Spring 2013: In the Special Education class I observe for my clinicals, I have had the chance to interact with and observe a particular student with behavior and discipline issues. This student has little to no desire to complete work, to make-up late assignments, or to even show up to classes. Some of his behaviors are late assignments, ignoring the teacher or instruction given, skipping out of classes or school, claiming to be sick, sitting in a rocking chair and listening to music, and avoiding any academic-related activities.
I feel that this student’s behavior is striving to fill his needs for fun and freedom. The student does not want to participate in school because it isn’t fun for him. He defines fun as being with friends and hanging out. He also wants to have independence without being told what he should or shouldn’t do.
I created a Behavior Contract based on the student’s academic performance and plans for the future. I started off with the baseline, or current level of student achievement. I stated the classes that the student was failing. After this, I stated the concern—that the student is failing academic classes that risk retaking the grade and not graduating in May of 2013. I wrote the goals for the student after this; then listed the strategies that are already in place within the classroom. By itemizing these strategies I am making both the student and parents aware of the procedures that are in place in the school to help the student. This also helps to show what the school is doing to assist the child so the school cannot be blamed in the future.
In creating this Behavior Contract, I made sure to use several strategies of classroom management. As itemized on the contract itself, I show that the teacher has used the strategy of questioning, similar to a restitution method, through her asking the student “What is your plan?” This is a non-confrontational strategy that puts the majority of the responsibility on the student himself. Since the strategy of asking the student what his plan is has not been effective, I included the section of new strategies to give specific consequences to the student for misbehavior. Because I used restitution methods, consequences, and a behavior contract, I feel that I have used many different classroom management strategies.
The strategies in affect as of March 1, 2013 include expectations for homework completion. The student is expected to complete homework at home, in study hall, and after school on Wednesdays. If the student does not follow through on his end of the contract, he will have consequences which include ten minute detentions for every piece of late work and withdrawal from school-wide fieldtrips. Because of this student’s need for fun, these consequences are related and effective. The consequences are also respectful: the student is only given a consequence when he misbehaves; when his homework assignments are not completed, then he receives a detention. The contract is also reasonable; the consequences are not too light or too harsh. The student only has a ten minute detention per late assignment, but this does add up if the student does not turn in his work. The consequences are also revealed—this is shown through the Behavior Contract. The student is notified of the new strategies and consequences, as are the parents. Because the student knows and understands the expectations, and has to sign the contract, he is encouraged to take personal responsibility for his grades and his behavior. These strategies both motivate the student and allow him to make a commitment to his academic success.
The Behavior Contract will be presented in a conference. This will allow the student to give personal input on the plan—whether he agrees, any strategies he disagrees with or wants to change, arguments he has, or even parent input. This conference will allow communication between the teacher, parents, principal, and student. It will also hold the student to higher expectations and encourage personal responsibility and motivation.
This Behavior Contract will meet the student’s need for fun because if his assignments are turned in, he will be able to have fun after school and not be in detention. It will meet the student’s need for freedom because the plan itself encourages individual responsibility. The student will be in complete control of the outcome—it will meet his need for freedom because he will be independent in producing successful results.
Overall, I believe that this Behavior Contract will allow the student to have a better academic career as it strives to meet the student’s needs, encourage self-responsibility and motivation, and its consequences are related, respectful, reasonable, and revealed.