When working with exceptional children the developmental-behavioral approach is successful in helping children achieve the desired results. The first developmental-behavioral concept to consider is negative reinforcement. In using negative reinforcement, a negative consequence is avoided by choosing a different behavior. For example, if a child is not allowed computer time when he or she hits another student, the only way for the child to earn computer time is to stop hitting students. The child learns that hitting has a negative consequence or a consequence they want to avoid.
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Intrinsic reinforcement is reinforcement that comes from within the children themselves. Children learn that certain behaviors are rewarded. An example is when a student helps clean up the room after playtime without being reminded to do so. When the student cleans up, the student is rewarded by the teacher complimenting the student on his or her helpful behavior and thanking him or her for being helpful. Receiving compliments and thanks feel good so the student remembers what behavior earns these rewards and performs those behaviors on their own in the future.
Positive reinforcement is something good that happens after a certain behavior. If a student receives a sticker for every time he or she lines up quietly for recess, the student will continue to line up quietly for recess so he or she may receive a sticker. Generally, after a certain number of stickers, a reward is given to the student.
Natural consequences are the result of the student’s own actions. For example, if a student goes outside in the winter without wearing a coat, the child will get cold (Allen & Boelter, 2011). The next time a parent or a teacher tells the student it is cold out, the student will know they need to put on a coat. A logical consequence is a result of a child’s actions but the teacher imposes the consequences. An example of a logical consequence is when students are told in music class to leave the instruments alone until the teacher is done giving them instructions. If a child touches or plays with the instruments while the teacher is giving instructions, a logical consequence is to take the instrument away from the child for the next activity. This will motivate the child to listen quietly to instructions next time so he or she may play the instrument with the rest of the class.
Withdrawing or withholding reinforcement is ignoring a child through time out. The teacher and other children do not interact with the child during time out. A child earns time out when he or she behaves badly. Often, the child is missing a fun activity. Withholding interaction from the child is punishment enough to encourage the child to behave properly. Children need to be noticed.
Incompatible behaviors are a technique where two behaviors collide. One behavior would normally receive a punishment and the opposite behavior would earn a reward. For example, when a student does not share something when asked to share, ignore the bad behavior. When the student shares when asked or shares on their own, reward the sharing behavior with a compliment or a special treat.
Catch the child being good is when it is not announced that the teacher is looking for a specific behavior. For example, during art class, if a student shares art supplies or is particularly well behaved, the student receives a reward such as a special note from the teacher explaining what they did that was good or a treat from the candy jar with an explanation of what they did that the teacher liked.
Using reminders, redirections, and reprimands involves using a student’s name, making eye contact with the student, asking the student to stop a particular behavior, and asking the student to engage in a different behavior (Ray). An example would be if a student were banging her pencil. Call the student’s name, look her in the eye, ask her to stop banging her pencil and ask her to put the pencil down.
Sit and watch involves observing a child doing a specific activity for a specific amount of time (White and Bailey, 1990). Every time an inappropriate behavior occurs, it is noted. The student does not know he or she is being observed. When inappropriate behavior occurs during the observation period, the student is asked to sit and watch for a short period of time (White and Bailey, 1990). The goal is to teach the children to be on their best behavior all of the time.
Time out includes elements of sit and watch and withholding reinforcement. A special time out chair is created. The child is told he or she will sit in the time out chair when he or she misbehaves. It is best to give the child examples of what activities will earn him a time out because then the student better understands the purpose of time out. When the child performs an activity he or she should not be doing such as talking when the teacher is talking, the student is told to go to time out, why, and for how long.
These are several classroom management techniques that when utilized properly by the teacher should result in a well-managed classroom containing well-behaved students.
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