WITH THE DISTRACTIONS of the holidays coming right up, it's more important than ever to reinforce what type of behavior you expect from your students. You probably already have standards and procedures in place to prevent misbehavior, but some students may need more pointed instruction in how to use the right social skills.
Students who have difficulty behaving may never have been taught how to conduct themselves and what are considered good manners. That's called a skill deficit.
Those who know how to act but choose not to conduct themselves appropriately are exhibiting a performance deficit.
Either way, children who don't use social skills have trouble making friends, meeting adult expectations and dealing with "people problems." Explicitly teaching these kids social skills, and explaining along the way how they will benefit from these skills, should help them develop the relationships they need to succeed in school and in life.
Students with skill deficits generally benefit from direct instruction in positive social behaviors. Students with performance deficits usually benefit from direct intervention with an incentive-based teaching approach.
Social skills instruction
* Identify the skills needed to replace problem behavior. Break down each skill into steps and have students practice them. For example, going to the restroom may include raising a hand (using a discrete signal for bathroom breaks is a good idea), waiting to be recognized, waiting for an answer and saying thank you. At the other end of the process, children may need step-by-step guidance on hand washing, drying and cleaning up after themselves.
* Model the skill. Seeing a skill leads children to imitate the skill, so if you want students never to do a certain thing - yelling or shouting, for instance - make sure you never do it yourself.
* Practice using the skill through role-playing or simulations. Consider scheduling a visit to the cafeteria to practice walking through the food line, politely making selections and demonstrating good manners during the meal.
* Reinforce acceptable behavior by providing specific feedback on good behavior as well as bad.
Once students master these skills, they are responsible for their own behavior. For this reason, it's important to show them how to manage their behavior in various social situations both inside and outside the …