Managing Difficult Behavior

Managing Difficult Behavior

Any experienced educator will tell you that managing a group of kids is the key to facilitating an effective lesson or rehearsal. This resource will provide you with proven techniques to engage kids of all ages, keep them focused and avoid disciplinary action. Through positive reinforcement and setting clear expectations you will gain the tools to have kids you teach in the palm of your hands.  

Try an "Attention Getter"

  • Anticipation Clap- Participants try to clap at the same time as the teacher.
  • Grab an Apple/piece of gum- This is imaginative play, but becomes an effective quieting tool when participants “have their mouths full." Using the imagination the facilitator and participants grab for an "apple" and take a huge bite. The facilitator can then give instructions while the participants are "chewing."
  • Change the room and use it as bait- Change something about the room and when participant’s interests are peaked, set the expectation that you will explain when everyone is quiet and attentive or you get through whatever you may need.
  • Call and response- “If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands.” Have fun creating your own call and response.

Teaching Techniques and Strategies

“These simple techniques that you can incorporate to your sessions will subtly change the foundation of your classroom management.”

Having your tool box full, and setting clear expectations are integral to your teaching practice when considering behavioral management.

  • Structure is key. Have a clear beginning, middle and end to your class or lesson.
  • Establish "ritualistic" openings and closings to your class or lesson.
  • Have a backup plan and a backup plan for the backup plan when a lesson is not going well or participants begin ‘hitting a wall’ in absorbing content.
  • Break down instructions- If a process or task has 5 steps, try not to give all five steps at once. Clearly state steps 1 and 2, then offer additional steps once those are complete.
  • Offer "Brain Breaks" even for a short moment- stimulating the mind in a different way can increase productivity. Try playing a short game or have everyone draw for 5 minutes. Be creative in what you use as a brain break. It may seem like a distraction but the brain needs a break too. Keep it to strictly 5 minute no matter what you do.

Check In

Checking in with your participants is important to understanding their cognitive and emotional state.

  • Greeting participants at the door
  • Rose and Thorn of the Day
  • Ask for a one word description of their feelings
  • Charade their feeling for that day

Top Ten Ways to Sabotage Classroom Management

  1. Smile or play into students goofing off.
  2. Handle problems publicly- this risks embarrassing the participant.
  3. Only give verbal instructions.
  4. Address the class before everyone is quiet.
  5. Talk when students are supposed to be reading or on task.
  6. Phrase everything as a "Don’t."
  7. Allow behavior interventions to drag on and on.
  8. Stay at the front of the room.
  9. Only focus on the problems- instead, give attention to behaviors you want to see.
  10. Take things personally.

Final Thoughts

“Humans, young and old, are innately reasonable.”

Let's be realistic. Let the punishment fit the crime and the reward fit the achievement. Humans, young and old, are innately reasonable. For no matter the outcome, reason and understanding will lessen any sort of long-term negative effects. Support your behavioral modifications with care, love, a dose of reality and strict guidelines to feed the inner need for structure.

Additional Resources