Most chronic misbehavior serves a function, or purpose for the student. Interventions are most effective when they address the underlying reasons for the behavior. By the time students are in middle/ high school, behaviors may have become habitual and will take time to modify. Remember, to shape behavior, high rates of positive feedback and reinforcement to the target student will increase the likelihood of success!
1. The student is not aware of their behavior. Students will often self-correct in response to general classroom reminders of expected and unacceptable behavior. Is it the frequency or duration of the behavior that is problematic? Can that be a starting point for intervention? Non-verbal signals can be used to help students remain aware of their actions.
2. The student is unable or does not know how to exhibit the desired behavior. Every desired classroom behavior should be modeled and explicitly taught to students. Conference with the student to discuss the desired behavior. Agree on supports and assistance the student needs to be successful.
3. The student is seeking attention. What you pay attention to grows! The student may be using misbehavior in order to get attention from peers or adults. Look for opportunities to increase positive interactions and attention when the student’s behavior is appropriate. Decrease attention for misbehavior.
4. The behavior serves some other purpose for the student. This includes the feeling of power, task avoidance, or a relationship with someone outside of the classroom. Think: when you remove the child from the learning environment, where does he/she go? This alternate environment may be a reinforcement for student.