Classroom Management Forum
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The Classroom Management Forum is an educational service for teachers, counselors, principals, social workers, juvenile court staff, after-school workers and youth professionals.
The Classroom Management Forum provides free, expert advice and help as a community service by Youth Change Professional Development Workshops.
Questions must relate to behavior and classroom management, school violence, professional development, behavior management books and resources, or similar.
QUESTIONS shown in BLACK
ANSWERS shown in GREEN
Answers written by
Author, Keynote Speaker
Ruth Herman Wells, M.S.
Name: Jerry Esposito
Subject: School Violence
Job Title: High School Teacher
This has been a very rough year. We are having constant problems with defiance, disrespect, bullying, cruelty, disrespect and more. I simply do not understand what is going on and why it is getting so much worse.
We get this question over and over endlessly in our online professional development workshops and in-person general session workshops. For many years now, mental health professionals and juvenile justice workers have scoped out how to work with youngsters who act out quite violently. For whatever reason, that expertise has never become incorporated in mainstream teacher university training. So, you have a couple of disciplines that have perhaps developed some mastery at controlling these essentially uncontrollable youngsters– but that expertise has not reached educators on any kind of widespread basis.
Some of the youngsters at your school who act out with the most aggression, the most cruelty and use the most appalling behavior, may have a serious albeit fairly common mental health disorder. The name for the problem is conduct disorder.
Conduct disorder can only be diagnosed by a mental health or health professional but that is also true for other common mental health disorders like ADD and ADHD, for example. As an educator, you can’t diagnose mental health disorders, but you can certainly adjust how you work with a student if you think you are seeing a child with a specific mental health concern. For example, you might give lots of extra help to focus to a student with ADD– even if there is no actual diagnosis to assure you that your guess is accurate. That same type of process can work with conduct disorder (C.D.) While the diagnosis would be helpful, it is not essential prior to shifting to methods that will work well with this population of students.
Here is a key point: although students with C.D. compose only about 11-14% of your youngsters, they disproportionately cause problems at your school. One teacher joked that children with this disorder are the 1% of her students that take 99% of her time. There’s a lot of truth in that joke. If you get this youngster more in control, typically, the rest of your classroom will start to mellow out too.
Here is another key point: Ordinary, everyday interventions that work fine with students who don’t have this disorder, fail with students who do have the disorder. The reason is that most of your students are relationship-based creatures. They have consciences that can help control their behavior a lot of the time. Students who have C.D. lack consciences. Having no conscience works exactly like having no brakes on your car. Either way, things spin out of control. Lacking a conscience means there is absolutely nothing at all to slow down or stop bad behavior. Since conventional behavior management and discipline methods always fail with students who may have C.D; that’s why you have to use a special set of techniques with these youngsters.
Fortunately, we have a ton of resources to turnaround the situation you are facing. For free, we have a lot of articles on the subject. Find them in our Expert Articles Library. Start with the 3 Introductory articles then read the articles in the Violence and Aggression category of the library.
I can pretty much promise you that updating your skills with this difficult population will pay off big time. Most of your misbehaved students without this disorder are getting caught up in the misconduct of your students who do have C.D. Why? Sadly, students with C.D. make amazing negative leaders. Adults typically miss half of the bad things that the student with C.D. instigate as these kids tend to be 5 counties away when the problems go down. That’s why I strongly encourage you to learn about this disorder. All you have to lose is your worst student behavior problems.
Name: Mrs. Hueben
Subject: Looking for an online course that covers the huge range of behavior problems I see, but also the emotional problems and the total lack of social skills that some of my middle schoolers appear to evidence
Job Title: Middle School Special Education Teacher
My students are all over the place this year. The holiday break did little to calm them down. In fact, I’m pretty sure it made them worse. I really appreciate this free advice service. I so hope you can help because I am pretty much ready to quit. So, what do you have to conquer the acting out, melting down, freaking out, not showing up, leaving early, living in the bathroom, running through the hallways and torturing each other. Thanks for anything you can suggest.
Reply written by Ruth Herman Wells, M.S., Director, Youth Change at 2019-01-08
We do have a lot that can help. I am so sorry that your new year is not going any better than your old year.
Our signature workshop, Breakthrough Strategies to Teach and Counsel Troubled Youth should fit like a glove. It should also be one of the fastest ways that exist to upgrade your skills to rein in your rowdy middle schoolers. The course is offered live and also online, plus you can ask your administrator to book the on-site version of this inservice training into your school for training the whole team. In the live and on-site presentations, you can actually list your problems at the start of the workshop and we deliver approximately 200 new, improved, more effective strategies for those exact problems. We do cover everything on your long list– plus a lot more.
The course’s classroom management strategies are perfect for your age group and the course covers everything you mentioned and all the things you didn’t squeeze into your question. In addition, the workshop provides college credit and clock hours, making it even more useful. Given the range and seriousness that you describe, I think that your solution has to be something more than a quick read or a mini-class. I think it’s going to take a classroom management makeover and that’s exactly what the Breakthrough Strategies course is. Over the past few decades, this course has helped thousands, perhaps a million of other teachers, counselors, principals and youth professionals. That’s how I know that it could be the perfect solution for you.
Classroom management shouldn’t be as miserable as what you describe in your question. The Breakthrough Strategies course is the one classroom management training that really can make working with difficult students less difficult.