Struggling to have a behavior system that will work in your speech room? Here are my 5 best tips!
1. Know Your Students
Yes. This may be obvious. But I don’t just mean their names, classrooms, and IEP goals. I mean what do they enjoy, what do they not enjoy, what is their attention span, and what are they motivated by! Use the first few weeks of school to find out the answers to these questions. Do various ice breakers, have conversations with your students, discuss with parents at back to school night or during phone conferences, and speak with the teachers and previous speech therapists. Gather as much information as possible and also see for yourself! What one teacher saw may not be what you will see!
2. Plan Strategically
I find the better I plan, the better my lessons will flow, and the less negative behaviors I will see. That doesn’t mean that I have beautifully written out lesson plans with standards and step by step procedures. I mean, I know what goals I am addressing and which activities I will use to address it. I know what materials I need and what I can do if the lesson flops! I am prepared with how I am going to break it down for struggling students or make it more challenging if it seems too easy! What do I mean? Let’s just say I am working on inferencing and I decided to use my Capture The Criminal activity.
Too difficult? I can use my graphic organizer, I can model, I can narrow down the choices for my students on the visual. Too easy? I can hide the visual, make the students express the clues that helped them, I can even have my students write their own clues! This is why many if not most of my TpT products contains visuals, graphic organizers, and review worksheets. I want you to have all the tools necessary to break it down or make it more challenging. I also want you to be prepared in case the activity goes faster than planned. By having review worksheets, you can use them as time fillers or for data collection.
3. Games are fun!
Yes, SLPs love games and our students do too! They are fun, they are motivating, and they work! I try to make any activity into a game! My students learn early in the year, they want to play games, they have to follow the rules, participate, try their hardest, and be respectful. Game gets out of hand? Student is a bad sport? Game goes away!
4. Have a behavior rewarding system and stick to it!
Prize bin, brag tags, whatever it is stick to it! Students will learn that you mean business (and they also know if you stray away!). Take the first few weeks to learn if students need rewarding after each session, after minute intervals, after a week, or after like 10 tokens/stickers/etc. I have had so many students that needed to be rewarded each session. I may just use a sticker which isn’t too expensive. I have also had to use timers to let students know that after 3 minutes of working they can get 1 minute off. Learn how long they can go and make a system. Yes, that means you may need a different system for each group/student. But you can use the same “rewards” for all. That was why I created my Behavior Modification Visual System.
5. Be fun, approachable, but earn their respect!
By building rapport in the first few weeks, my students learn that I mean business but we can have fun if we do the work. They know they can come to me if something is bothering them, they are struggling with anything academically, or just want to share something funny that happened to them over the weekend. I allow time for chit chat, I ask them about their day, and I am approachable. I use the time that I have to spend on the playground during lunch duty to see how they interact with each other and to learn more about them. Who do they play with? What do they do for fun during their time off? Use this information to your benefit! I can typically be found with a group of my students (and their friends) surrounding me. I am teaching them knock knock jokes or games they can play on the playground.
I hope these tips help you reduce the negative behaviors in your speech room. Learn your students, build rapport and respect, and have fun!