Positive Behavior Intervention Systems (PBIS) with all our expectations, common language, rewards and consequences.
David Weitzman – Coach
Diane Strever – Administrator
Bree Prezioso – Psychologist
Rachel Wolfe – grade 4 and 5 Teacher Rep
Nora Infante – K and 1 Teacher Rep
Mary Makoski – grade 2 and 3 Teacher Rep
April Lang – Behaviorist
Lisa Demshak – Parent Rep
JoAnne Weiss – Non-Certified Rep
How managing how kids behave can help all kids learn
Teaching at elementary level is a brilliantly fun challenge. This is the age when many children like to start to test the boundaries and challenge their adults in both a school and home environment – a bit of back chat or simply not doing as they are asked. Along with this though comes a great sense of adventure and a want to explore and find out as much as they can about the world around them and how it all works. For teachers kids at this age are fantastic to teach but the classroom needs to be controlled well to ensure that everyone is behaving in a suitable manner for the schooling environment. By implementing the PBIS Frenchtown Elementary actively manage strong, responsible behavior patterns looking to encourage and reward them in a positive way – kids that do as is expected will be rewarded those that don’t will be encouraged to change how they act. How do we cope when children’s behavior falls short of the mark? Well in a number of ways we will address these issues – many are simply a kid learning to challenge or test their independence.
More serious issues
For a few of the kids this behavior could be because something more serious is going on with them – Government statistics show there is a growing number of younger children who are having problems with a variety of medical conditions. The main disorders to affect kids at this age are that of ADHD followed by mood disorders or major depressive disorders. Whilst there are only a small percentage of kids that are affected, any parent facing any of these issues would want to know what is going on with their kid and how they can best help their child if there is a more serious mental health issue. At this age especially it can be difficult for a parent to know if your kid’s disruptive behavior is due to them not understanding the rules, because they are bored or as a way to gain attention from their classmates or teacher. Or could it be that they have another underlying health issue such as ADHD, OCD or another anxiety disorder. Our advice to any parent who is worried about how their kid is acting either here at school or at home is, of course, to liaise closely with us and between us a decision can be made as to whether we need to involve a medical professional for further diagnosis or if it is simply a poor behavior that between us we can sort out.
Managing behavior issues
Whilst these more serious behavior issues must be dealt with in a sensitive and inclusive environment for most parents their kids’ misbehavior is just a part of them growing up and acting out. As a school we are committed to ensuring that the classrooms are as kid-friendly as possible. By ensuring that children who perhaps don’t get on so well or who encourage each other to behave poorly are seated separately, by making sure that any equipment they will need is within easy reach, by closing the classroom door to minimize outside noise and disruption we can create the right environment for the children to learn in. To gain cooperation at this level the teacher will develop a way of working with the kids where they all know what the expectations are. Meeting those expectations and rewarding them not only builds a strong sense of self for the kids but also reinforces behavior patterns meaning they will continue to behave well. Getting groups of children to work together in class is a great way to disperse behavior problems as kids at this age particularly enjoy working together.
At this age including some physical movement through the day is also key. Boys especially need to move about to aid their learning ability and many studies have shown the link between physical activities and brain stimulation.
Benefits to all of building an inclusive schooling environment
So whether a kid has more serious condition or is simply acting out there is a strong argument for all being educated together not only for the good of that one child but also for the development of the whole class. For a kid who is showing a behavior issue, or an anxiety or mental health disorder, becoming part of a class may bring lots of benefits. These include helping them to achieve better grades, have a wider group of friendships and increase their access to a bigger range of social situations as well as increasing school and parent involvement. This will lead to them, hopefully, keeping a more open mind and being able to connect to a wider social setting in the future. For other kids in the class or school it can increase their understanding of the diversity of society as a whole – that people come from all sorts of social, cultural backgrounds and with different abilities – along with teaching them to appreciate and accept those that are different to themselves. It may offer them the chance to help others which will also help their own learning experiences and gives them the opportunity to develop further friendships.
In all the many studies that have been carried out there appears to be little argument against creating an inviting, inclusive school environment that is open to all kids. Obviously each and every case of behavior issues should be dealt on an individual basis to discover what the reasons could be and what the most appropriate course of action is. By working together parents and teachers at Freetown Elementary will create a program that is individual and appropriate for every child.
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