What is Evidenced Based Classroom Management?
I have mentioned in other blog posts, I looove classroom management. and I strongly believe that it is important to use research-based classroom management techniques. These classroom management techniques, also known as evidence based classroom management strategies, have been tried and tested in multiple classrooms, with many different types of students, and by many different types of teachers, so I know that the technique I am using is more likely to be effective and successful.
The First Steps in Classroom Management Techniques
In earlier blog posts I have discussed a positive approach to classroom management based on behavioural research methods, and the groundwork that we need to lay for all students. Let’s do a quick review of those first.
Essentially the cornerstone of any evidence based teaching methods for a classroom behaviour framework includes these core strategies:
- Establish clear and consistent expectations – preferably with the students.
- Use positive reinforcement to teach and encourage the expected behaviours.
- Use non-verbal cues to redirect disruptive students.
- Use proximity to dial down students who are being disruptive.
- Use visual aids such as anchor charts to remind students of the expectations.
- Review Expectations regularly at first, and then as necessary.
- Teach social skills, and use restorative practices to address conflicts.
- Make certain there are movement breaks during instruction.
- Differentiate the work to be certain students are able to do the work you have asked them to do.
Phew! 😓That’s a lot. And still … you can’t get through to this student. So what is next?
When to Implement Classroom Management Techniques
I remember one boy who struggled to read. The first time I read with him he came upon a word that he couldn’t read, and in his pain and frustration he literally kicked a chair across the room.
I had a choice, at that moment, about whether to react or respond, and so I took a deep breath and responded. Backing off of that reading passage, which technically was at his level, we worked on something that was easier for him. I needed time to create a plan, and he needed to rebuild himself.
He was all personality, and I really liked him. Behaviorally he was definitely all systems go, but underneath it, he was a very bright boy who was reading at least two years below grade level. I knew that his pain and confusion ran deep. Intuitively he knew he should be able to read, but somehow he could not. I would be frustrated too.
Regardless of my compassion for him, or maybe because of it, I knew that for us to achieve any success together he needed to be on some kind of behaviour modification plan. I also knew that he was not listening to his teacher.
Because I was in Learning Support at the time it was my job to create the plan, and see if I could work with the teacher to get it implemented.
Seeking the Evidence-Based Teaching Methods You Need
Okay, now you may be feeling overwhelmed, and at your wit’s end. You have learned there is no easy answer or shortcut. What now?
You need to call in the reinforcements. Instead of kicking a student out of the class to avoid having to work with them, it is now time to call in the assistance and support of others to create a plan that will, hopefully, keep that student in your class.
Hopefully, you find yourself in a supportive environment, and others with more or different training and experience will share their wisdom.
Evidence-Based Management Examples
Some of the evidence-based management examples your support team suggest may look like the following. There are many, many, many different ways to address disruptive behaviour, and each classroom and student are unique. I can’t possibly list all of the options for you. But here are some effective evidence-based examples that I have implemented and been successful with.
- Behaviour contract – clearly outlines the expectations and consequences specific to that one student.
- Token Reward System – usually this will include some kind of paper upon which you can track behaviour, and when the student gets enough points or has reached the goal they get a reward.
- Behaviour Chart or Point System – to track and reward progress. As mentioned – this would go with the Token Reward System.
- Designated Work Space or “cool down area” – this was a part of my classroom, and I made absolutely certain that it was not perceived as a “time out” area for punishment. It always became so popular that by the end of the year, I had multiple quiet zones. This is great as it takes the stigma away from the kids who need it.
- Offer Choices – In earlier posts, I discuss at length the importance of student choice. However, for disruptive students, this is even more important, and it needs to be very intentional. Always give them two options, both of which you can live with.
- Model self-regulation – I am hoping that if you have reached this point you are teaching and implementing self-regulation instructions and opportunities for all students. With disruptive students, it can be important to say things like, “Just give me a moment, please. I need to take a breath to calm down.”
- Timers and Countdowns– I used the app on my phone. Initially, there was a lovely little chime that was recommended and completely ineffective. One day the students recommended Chewbacca, and there was a ringtone for that. Chewbacca it was. Talk about effective!! 💚
- Use restorative practices – ensure your classroom is a place of safety and refuge for all students.
- Collaborate with parents – involve parents in behaviour management plans.
- Additional academic support and differentiation – differentiation has been mentioned in the essential list necessary for the whole class. However, it is so important that it bears repeating.
- A team meeting – or whatever it may be called in your school. The composition of the team will vary, but you are hoping it will include you, any classroom support you have, an admin and or someone from Learning Support Services, and maybe a parent, but probably not initially. The purpose will be to get everyone on the same page, and brainstorm together.
- Seek Support – school counsellor, behaviour specialist, Learning Support, Educational Psychologist, Administrator, Speech Language Pathologist, Occupational Therapist. Ask everyone you can. If your school has very few people from whom you can draw, just keep doing your best.
- Reflection – teaching is rewarding, but it can also be very hard. Track what you are doing so you know if something is working. Reflect on what is or is not working so that you can tweak it.
A couple of last words on Classroom Management Techniques
If Evidence Based Teaching Methods Aren’t Working for the Student
I mentioned a student I worked with earlier in the post. I primarily used a behaviour contract that he took home to his parents. They gave him a huge reward (not my decision but theirs) for following the plan. He listened to me, managed his behaviour, and we made some progress in his reading.
However, his classroom teacher did not join me in this approach, and he continued to be disruptive in class. At the end of our year together there was no behaviour plan, and he continued being disruptive.
I was very sad, but I learned a lot from this.
Hugely important to me was the knowledge that he made appropriate choices for me, but not in the classroom. This tells me that, when implemented, this strategy is very effective.
First, I know I can only do, what I can do.
Next, I know I can only control what I can control.
Last, I know I can only change what I can change.
My heart remained open to working collegially, of course, but I did not own the outcome anymore. I prayed, communicated, tried and trusted. Then I let go, which is not always easy.
What You Can Do
I encourage you to take every step that you reasonably can (please notice I did not say possibly can) to support your students.
Because you are responsible for setting up the essentials of classroom management.
And you are responsible for reaching out for help.
And yet you are also responsible for recognizing when you can’t do anymore, and you must take care of yourself.
Finally, if you are implementing the first 13 strategies, or at least trying to every day, then you are already doing a ton. You are changing lives.
This is a lot to remember. Download my free checklist to help you keep track of where you are on track with your classroom management techniques, and to set some goals for the future.
Blessings to you!! You can find me at the following: