Academic journal article International Journal of Whole Schooling

Beyond Treats and Timeouts: Humanistic Behavioral Supports in Inclusive Classrooms

Academic journal article International Journal of Whole Schooling

Beyond Treats and Timeouts: Humanistic Behavioral Supports in Inclusive Classrooms

Article excerpt

Jayden, a third-grade student, arrived late and subsequently missed breakfast. She is already in a mood. She is supposed to be joining morning meeting, but instead remains at her desk, kicking the mud off of her shoes. The teacher invites her to the rug and Jayden calls back loudly, "Shut up--leave me alone!" Jayden's green card is removed to display her yellow card on the class behavior chart. Later, during math centers, students are using manipulatives to create patterns. A classmate tells Jayden she is "doing it wrong." Jayden ignores him. He repeats it, "You are doing it wrong" and he says to the teacher, "Jayden is not following directions." She throws the stack of cubes, hitting him hard in the face. The teacher then states, "Jayden, pull a card." Now Jayden's section on the behavior chart is red. She, along with everyone else, realizes she will not participate in choice time. Instead will be sitting at her desk. She begins to cry.

It is important to reflect upon this behavior program. Has Jayden's self-esteem improved? How does it impact her perceptions about school, teachers, and classmates? How does it impact the atmosphere or social relationships in an inclusive classroom? Has it increased her motivation and learning?

Laminated Rules and Elaborate Sticker Systems: State of Practice in Schools

As in Jayden's classroom, it is common to notice laminated rules, elaborate sticker charts, group point totals, and intricate red, green, and yellow systems. Schools have programs to reward behavior, whereby students earn coupons and, at assemblies, are recognized for good behavior. Research suggests that classrooms are becoming more inclusive (U.S. Department of Education, 2012), resulting in students who have a larger behavioral range. This varies from non-confrontational behaviors, such as shutting down, to more challenging behaviors such as fighting with classmates, running outside, or hurting oneself. Common punishments range from losing tokens or removal from class activities, to losing recess or receiving detention or suspension. More extreme responses consist of exclusion, seclusion in a timeout room, or restraint (Skiba & Peterson, 1999) and occur more frequently for students with disabilities (LeBel, Nunno, Mohr & O'Halloran, 2012; Ryan & Peterson, 2004; USGAO, 2009; USDE, 2012). Therefore, as schools continue to include students with a wider range of behaviors, greater attention must be paid to proactive behavior policies and interventions (Nooruddin & Baig, 2014).

Elementary and middle schools have increasingly implemented the Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) structure (Flannery, Guest, & Horner, 2010; Jackson & Panyan, 2002). This system provides a framework to simultaneously create a learning culture and teach behavior expectations through collaborative teams collecting data, implementing, and evaluating strategies (Safran & Oswald, 2003) and requires embedded training for school teams in order to establish and sustain positive, safe, and consistent practices for all students (Horner, Sugai, & Anderson, 2010).

Evidence-based strategies for supporting behavior are organized within a three-tiered continuum that is based upon a student's responsiveness to intervention techniques (OSEP, 2012). Recent research has shown that the implementation of PBIS evidences improvements in student behavior (Bradshaw, Mitchell, & Leaf, 2010; Horner, Carr, Halle, McGee, Odom, & Wolery, 2005. Kratochwill, Hitchcock, Horner, Levin, Odom, Rindskopf, & Shadish, 2010; Strickland & Horner, 2014). In this article we aim to shed light on some of the unintended consequences of common rewards and punishments. We provide more humanistic behavioral strategies within the context of PBIS that inclusive educators can adapt and utilize in their classrooms and schools. These suggestions can be put directly into students' Individualized Educational Programs (IEPs). …

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