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Classroom Management with At-Risk Students

The root of the word, “discipline” is “disciple,” meaning, “to teach.” When faced with problem behaviors in the classroom, management strategies should be used rather than punishment.

Far too often, our at-risk students receive the harshest punishments: the most suspensions, the most expulsions. These students are frequently yelled at by teachers and parents. This approach typically aggravates the problem behavior, and the students and educators sprial into a pattern of problems and punishments. As the punishment increases, the bevaviors increase.

Today, I am talking about classroom management strategies that are effective for ALL students.

From the beginning, my classroom management approach has been holistic and eclectic, encompassing aspects of humanistic, environmental, and behaviorist theories. In each of my new positions, I set my plan in the following way:

1.       Environmental: The first thing I consider is the environment.
        Is my room arranged to allow all members full access?
        Can I easily reach all students?
        Can I float through the room with ease?
        Are there any hidden areas?
        Under the theory of environment, I also consider the emotional environment.
        Do students feel welcome?
        Do they feel like they are valued, important, and contributing members of our community?

2.       Humanistic: My goal every year is to develop students who are confident socially as well as academically, who are comfortable taking cognitive risks, and who are intrinsically motivated to learn.
      Before students are asked to cognitively push themselves beyond their current schemas, it is critical to build significant, meaningful relationships. I begin the year with an emphasis on collaborative learning and community building, so that I can learn about the students individually as well as academically.
                                                 My students feel like Olympic champions!

Before I push them, they know what it feels like to succeed!

       100% Rule: In the beginning of the year, I assign tasks that students can complete successfully, so that they will be encouraged to try again. I call this my “100% rule”: I give
       assignments that ALL students can complete with 100% accuracy, even if I have to differentiate.
       90% Rule: Next, I implement my “90% rule,” so that students learn comfort in making mistakes.
       80% Rule: This is followed by 80%, so that students learn to seek help and ask questions. It is extremely important, though, that these grades are not used as punishment. When learning something for the first time, I never include those grades. The 90% and 80% assignments are used solely for instructional opportunities.
       Frustrational Level: Sometimes, however, it is necessary to provide assignments that are within the students’ frustrational levels. During these times, I acknowledge the student’s
       frustration and provide motivation to persevere.

3.       Behaviorist: The environmental and humanistic approaches encompass the largest portion of my classroom management strategies, but when students don’t respond to these, I look to behaviorist theories. I use the “ABC” approach first to identify any antecedents and functions of the problem behavior. Once antecedents are eliminated or managed, I help students create replacement behaviors. I use behavior reflection forms to help students recognize their choices.


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15 Practical Tips for Dealing with "Difficult" Students Praise often. All the time. With over-the top, ridiculous compliments. Your student completed half an assignment after several 0's? Compliment them!

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Breaking the Child Teachers and parents constantly lament over some child's willfulness. Certainly teachers need to be in charge of the classroom, but I wonder: How far would you go to gain control of a child?