Here are some personal tips and advice about classroom management, based on my experience in a self-contained classroom with children who had conduct disorders. I have many things that I did, but I compiled a list of some of the most influential changes I made in my classroom.
* I tried the behavior modification system of “Green, Yellow, Red” with points for each color group. Each child started with 10 and lost points for breaking class or school rules. The child would be in green for points 10, 9, and 8 and moved to yellow for 7, 6, and 5.Red was anything below 5. I used this system for the first year and discovered that taking away points did not work for children with emotional difficulties. I had a one hour “melt down”, which resulted in several bruises on me, over pulling a point. By my second year I totally did away with any type of point system. No colors or points were allowed in my class. I did use smiley faces on a daily behavioral chart. The chart went everywhere with the child (carried by me), and when the child followed a rule they received a smiley face. At the end of the day, they could see how many smiley faces they had in each category (respect, responsible, courteous, calm, finishing work, and walking quietly in the hallway). They did not get anything but bright, green smiling faces on their chart. At first I would reward everything. If they were breathing, without cussing, they got a smiling face somewhere. Pointing out the behavior right then and there was important as well, but not around the other kids. That would cause a tantrum from someone who did not get one. Then I would send the sheet home, and the parent only could see the positive. If something major happened, I would give the parent a call. Nothing negative would go on that sheet. By the end of the school year, I had students trying to put smiling faces on their own paper because they realized they were doing something positive. This system transformed all of my students, but I had to stick with the same plan for months before I could see any progress. I also replied to another student (the one right before you) about some tips as well that might be helpful.
* Earning points or tickets is a good way to start, but I have found taking points or tickets away is not effective.
* Being consistent is another crucial aspect of classroom management. Even if you do not think something is working, keep trying for at least a week. I found that negative behavior will increase before it decreases.
* Use a schedule and stick to it! Scheduling is very important. Post it on the wall, or on a desk, where the student can see it and follow it. This will reduce anxiety.
* Watch for signs of anxiety and step in before the child acts out.
* Do not be afraid to give in sometimes when the child will benefit from the change. For example, I had a child who insisted on not taking notes, and he was in a general education classroom during note taking time. He would crumble his paper and throw it at the teacher. We tried everything from rewards to punishments and nothing worked. Finally, I asked the teacher to give me the notes, and I would write it for him. In my mind, I knew I was giving in, and he needed to know how to take notes, but his behavior was interfering with any possible learning outcomes. After I began taking notes for him, I made a deal and he promised not to throw paper, keep his pencil on his desk, and not make noises with his mouth or objects around his desk. Yes, I was that specific about what I expected. I printed a copy of our agreement and put it on his desk, and the teacher had a copy. Every day he would check whether or not he met his goals, and the teacher would check off which ones he met also. Then the paper was sent home. If he did not meet any goals, he had to copy his own notes that afternoon, but if he met at least one goal then I would copy them.
* Last, but not least, care about the child and understand the root of the behavior. Do not just look at the outside, look at the inside. Tell them you understand and share personal stories with them.