Behavior and Classroom Management in Special Education

Techniques to Use to Encourage Positive Behavior

Teenage girl with Down syndrome 13 year old educated in ULIS (Localised Units for Inclusion School).

Behavior is one of the greatest challenges a special education teacher faces. This is especially true when students receiving special education services are in inclusive classrooms.

There are a number of strategies that teachers—both special and general education—can employ to help with these situations. We will begin by looking at ways to provide structure, move on to addressing behavior in general, and look at structured interventions as prescribed by federal law.

Classroom Management

The most effective way to deal with difficult behavior is to prevent it. It really is as simple as that, but that's also sometimes easier to say than to put into practice in real life.

Preventing bad behavior means creating a classroom environment that reinforces positive behavior. At the same time, you want to stimulate attention and imagination and make your expectations clear to the students.

To start, you can create a comprehensive classroom management plan. Beyond establishing rules, this plan will help you institute classroom routines, develop strategies to keep student's organized and implement Positive Behavior Support systems.

Behavior Management Strategies

Before you have to put a Functional Behavior Analysis (FBA) and Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP) in place, there are other strategies you can try. These will help refocus behavior and avoid those higher, and more official, levels of intervention.

First of all, as a teacher, it's important that you understand the potential behavioral and emotional disorders children in your classroom may be dealing with. These may include psychiatric disorders or behavioral disabilities and each student will come to class with their own needs.

Then, we also need to define what inappropriate behavior is. This helps us understand why a student may be acting out the way she has in the past. It also gives us guidance in properly confronting these actions.

With this background, behavior management becomes part of classroom management. Here, you can begin to implement strategies to support a positive learning environment. This may include behavior contracts between yourself, the student, and their parents. It could also involve rewards for positive behavior.

For example, many teachers use interactive tools like the "Token Economy" to recognize good behavior in the classroom. These point systems can be customized to fit the individual needs of your students and classroom.

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is a research-based therapeutic system based on Behaviorism (the science of behavior), which was first defined by B.F. Skinner. It has been proven to be successful in managing and changing problematic behavior. ABA also provides instruction in functional and life skills, as well as academic programming.

Individual Education Plans (IEP)

An Individual Education Plan (IEP) is a way to organize your thoughts in a formal manner regarding a child's behavior. This can be shared with the IEP team, parents, other teachers, and school administration.

The goals outlined in an IEP should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and have a timeframe (SMART). All of this helps keep everyone on track and gives your student a very detailed sense of what is expected of them.

If the IEP is not working, then you might need to resort to the formal FBA or BIP. Yet, teachers often find that with earlier intervention, the right combination of tools, and a positive classroom environment, these measures can be avoided.

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Your Citation
Webster, Jerry. "Behavior and Classroom Management in Special Education." ThoughtCo, Aug. 1, 2021, Webster, Jerry. (2021, August 1). Behavior and Classroom Management in Special Education. Retrieved from Webster, Jerry. "Behavior and Classroom Management in Special Education." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 10, 2023).