4 Strategies to Create an Effective Classroom Behavior Management Plan
As a teacher, creating a positive learning environment should always be a top priority. A comprehensive Behavior Management Plan is the foundation in creating a secure thriving academic atmosphere. All children, especially ones impacted by Autism, crave the structure and consistency that a premier behavior management plan can provide. Here are some strategies you can use to create this outstanding plan:
#1: Don’t Forget the Rules
Class Rules are a wonderful starting point for any quality behavior management plan. As a teacher, it is natural for you to sit down and create a list of “rules” that you intend for your students to abide by. However, in most cases, these “rules” are put on a pretty poster board, reviewed the first day of school, and then the poster collects dust for the next 179 days. You should continue to utilize this tool since it is the basis for your entire management plan. Go over the rules and review them whenever you feel necessary, especially those first few days of school. However, also after each long weekend or vacation, or simply on a Tuesday when everyone seems to forget what expected classroom behavior is. It is vital that you reinforce these rules with praise throughout the course of the entire year.
#2: Concise and Encouraging Class Rules
Now you ask yourself, how many rules should I have? What should they be? In my opinion, the sweet spot is anywhere from 4-6 classroom rules. You don’t want to overwhelm the students with a long list of demands. However, you want enough opportunity to cover all your bases on what you expect of them. Once you have picked how many rules you will have, then it is time to phrase them.
It is crucial that you attempt to word them as simply, clearly, and concisely as possible. This is especially important for any of your students with Autism. This means, trying to avoid any innovative idioms such as, “Turn your listening ears on.” This can breed confusion among your students, in turn leading to rules not being followed. This idea also goes for any verbal instruction you provide to the students each day. Additionally, make sure all of your succinct rules are posed in a positive manner. For example, rather than, “Don’t talk out,” compose the rule as “Please, raise your hand before speaking.” This is a great way to breed a positive environment.
#3: Be Open to Changing Your Tactics
After stressing the importance of structure and consistency, I will now say, if something is not working, or connections are not being made, then don’t be afraid to come at your management plan from a different angle. Rather than forcing something to work, adjust your plan as your see fit. This can all depend on the mixture of students and the personalities your classroom is composed of. At the end of the day, your overall goal is to provide a warm, positive environment and that is what needs to remain consistent.
Also, don’t be afraid to restate the class rules or any verbal instructions to ensure everyone understands them. Additionally, this idea can be applied to any surprises in your daily schedule, such as school-wide assemblies or performances. Try to make your students aware of any changes and be clear on how this will impact their day. Once again, this is helpful for students with Autism because it allows them the opportunity to understand why the schedule is changing and what to expect instead.
#4: Stay Positive
A positive environment can be achieved by encouraging your students and by reinforcing appropriate behavior. A lot of times it is easy to focus on negative behavior and reprimand it. For example, if you see a student who isn’t following instructions, rather than demanding their attention, or punishing them for not focusing; a lot of times praising another student for following instructions reminds that student to focus their attention on you and/or the lesson. You want your students to feel comfortable in your classroom and empowered by learning. I assure you, this mentality will nurture enormous comprehension and success among your students.