Management Of Student Conduct Education Essay

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Surveys of graduates of education schools and colleges indicate that the #1 area of concern of new teachers is their feelings of inadequacy in managing classrooms.  Despite clinical experiences, student teaching, and other observations in classroom settings, this problem has persisted.  There is no elixir that will confer skill in this area of professional responsibility. We only wish there were.

Classroom management and management of student conduct are skills that teachers acquire and hone over time. These skills almost never "jell" until after a minimum of few years of teaching experience.  To be sure, effective teaching requires considerable skill in managing the myriad of tasks and situations that occur in the classroom each day.  Skills such as effective classroom management are central to teaching and require "common sense," consistency, a sense of fairness, and courage. These skills also require that teachers understand in more than one way the psychological and developmental levels of their students.  The skills associated with effective classroom management are only acquired with practice, feedback, and a willingness to learn from mistakes. Sadly, this is often easier said than done. Certainly, a part of this problem is that there is no practical way for education students to "practice" their nascent skills outside of actually going into a classroom setting. The learning curve is steep, indeed.

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As previously mentioned, personal experience and research indicate that many beginning teachers have difficulty effectively managing their classrooms. While there is no one best solution for every problem or classroom setting, the following principles, drawn from a number of sources, might help. Classroom teachers with many years of experience have contributed to an understanding of what works and what doesn't work in managing classrooms and the behavior of students. The following information represents some of the things that good classroom teachers do to maintain an atmosphere that enhances learning. It is written in straightforward, non-preachy language, and will not drive you to distraction with its length. I think most students appreciate that. With that in mind, I truly hope this information is useful to you.

An Effective Classroom Management Context

(these four things are fundamental)

1. Know what you want and what you don't want.

2. Show and tell your students what you want.

3. When you get what you want, acknowledge (not praise) it.

4. When you get something else, act quickly and appropriately.

ROOM ARRANGEMENT

While good room arrangement is not a guarantee of good behavior, poor planning in this area can create conditions that lead to problems.

* The teacher must be able to observe all students at all times and to monitor work and behavior. The teacher should also be able to see the door from his or her desk.

* Frequently used areas of the room and traffic lanes should be unobstructed and easily accessible.

* Students should be able to see the teacher and presentation area without undue turning or movement.

* Commonly used classroom materials, e.g., books, attendance pads, absence permits, and student reference materials should be readily available.

* Some degree of decoration will help add to the attractiveness of the room.

SETTING EXPECTATIONS FOR BEHAVIOR

* Teachers should identify expectations for student behavior and communicate those expectations to students periodically.

* Rules and procedures are the most common explicit expectations. A small number of general rules that emphasize appropriate behavior may be helpful. Rules should be posted in the classroom. Compliance with the rules should be monitored constantly.

* Do not develop classroom rules you are unwilling to enforce.

* School-Wide Regulations...particularly safety procedures...should be explained carefully.

* Because desirable student behavior may vary depending on the activity, explicit expectations for the following procedures are helpful in creating a smoothly functioning classroom:

- Beginning and ending the period, including attendance procedures and what students may or may not do during these times.

- Use of materials and equipment such as the pencil sharpener, storage areas, supplies, and special equipment.

- Teacher-Led Instruction

- Seatwork

- How students are to answer questions - for example, no student answer will be recognized unless he raises his hand and is called upon to answer by the teacher.

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- Independent group work such as laboratory activities or smaller group projects.

Remember, good discipline is much more likely to occur if the classroom setting and activities are structured or arranged to enhance cooperative behavior.

MANAGING STUDENT ACADEMIC WORK

* Effective teacher-led instruction is free of:

- Ambiguous and vague terms

- Unclear sequencing

- Interruptions

* Students must be held accountable for their work.

* The focus is on academic tasks and learning as the central purpose of student effort, rather than on good behavior for its own sake.

MANAGING INAPPROPRIATE BEHAVIOR

* Address instruction and assignments to challenge academic achievement while continuing to assure individual student success.

* Most inappropriate behavior in classrooms that is not seriously disruptive and can be managed by relatively simple procedures that prevent escalation.

* Effective classroom managers practice skills that minimize misbehavior.

* Monitor students carefully and frequently so that misbehavior is detected early before it involves many students or becomes a serious disruption.

* Act to stop inappropriate behavior so as not to interrupt the instructional activity or to call excessive attention to the student by practicing the following unobstructive strategies:

- Moving close to the offending student or students, making eye contact and giving a nonverbal signal to stop the offensive behavior.

- Calling a student's name or giving a short verbal instruction to stop behavior.

- Redirecting the student to appropriate behavior by stating what the student should be doing; citing the applicable procedure or rule.

Example: "Please, look at the overhead projector and read the first line with me, I need to see everyone's eyes looking here."

- More serious, disruptive behaviors such as fighting, continuous interruption of lessons, possession of drugs and stealing require direct action according to school board rule.

Assertive Discipline has been used by many schools, and is an effective way to manage behavior. Find out more by clicking here.

PROMOTING APPROPRIATE USE OF CONSEQUENCES

* In classrooms, the most prevalent positive consequences are intrinsic student satisfaction resulting from success, accomplishment, good grades, social approval and recognition.

* Students must be aware of the connection between tasks and grades.

* Frequent use of punishment is associated with poor classroom management and generally should be avoided.

* When used, negative consequences or punishment should be related logically to the misbehavior.

* Milder punishments are often as effective as more intense forms and do not arouse as much negative emotion.

* Misbehavior is less likely to recur if a student makes a commitment to avoid the action and to engage in more desirable alternative behaviors.

* Consistency in the application of consequences is the key factor in classroom management.

SOME ESOL PRINCIPLES 

(A FEW THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT L.E.P. STUDENTS):

* They are not stupid and they can hear what is being said.. They just don't necessarily understand the language or culture, yet.

* They come from a variety of backgrounds, even in the same country. For example schooled, unschooled, Americanized, etc.

* It is easy to misunderstand body language and certain behaviors. For example, eye contact, spitting, chalk eating, etc.

* Don't assume they understand something just because it seems simple to you. Simplify, boil down.

* Even when they have lost their accent, they often misunderstand common words and phrases.

* Correct repeated patterns or mistakes.

* Good E.S.O.L. strategies are good teaching strategies.

GUIDELINES FOR EFFECTIVE PRAISE

(Applies primarily to praise associated with instruction and student performance)

Effective Praise

Ineffective Praise

1. Is delivered contingently upon student

performance of desirable behaviors or

genuine accomplishment

1. Is delivered randomly and indiscriminately without specific attention to genuine accomplishment

2. Specifies the praiseworthy aspects of the student's accomplishments

2. Is general or global, not specifying the success.

3. Is expressed sincerely, showing spontaneity, variety and other non-verbal signs of credibility.

3. Is expressed blandly without feeling or animation, and relying on stock, perfunctory phrases.

4. Is given for genuine effort, progress, or accomplishment which are judged according to standards appropriate to individuals.

4. Is given based on comparisons with others and without regard to the effort expended or significance of the accomplishment of an individual.

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5. Provides information to students about their competence or the value of their accomplishments.

5. Provides no meaningful information to the students about their accomplishments.

6. Helps students to better appreciate their thinking, problem-solving and performance.

6. Orients students toward comparing themselves with others.

7. Attributes student success to effort and ability, implying that similar successes can be expected in the future.

7. Attributes student success to ability alone or to external factors such as luck or easy task.

8. Encourages students to appreciate their accomplishments for the effort they expend and their personal gratification.

8. Encourages students to succeed for external reasons -- to please the teacher, win a competition or reward, etc.

In searching the Internet, I occasionally come upon sites that have very useful information about classroom management. Often, a simple checklist is an invaluable tool. Here are a few links that I think have helpful information:

http://people.clarityconnect.com/webpages/terri/classmanagement.html

http://www.ldonline.org/ld_indepth/teaching_techniques/class_manage.html

http://www.teachervision.com/lesson-plans/lesson-9154.html

http://www.theteachersguide.com/ClassManagement.htm

http://www.education-world.com/preservice/learning/management.shtml

http://www.teachnet.com/how-to/manage/

http://www.proteacher.com/030000.shtml

http://www.teachnet.com/how-to/manage/tattling100600.html

There are many other areas on the ADPRIMA site that might interest you, and you are invited to take a look, get what you want, and let us know what you think. Your opinion is important and valued.

"Anything not understood in more than one way is not understood at all."

Okay, now for something to read that might give you a chill or two.... What Waits Within http://www.adprima.com/whatwaits.htm

Teachers can advance their careers by clicking http://www.adprima.com/distanted.htm

I would like to thank all who order Lesson Planning: From Writing Objectives to Selecting Instructional Programs, http://www.adprima.com/wlo5.htm as well as books, music, electronics, DVDs, software, and household items  from AMAZON.COM through ADPRIMA. By doing so, you help support the operation and maintenance of this site.

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Bob Kizlik

Education Information for New and Future Teachers

Ideas for Avoiding Classroom Management Mistakes

and How to Deal with Parents

Dr. Bob Kizlik

Updated January 5, 2010

Beginning teachers. New teachers. Either of these terms often conveys a sense of helplessness and vulnerability, but that need not be so. If you are reading this page, it is probably because you are a beginning teacher, or are planning to be one. In every single class I have taught to future teachers, their greatest fear concerns problems they envision that are connected to classroom management and relationships with parents. For many, these imagined problems can be overwhelming and often border on terror - not a good thing. While there is no shortage of advice in books and on the Internet about how to manage a classroom and deal effectively with parents, here are some of the best ideas I have gleaned in my career. They come from a variety of sources including my own personal experience as a teacher and parent. Make of them what you will.

-- Classroom Management Quickies --

Mistakes New Teachers Often Make, So Don't

New teachers often -

Have not figured out what exactly they want and don't want - a root cause of much of what follows.

Overpraise students for doing what is expected.

Don't know the difference between praise and acknowledgement and when each is appropriate.

Fail to do effective long-range and daily planning.

Spend too much time with one student or one group and not monitoring the entire class.

Begin a new activity before gaining the students' attention.

Talk too fast, and are sometimes shrill.

Use a voice level that is always either too loud or too soft.

Stand too long in one place (the feet of clay syndrome).

Sit too long while teaching (the posterior of clay syndrome).

Overemphasize the negative.

Do not require students to raise hands and be acknowledged before responding.

Are way too serious and not much fun.

Are way too much fun and not serious.

Fall into a rut by using the same teaching strategy or combination of strategies day after day.

Ineffectively use silence (wait time) after asking a content question.

Are ineffective when they use facial expressions and body language.

Tend to talk to and interact with only half the class (usually their favorites, and usually on the right)..

Collect and return student papers before assigning students something to do.

Interrupt students while they are on task.

Use "SHHHH" as a means of quieting students (one of the most annoying and ineffective behaviors).

Overuse verbal efforts to stop inappropriate student behavior - talk alone accomplishes little.

Settle for less rather than demand more.

Use threats to control the class (short term, produces results; long term, backfires).

Use global praise inappropriately.

Use color meaninglessly, even to the point of distraction (I know you've seen this happen).

Verbally reprimand students across the classroom (get close and personal if possible).

Interact with only a "chosen few" students rather than spreading interactions around to all students.

Do not intervene quickly enough during inappropriate student behavior.

Do not learn and use student names in an effective way (kids pick up quickly on this and respond in kind).

Read student papers only for correct answers and not for process and student thinking.

Ask global questions that nobody likely will answer.

Fail to do appropriate comprehension checks to see if students understand the content as it is taught.

Use poorly worded, ambiguous questions.

Try to talk over student noise (never, ever, do this, because when you do, you lose and they win).

Are consistently inconsistent.

Will do anything to be liked by students.

Permit students to be inattentive to an educationally useful media presentation (this happens a lot).

Introduce too many topics simultaneously (usually the result of poor planning).

Sound egocentric (if you have to get your jollies from your students, there might be a problem).

Take too much time to give verbal directions for an activity (an inability to focus and explain effectively).

Take too much time for an activity (usually the result of poor planning).

Are nervous, uptight, and anxious (if this is persistent, you need help).

Overuse punishment for classroom misbehavior - going to an extreme when other consequences work better.

Massachusetts teacher's associates http://www.massteacher.org/career/new_members/behavior/index.cfm. It is a snapshot of the page as it appeared on Jan 12, 2010

Behavior Management

"Behavior Management may be the critical skill you did not learn in your teacher prep courses," notes MTA New Teacher Committee Chair Ryan Hoyt.   

"Every teacher has his or her own recipe for dealing with student behavior in the classroom. For some, the recipe is strong and arresting, like Five-Alarm Chili or Shrimp Fra Diavolo. For others, it is mild and smooth, like a recipe for Pumpkin Pie or Crème Brûlée," according to Hoyt, a fifth grade teacher at Northeast Elementary in Waltham. "Whatever your flavor intensity, here are some ingredients to include for a recipe that works time and time again."

1. Establish a Routine.  Your students should know exactly what to expect from the moment they enter your room.  Should they have their homework on their desk or pass it in? Are there notes to be taken? Is there an assignment to begin? Breaking a class routine can lead to chaos, confusion, frustration and lost time. Routines make children feel comfortable and secure; when our students feel this way, we've established an environment that fosters learning.

2. Lead by example. I don't allow my students to interrupt me when I am speaking, so I make sure to extend that courtesy to them. When I get up from my desk, I push in my chair. I say "thank you" when collecting assignments from students and expect them to say the same when I hand them something, whether it be a replacement pencil or an MCAS exam.  When I am wrong about something, I admit this to the students and expect them to do the same.

3. Be firm. As a child's teacher, you are not his or her friend. I am respected by my students because I levy consequences when they misbehave or fail to do something that they should. Furthermore, I follow through with these consequences. I often see teachers become angry with a student and immediately take recess away from them. The problem is, the teacher often forgets about the punishment, or realizes that a conflict arises during recess time and they simply can't keep the child inside. Think carefully about the consequences you impose, because follow through is a must. As soon as a student realizes that you don't intend to follow through with your punishment, you become the teacher to walk all over without fear of any consequence. Other students will notice and any respect you once had with your students will slowly erode.

4. Be fair. Think about the consequences you impart and if the punishment fits the crime. If a child forgets his homework, is sending him to the office appropriate? Should the student miss an entire lesson as a consequence for his forgetfulness? If you catch a student cheating, is loss of recess suitable? When students are talking in class when they should be silent, the consequence should be a silent lunch, not a trip to the office.

"Every supportive colleague or teacher self-help book underscores the fact that establishing classroom expectations in September is necessary, said Hoyt. "But what if you're not starting out in September? What if you've discovered that your expectations are not, well, what you expected them to be? Well, it's never too late to wipe the slate clean and prepare your recipe from scratch again."

 

Behavior Management: Getting to the Bottom of Social Skills Deficits

By: Judith Osgood Smith (1995)

When someone mentions behavior management, our first thought may be about controlling students or stopping them from performing inappropriate behaviors. We expend a great deal of energy managing students so that inappropriate behaviors will not occur. However, successful termination of inappropriate behavior is no guarantee that appropriate behavior will take its place. One of the most puzzling and frustrating problems encountered by parents and teachers of students with learning disabilities (LD) is not the student who obviously acts out or engages in overtly antisocial behaviors, but rather the one who simply fails to perform the appropriate behavior for a given circumstance or setting. This problem is frequently labeled a social skill deficit (Gresham & Elliott, 1 989).

Students with LD may exhibit social skill deficits that are either skill-based or performance-based. In other words, either the skill may not be in the student's repertoire or the student may have acquired the skill but it is not performed at an acceptable level. Effective intervention requires identification and remediation of the specific type of deficit exhibited by the student. This article will delineate the differences between skill-based and performance-based social skills deficits and present intervention approaches in each area.

Skill-based deficits

A skill-based deficit exists when a student has not learned how to perform a given behavior. For example, a student who has not learned to do long division could be said to have a long division skill deficit. Similarly, a student who hasn't mastered the skill of greeting others appropriately may have a skill deficit in that area. Few parents or teachers would punish a student for not knowing how to do long division. Unfortunately, however, we sometimes become angry with students when they don't demonstrate the social skill we d desire them to display. Reprimands and loss of privileges are common reactions. A critical issue is whether the student actually possesses the desired skill. If not, it is unreasonable to demand that it occur or scold the student if it doesn't. Our anger and punishment can only add to the frustration of the student who knows he or she did something wrong, but has no clue as to how to fix it.

We may determine if a student has a skill deficit by observing whether the desired skill has ever been performed. If not, one may hypothesize that the skill is not in the student's repertoire. This may be tested further by providing strong incentives to perform the desired behavior. If the student fails to perform under these conditions, it is likely that the problem stems from a skill deficiency. The bottom line: don't scold or reprimand the student for having a skill based deficit; instead, teach the skill.

Teaching social skills

Generally, a skill-based deficit is due to lack of opportunity to learn or limited models of appropriate behavior (Gresham & Elliott, 1989). Even given the opportunity to learn and the appropriate model, students with LD may not learn these skills incidentally or intuitively. In these instances, direct instruction, or skill training, is necessary. The same principles apply to teaching social skills as to academic skills: provide ample demonstration/modeling, guided practice with feedback, and independent practice.

Hazel, Schumaker, Sherman, and SheldonWildgen (1981) listed eight fundamental social skills which can be taught through direct instruction:

Giving positive feedback (e.g., thanking and giving compliments),

Giving negative feedback (e.g., giving criticism or correction),

Accepting negative feedback without hostility or inappropriate reactions,

Resisting peer pressure to participate in delinquent behavior,

Solving personal problems,

Negotiating mutually acceptable solutions to problems,

Following instructions, and

Initiating and maintaining a conversation.

They recommended teaching these skills by providing definitions, illustrations with examples, modeling, verbal rehearsal, behavioral rehearsal, and additional practice.

Similarly, Walker, Colvin, and Ramsey (1995) recommended a nine step direct instructional procedure, the ACCEPTS instructional sequence. The steps include:

Definition of the skill with guided discussion of examples,

Modeling or video presentation of the skill being correctly applied,

Modeling or video presentation of incorrect application (non example),

Review,

Modeling or video presentation of a second example with debriefing,

Modeling a range of examples, coupled with hypothetical practice situations,

Modeling or video presentation of another positive example if needed,

Role playing, and

Informal commitment from student to try the skill in a natural setting.

In summary, students with LD who have not acquired social skills are not likely to learn casually or incidentally. Intervention for skill-based deficits should focus on direct instruction of the skill. Effective instructional methods include demonstration/modeling with guided practice and feedback.

Performance-based deficits

A performance-based deficit exists when the student possesses a skill but doesn't perform it under the desired circumstances. This may occur if there is a problem with either motivation or with ability to discriminate as to when to exhibit the appropriate behavior.

Motivational deficit

When a motivational deficit exists, the student possesses the appropriate skill, but doesn't desire to perform it. A motivational deficit may be hypothesized if observations reveal that the student has acquired the desired skill, but motivational conditions are not sufficiently strong to elicit it. The hypothesis may be confirmed if the student performs the behavior following introduction of a motivational strategy. For example, in the area of conversation skills, we may suspect that a student is capable of interpreting cues from peers that indicate that it is someone else's turn to talk, but instead chooses to interrupt. This theory may be verified if the student waits to speak when rewarded for taking turns. The student could then be considered to have a motivational deficit. In situations such as this, behavioral interventions are effective.

Motivational strategies

Parents and teachers of students with motivational deficits can manipulate contingencies that will encourage performance of prosocial behaviors by using the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). The steps include defining the target behavior operationally, identifying antecedents and consequences related to the behavior, and finally developing and carrying out a plan to alter the antecedents and consequences so that the desired behavior will occur. For example, the behavior of "interrupting" may be defined as "speaking before your partner has completed his or her sentence." The antecedents to this behavior may be poor models and the consequence to interrupting may be attention from the listener. The next step is to develop a plan which encourages turn taking during conversations. An antecedent technique may be to remind the student about taking turns prior to a conversation and a consequence may be to pay attention only when the student waits his or her turn prior to speaking. Good school/home communication and collaboration can ensure consistency of carrying out the plan in both settings.

Most students of ABA who have succeeded at a self-improvement program such as a diet or exercise regime will confirm that the principles of ABA can be effectively used on oneself. Bos and Vaughn (1995) postulated that these same principles can be taught to adolescents so that they can implement a self-management program. The adolescent with LD would first learn to identify the behavior he or she wants to change, then identify the antecedents and consequences connected to the behavior, and, finally, develop an intervention which alters the antecedents and provides consequences that will maintain the desired behavior. A further suggestion would be to have the adolescent chart his or her progress toward a self-selected reward. To summarize, once identified, motivational deficits can be remediated using behavior management techniques, either by the adult in the situation, or by the student in question.

Discrimination deficit

A student with a discrimination deficit has the desired skill in his or her repertoire, is motivated to behave properly, but can't discriminate, (i.e., doesn't know when to exhibit the desired behavior). A discrimination deficit may be confirmed if the student frequently performs the desired behavior, but fails to perform it under specific conditions. This may be due to an inability to glean relevant information from social situations. When a discrimination deficit exists, the student possesses the desired behavior but may not be sure as to when, where, and how much to engage in that behavior.

Bryan (1991) reviewed research on social competence of students with LD. Most studies found that students with LD had poorer social cognition than non-disabled or low achieving students. A deficit in social cognition may be apparent in a student who is oblivious to social cues or who lacks understanding of the social demands of a situation (Bryan, 1994).

The hidden curriculum

Given the same information as everyone else, students with LD may not demonstrate appropriate social skills because they do not understand the hidden curriculum ascertained by more socially adept student. Lavoie (1994) suggested assessment of the student's knowledge of the hidden curriculum as a step in teaching the student to discriminate the appropriate behavior for a given situation.

The first step is to determine the hidden curriculum, or culture, pertaining to the school the student attends. For example, what extracurricular activities are viewed by others as important? What are the hidden rules governing social functions? What is the administrative framework? Which teachers emphasize completion of daily assignments, punctuality, and/or class participation? This information can be obtained from teachers, support staff, and school publications such as the yearbook or school newsletter.

Once the hidden curriculum is identified, the next step is to assess the student's knowledge in key areas. There are many things which we may take for granted about which the student may be embarrassed or incapable of obtaining an explanation. Specifically, the following questions should be answered:

Does the student understand how the schedule works?

Does the student know how to get from one place to another in the school building,

Is the student aware of the requirements for participation in extracurricular activities, including deadlines and eligibility procedures?

Can the student identify the social cliques?

Can the student identify support staff (e.g., the school nurse, the guidance counselor)? Does he or she know how to gain access to their services?

In short, the hidden curriculum must first be identified and then the student's level of understanding of it must be assessed. Only then can information be provided to the student to fill in the gaps.

Teaching discrimination

A common characteristic of students with LD is impulsivity, the tendency to act without considering the consequences or appropriateness of one's behavior. This may be seen as an interfering behavior, which will be discussed in the following section. However, what on first glance appears to be impulsivity may in reality be an inability to understand the limits of acceptable behavior. Acceptability of behavior frequently varies according to the setting or circumstance. For example, a student may not know which teachers tolerate conversation and when it is appropriate to talk with peers. What is acceptable behavior on the playground may not be acceptable in the classroom.

According to Smith and Rivera (1993), "educators must help students learn to discriminate among the behavioral options in each school situation and match that situation with the proper behavior pattern" (p. 24). Some social skill problems occur simply because students do not understand how to read environmental cues that indicate whether or not a behavior is acceptable. In short, when there is a discrimination deficit, we must help the student size up the social situation and determine what to do. If the student cannot discriminate, we must teach what is acceptable in a given circumstance.

Lavoie (1994) introduced a problem solving approach to teaching discrimination called the social autopsy. A social autopsy is the examination or inspection of a social error in order to determine why it occurred and how to prevent it from occurring in the future. When a student makes an academic error, we provide the right answer and use the mistake as an opportunity to learn. I n other words, we teach the student how to "fix" the mistake. Similarly, Lavoie (1994) suggested that instead of punishing the student for making a social mistake, we should analyze it and use it as an opportunity to learn . The process involves asking the student, "What do you think you did wrong? What was your mistake?" By actively involving the student in discussion and analysis of the error, a lesson can be extracted from the situation which enables the student to see the cause effect relationship between his or her behavior and the consequences or reactions of others.

Underlying the social autopsy are the following principles:

Teach all adults who have regular contact with the student to perform social autopsies. This includes family members, custodial staff, cafeteria workers, bus drivers, teachers, secretaries, and administrators. This will foster generalization by ensuring that the student participates in dozens of autopsies daily.

Conduct social autopsies immediately after the error occurs. This will provide a direct and instantaneous opportunity to demonstrate the cause and effect of social behaviors.

Use social autopsies to analyze socially correct behaviors as well as errors. This will provide reinforcement which may assist the student in repeating the appropriate behavior in another setting.

Help students identify and classify their own feelings or emotions.

There are several advantages of this method: (a) It uses the sound learning principles of immediate feedback, drill and practice, and positive reinforcement; (b) It is constructive and supportive rather than negative or punishing; (c) It provides an opportunity for the active involvement of the student, rather than an adult controlled intervention; and (d) It generally involves one-on-one assistance to the student.

To summarize, limited awareness of the conventions of behavior and inability to decode the hidden curriculum and social cues contribute to deficits in discrimination of social skills. Interventions for students with these problems should be geared toward helping the student analyze the components of social situations so that discrimination can occur.

Self-control

This article has discussed the classification and remediation of social skills deficits. However, there is one problem that may inhibit success, even if we are able to classify successfully the student's problem and design an appropriate intervention. Interfering or competing behaviors may interrupt the student's ability to learn or demonstrate appropriate social skills. Such problems can contribute to both skill and performance deficits so that a student may have difficulty either learning a new skill or performing it when appropriate.

Common interferences experienced by students with LD are impulsivity (the tendency to act without considering consequences or to choose the first solution that comes to mind), distractibility (tendency to focus on minor details, to pay attention to everything), and perseveration (repetition of behavior due to inability to change motoric or verbal responses; inability to shift gears). Hyperactivity (excessive motor activity) can also interfere. Either a systematic behavioral approach or self-management techniques may be helpful, depending on the student, the situation, and the interfering behavior. For the distractible student, self-monitoring and charting of attention or work completed may be helpful. Students who are impulsive can learn problem solving strategies which force them to dissect problems and evaluate possible consequences. Bos and Vaughn (1994) recommended a strategy called FAST for this purpose.

The steps in FAST are:

Freeze and think! What is the problem?

Alternatives? What are my possible solutions?

Solution evaluation. Choose the best solution: safe? fair?

Try it! Slowly and carefully. Does it work (p.371)?

Conclusion

In conclusion, remediation must be directly related to the type of social skill deficit. If the student has a skill-based deficit, the appropriate intervention strategy is to teach the deficient skill. If motivation is a problem, behavioral interventions are appropriate. If the student has difficulty discriminating what is the acceptable behavior for a given circumstance, we must provide the information needed so that discrimination is possible and assist the student in analyzing positive social behaviors as well as social errors. Interfering behaviors must also be considered. Educators and parents can do much to alleviate social skills problems by discerning whether social skills deficits are skill based or performance based and designing interventions accordingly.

References