We have very likely heard the quote concerning an ounce of prevention. However, when it comes to effectively managing the classroom, many of us forget and attempt in a futile gesture to instead focus on cures. We attempt to stamp out the behaviors instead of finding preventative solutions. According to Bill Gates "treatment without prevention is simply unsustainable." Luckily, we know what works to prevent a majority of behavioral mishaps. Recently, the USOE published the http://www.schools.utah.gov/sars/Behavior/ManualPrint.aspx to help educators understand and implement best practices concerning student behavioral management. On the topic of prevention, they state that "All students benefit academically and socially when their classroom and school environments are positive, preventive, and responsive" (LRBI, 27). So, it is not just a way to relieve teacher stress (though it might do that too). Taking positive actions to control behavior is an essential component of an optimized learning environment. The first pillar in prevention is establishing rules. It would be difficult to overstate the importance that establishing and maintaining rules has in the classroom. Unfortunately, not all rules fall in the effective category. In fact, classroom rules sometimes cause problems they are intended to prevent. In order to ensure that classroom rules bring about the desired consequence of preventing behavioral problems, a few recommendations should be satisfied (LRBI, 28).
- Prioritize expectations by limiting the number to three to five classroom-wide rules.
- State expected behaviors positively.
- Use developmentally appropriate language in the wording (vocabulary appropriate to student age, functional level, and skill level).
- State explicitly what the behavior looks and sounds like.
- Make rules observable and measurable (able to be counted or quantified for monitoring).
- Post the rules publicly for all to see.
After rules are written, it becomes necessary to set them in motion and keep them in motion throughout the remainder of the school year. For further help with how to do this, please refer to the http://www.schools.utah.gov/sars/Behavior/ManualPrint.aspx. Additionally, our district offers a course called Effective Teacher Training: How To Get Your Students to Do What You Want them To Do. Taking the course will help to do just as the name suggests. More information and registration for the course is found in JPLS.