Apr 26 2011
Beyond the Basics…Step-by-Step Classroom Management Procedures for Difficult Students
We all know the basics of classroom management when dealing with general misbehavior in our students:
- Use proximity
- Do not get angry
- Do not raise your voice
- Be firm in your requests for compliant behavior
But, what if your student is belligerent? What if your student can’t comply with your requests? What if your student is difficult? Sometimes we need a more stringent approach to getting a student back on track and onto success in our classrooms. My overall goal for classroom management is that every student own his behavior…that they always take responsibility for their actions.
This is my step-by-step method–with definitions–for a student who is acting out in class, and for the most part…it works very, very well:
- Give the student one warning about his behavior
- If the student doesn’t comply, send the student to your safe seat and have them fill out a Think Sheet about their misbehavior
- If they can’t be okay (they don’t stop the misbehavior) in the safe seat, send them to a buddy room
- If they can’t be okay in a buddy room, the buddy room teacher sends them to the recovery room or to the office
Safe Seat- A safe seat in the secondary building is a desk placed strategically in the room to allow for limited distractions. I place mine near my desk turned toward the wall. A student in the safe seat has no interaction with the class. They fill out the above think sheet, and when they are able to process with me (when they have filled out the sheet properly and are not displaying the behavior that got them there), I let them return to their normal seat. Most students will stop all misbehavior at this junction–most are not willing to go further in the process, but if they are, the next step is the buddy room.
Buddy Room- A buddy room is a safe place for a student to go when they persist in the bad behavior in the safe seat. A buddy room is a prearranged place in another teacher’s room (it is that teacher’s safe seat). This second step allows the student more time to think about his behavior and realize the problem they caused. The student must have the think sheet filled out correctly and be ready to talk about his behavior when I come to process. This step is more severe in that I may not be able to get to them very quickly as I have limited time through the day. My buddy teacher knows that the student may not go on to any other classes or come back to my class until I can get to them, or I send an e-mail asking for the student to return. If a student can’t be okay in my room, they will not be okay in other classes. Remember…you have to process (talk about the behavior) with the student before they go on, and they have to work backward through the steps; the student has to go from the buddy room, back to the safe seat, and finally back to their regular seat. If a student can’t stop the misbehavior in the buddy room, the next step is the recovery room.
Recovery Room/Office- This is the last stop for a student who has shown that they can’t stop their misbehavior in my class or in a buddy room. It’s really unfortunate when a student’s behavior escalates to this level, but it does happen occasionally. In the recovery room, the student must still complete the think sheet and stop the misbehavior. They must stay in recovery until they show that they can be okay…they also have to stay until I can process with them. When the student is able to process, they still work backward through the process and make apologies on the way–from recovery to buddy room, from buddy room to my safe seat, from my safe seat to the regular seat. Whew! That’s a L-O-N-G procedure…and one most NEVER want to repeat=)
There is sooooo much more to the process than this explanation, but I hope this helps another teacher who is looking for concrete directions on how to handle a difficult student. (And, if you are thinking that this can only work if it is implemented building-wide, you’re wrong. My current building does not use this system, and while it would work better if we all used the same procedures, I do use these management procedures with my buddy teacher, and we’ve had great results. Most of the students that would normally go to the office for misbehavior straighten out in a safe seat.)