Saturday, September 29, 2012

I-Messages, Behavior Plans, Progress Monitoring....Oh My!!!

For some teachers, it is at this point in the school year when you've come to the conclusion that your whole class behavior plan may not be working for a few students. It is time to develop an individual behavior plan in effort to provide direct support to any student who may be having a difficult time with anger management and/or self control. By intervening with an individual behavior plan, teachers get more information about a student and may or may not decide that a student needs additional, more comprehensive behavorial support. This data collecting process is two-fold. Primarily, it provides students with classroom support to help them reach behavorial goals made by both them and the teacher. It is designed to address specific barriers during classroom instruction. By developing a behavior plan, a teacher is taking additional steps to help every student find success in their classroom. In addition, a behavior plan shows that a variety of strategies have been implemented to support a student in a variety of settings. If a student fails to make progress with an in-class behavorial plan, a teacher has doumentation that additional behavorial supports are necessary. Documentation is critical; it is proof for both parents and adminstrators that the classroom environment has been modified to help support a child who is displaying difficulty.

The nuts and bolts of a behavior plan.
A behavior plan must be measurable. It must have measurable/observable goals that can show  a student's progress or lack their of. In addition, a behavior plan must have the input of both the parent and the student. Students should be able to identify areas of need and/or personal behavior goals. They should also have some say about the incentive options they can earn. It is important to have an end date/ review date. In my school, our contracts initially go for a month with progressive goals each week. Below is an outline you might want to consider when developing a behavior plan:

  • Three most important behavior concerns in class (i.e antagonizing behavior, off-task behavior, leaving the room without permission). 
  • A primary goal and secondary goal based on the three behaviors listed above (The student will refrain from antagonizing their peers durig classroom instuction, the student will not leave their seat without permission)
  • Measurable goals that can be tracked and documented (The student will receive no more than 6 warnings in a day.) After establishing your base line, create positive and negative consequences that go above and below the base-line goal for example: 0 warnings= 3 stars, 3 warnings=2 stars, 6 warnings= 1 star, 9 warning=phone call home 12 warnings= lunch detention and think sheet) After establishing a daily goal, translate that into a weekly goal: Week 1 and 2: 5 stars, Week 3 and 4: 10 stars, Week 5 and 6: 15 stars.) 

  • After establishing the weekly goals, identify weekly incentives based on the stars earned i.e 15 stars- 30 minute computer pass, 10 stars: prize from the proze box, 5 stars: 15 minute time out during a period of students choice. Remember, it is important that the student values the incentive and should be created with their input. If the student is not interested in the reward, they will not care about the behavior contract.

  • MAKE SURE YOU KEEP IT SIMPLE. It is very important that your incetives are of high-interest but are not a BURDEN to you. You are the pilot of this process so if it is diffilcult to maintain, the process then becomes vulnerable and its success is compromised. Keep the warning process simple and easy to document. Choose a form that easy to manage and track on. Here are few ideas. 
  • Progress monitoring is very important. It is very important that you keep your goals measurable so that you can track progress. This makes yor process systematic, consistent and easy to communicate. 

  • Highlight all of the support that a student will receive while on behavior contract (teacher/ parent/ support staff). 
  • Make sure the parent signs the behavior contract and understands their role. The parent should understand that there should be a follow-up consequence at home if a phone call is made or if any contact is made. It is important that parents reinforce the contract. 


How do you teach your students to communicate. A lot of times I hear adults directing students to,  "use their words." But unfortunately, students do not always know what words we are referring to. Students need to have social skills and the ability to communicate effectively if they are going to be strong problem solvers. Students have to be able to clearly express their feelings, wants and needs in order to properly clear up classroom/ social conflicts. By using I-Messages, teachers lay they foundations for students to learning how to communicate with each other.
I messages improve communication because it helps the student to express their wants, needs, and feelings in a respectful manner. Use the I message and response cards to help facilitate student conversation. "

I suggest that I-Messages be added to your Peace Area in the classroom. I use I messages when I am when students are referred to my office. I not only have the students use them with each other to resolve conflict, I also use them to communicate how I feel about the situation after our discussion. I have been impressed with the conversations students are having each other and with me. I find this to be a critical component of any conflict resolution process. 

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