The Very Best Interventions for the
Very Worst Behavior Problems
Everyone at Youth Change Workshops is so excited that in January, 2011, our Director, Ruth Herman Wells was rated by SpeakerWiki as the #3 Elementary Education Speaker and #7 High School Ed Speaker in the U.S. She was also rated #8 of all Education Administrator Speakers. Ruth is known not just for her emotional, captivating speaking, but for her one-of-a-kind, unexpected behavior management interventions to turnaround the behavior problems presented by troubled youth and children. Here are some of Ruth's most popular, enduring, and effective classroom management interventions for students' bad behavior and attitude in school. Want more awesome behavior management solutions? Keep reading.
Me? Flunk English? That's Unpossible!
Just write this sentence on the board, then let the students discuss it:
"WiLl YOu RealY NevER ned a diPlOmA?" You may also repeat this exercise with this sentence: "Me? Flunk English? That's unpossible!" (The second sentence is from the cartoon show, "The Simpsons".) Ask your students to create other sentences like the two shown above. Also, you can ask your students to imagine how signs might be read by someone who hasn't learned to read very well. For example, ask them to imagine signs at the airport you better be able to read. They will devise many funny but provocative scenarios. Now that students see more value in reading and school, discuss with them how serious misbehavior at school keeps them from learning the information that they now acknowledge they need.
The Old Switcheroo Works Every Time
This is a very cagey intervention that reveals exactly who is the real problem. Make a list of problems that adults can have at work and in the community, such as "Mr. Frank is frequently late to work. Mr. Frank is angry at the boss for docking him pay for the time he's late, saying it is the boss's fault he loses money." Ask your students to determine who is accountable for the problem. Students will indicate that Mr. Frank is accountable. After the students determine adults are accountable in each scenario, present them with a second list of scenarios. This list should be exactly the same as the first list, but substitute youngsters for adults in each situation. Next, ask your group members to determine accountability. It may make for an interesting discussion, and provoke some new thinking. Few students will anticipate the old switcheroo. That's what gives this intervention so much power and impact. That's what makes this intervention work when more conventional strategies fail.
Live Through This– If You Can
Some students are very negative about school because they consider it to be a waste. Here is a fun intervention to show students that education may be essential. Have students write down the types of problems that an adult might have to deal with during one really bad day, then have them determine how many of these activities use skills learned in school. Your group will notice that education is needed to solve or manage all or most of the problems that happen to adults on really bad days. Include problems like the refrigerator is a bit warm, the car seems to slide for some reason on the wet road, and the bank says that your checking account is overdrawn.
The Texting Surgeon and the Distractible Pilot
Ask students to list their "dream jobs". Write the responses in a column on the board. Make a second column and ask the students to list problem behaviors that young people sometimes do. Include answers like swear, become distracted, and not follow directions. Next, draw a line from a dream job to a problem behavior. Ask the students to discern what could happen if the worker used the problem behavior. So, for example, what could happen if an airplane pilot didn't follow the air traffic controller's instructions? Another example: What could happen if a surgeon became distracted? Assist students to realize that problem behaviors can cause significant, even deadly consequences in many jobs, especially many of the jobs they describe as desirable. Ask the group to discuss how behavior problems at school will become behavior problems at work unless students decide to improve their conduct now. For students who say "I will just behave better on the job," challenge them to demonstrate those skills now by using only acceptable behavior for the next three months.