Baseline practices

Over on Snail-Snail, snail_snail has a couple of posts that illustrate fundamentals for behavior management. The recommendations, in the form of a list one should ask oneself, provide the basic background that should be in place before one attempts to employ more formal behavior modification procedures.

Under the titles “Onaway Elementary/Day N,” snail_snail raises questions such as “Are the teacher’s directions usually clear?” and “Is the teacher consistent? Are the rules in force for all students? every day?” Most of the items on the list of questions should serve as reminders about basic teaching practices.

But, they are more than that, too. I have too often been asked whether a given behavior mod technique is worth using. Usually, the answer is going to be, “Yes.” However, I should routinely note that the positive answer is conditioned on whether an appropriate classroom situation exists. For just about any technique to be worthwhile, it needs to be implemented in a calm, pleasant, orderly, learning-focused classroom. Even very powerful techniques such as differential reinforcement of other behavior will be less likely to be helpful in a chaotic environment than in a coherently structured classroom.

Equally importantly, creating those coherent, orderly, pleasant places will often obviate the need for employing formal behavior modification procedures. This is a fundamental point in my class on classroom management: Get it right from the start and you’ll have many fewer calls for serious b. mod. interventions.

The questions snail_snail poses here and here point toward creating and maintaining classrooms where, if they are needed, evidence-based behavior management techniques would be likely to be effective.

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