the perfect way to model what behavior is expected. Provide literary examples in your classroom library for students to learn everything from how to use manners to how to make friends. Seeing appropriate behavior displayed by you and by the characters they read about will set children on the right track for building and appreciating social skills.
2. Engage in Bully Prevention
Teasing and bullying have always been present in schools, but so have the traumatic events that occur because of them. It's key to pick up on these classroom disturbances and put an end to them before they can continue. Here are a few ways you can recognize and respond to classroom bullies:
- Check to see if your school has a bullying policy; if so, ensure you are taking the proper steps.
- When bullying occurs, be sure to address bystanders as well as the aggressor. Students need to learn that teasing and laughter is just as harmful and how to overcome the fear of being bullied next so that they can prevent it from happening again.
- Keep in mind that most children feel adults should intervene MORE in classroom situations to resolve teasing and bullying issues, not less.
- Promote resilience. Although you can do your best to prevent bullying, there is still a large chance it will happen. One way to be proactive is by instilling resilience in students. Socially Strong, Emotionally Secure is a great resource that offers five strategies to help children build resilience. Once learned, students will have better control over their emotions and understand how to positively interact with each other.
3. Keep an Active Presence in the Classroom
Increased awareness is a huge part of preventing challenging behaviors, though let's face it, trying to keep an eye on seventeen or so squirming preschoolers is not exactly ideal. Here are some ideas to make supervision easier:
- Walk around: constantly circle to let children know (or at least feel like) you see everything that is being done in the classroom. Know where your problem areas are and visit them frequently.
- Interact: make sure your expectations are clear but reiterated in a friendly manner so that positive relationships are built with your students.
- Scan: perfect the art of scanning, or simply making a quick sweep to assess behaviors. You can use this as a perfect opportunity for addressing both challenging and appropriate behaviors.
4. Encourage Movement in Students
Sometimes, children simply need to be silly! Give them time to get wiggles and giggles out by incorporating some type of physical movement in daily activities. Put time limits on activities you know to be strenuous, or split them up with fast breaks where children can move. Being actively engaged is a great way for children to become invested in what is being taught instead of acting out because of boredom.
5. Get Creative
At the end of the day, there are hundreds of creative and colorful ways to keep your classroom under control and behaving appropriately. Don't be afraid to get creative and try new strategies. If something works, great! Share it on Pinterest and with your community of educators. If something doesn't, no worries! Learn and move forward. After all, students can learn from us learning from our mistakes!