Developing a Classroom Management Plan Using a Tiered Approach

Article excerpt

Randi, a special education teacher, has worked in an inclusive sixth grade classroom with Colleen, a general education teacher, since August. Although the class has been running fairly smoothly, it is September and some behavior issues have arìsen. Transitions between lessons have been taking longer, general noise level during group work is up, and students have been teasing peers or making negative comments during group discussions. In addition, a small group of students is not completing assignments on time. The two students who have individualized education program (IEP) goals directly related to behavior are also experiencing difficulties. One student has shut down and refuses to do work, and the other student has been getting into fights during lunch break. Although Colleen and Randi had rules and consequences in place at the start of the year, they have decided they need to develop a comprehensive classroom management plan.

Every year teachers plan for the management of students' behavior within their classrooms. Preparation may include developing a set of class rules, specifying procedures for daily tasks, or developing a consequence hierarchy (e.g., first infraction = X consequence, second infraction - Y consequence, etc.). Effective classroom management is essential for teaching, and it is not surprising to any teacher to find that management issues are frequently cited among reasons for leaving the field (Browers & Tomic, 2000; Ingersoll & Smith, 2003). Poor classroom management results in lost instructional time, feelings of inadequacy, and stress. In addition, special educators often have the responsibility of behavior change as a primary goal of instruction. In situations, teachers move beyond need to "manage" behavior and address challenging behaviors on to identify ways to transform maladaptive behavior into someappropriate and effective for students.

In this article, we present a (RTI) framework that both special and general education teachers can use in evaluating existing class structures and developing comprehensive classroom management plans for the purpose of managing challenging behaviors. (See box, "What Is RTI All About?") We applied the concept of a three-tiered model of support at the classroom level for individual (or team) teachers. Ultimately, this three-tier support structure would be a part of a schoolwide PBS model, but for many teachers or teams who are still addressing behaviors at a classroom level instead of schoolwide the RTI model provides an excellent structure to think about behavioral interventions. Special educators who teach in self-contained, resource, or collaborative classrooms can use the guidelines to create comprehensive classroom management plans. The framework provided includes evidence-based practices that teachers can apply at each tier of support. The plan incorporates guiding questions that direct teachers in selecting those practices that will best meet their context (i.e., grade level) and student population (i.e., students with and without disabilities, students at risk for school failure, students whose first language is not English).

Three-Tiered Model of Classroom Behavioral Supports

Before teachers can begin to implement a multileveled approach to classroom behavioral support, they should identify and evaluate existing classroom structures. This process provides a basis for determining where additional supports are needed. Specific, guiding questions include the following:

* What is the core, behavioral curriculum provided? How are behavioral expectations communicated to students through existing practices?

* What interventions or additional behavioral supports are in place? If students demonstrate challenging behaviors, what are the responses to these behaviors?

* What individualized, intensive behavioral supports are used for the most challenging of classroom behaviors? For those few students who demonstrate chronic, challenging behaviors, what consistent strategies are used across all classes and teachers? …