Students with special needs are at an increased risk fro having low self-esteem which can often impact their potential for achievement. The best way to overcome this is to reinforce students with positive behaviors and help them work through challenges they may be facing daily.
Glasser (1984) developed a theory that suggests that students need to be taught to control their behavior in order to succeed, and thus the role of the teacher is in part to help students learn control through decision making that is positive. Working with special needs populations, I have learned how to help guide students in a manner that encourages control and self-reliance. My work has led me to the general belief that students can learn to control their behavior when they are mentored more so than 'lectured' to, as students often model the behaviors they admire in others. The teacher in every situation possible should work toward influencing students by demonstrating behaviors they would like to see students model in this situation.
Handling violations of rules and procedures requires a firm hand. From my work as a teacher I have found that students need to be made comfortable and secure in the classroom. Students don't come into a classroom with social and life skills, rather they must learn them (ITC, 2004). If teachers don't provide a framework for discipline and firm guidelines for students to follow, students will not have any sense of direction and thus are more likely to violate rules and not well defined procedures.
Students can however learn rules and procedures through consistent offering of meaningful curriculum that develops an expectation of excellence and requires group activity sessions where students learn to communicate and learn effectively (ITC, 2004). I have learned that a meaningful curriculum that emphasizes personal excellence in the classroom is one of the most effective teaching strategies that can be adopted in the classroom setting, regardless of the size or make up of the classroom.
Some of the best problem solving techniques incorporate use of active listening, where the teacher not only teaches students to listen and understand but also ask thoughtful questions in return (ITC, 2004). Students must also be provided an environment where they are not put down, where negative and hurtful language is prohibited and where students are taught to aspire to achieve their personal bets (ITC, 2004).
This can be accomplished through self-evaluation, where teacher encourage students to evaluate their own performance and behaviors and model ideal behaviors, thus striving to expect excellence from themselves (ITC, 2004).
In the classroom I have found the most effective techniques for managing conflict to be creation of a supportive and encouraging environment. The role of the teacher in my experience has been that of manager and facilitator. I have also found that school wide programs that encourage teachers to share behavior management strategies generally result in the best possible outcome for the school as a whole.
Studies support the notion that conflict management rests upon the ability of teachers to create a firm, supportive but also positive and encouraging environment (Edwards, 1994). Supporting individual participation and group understanding may also limit the incidence of violence within the classroom (Edwards, 2004).
For the most serious threats to student livelihood, sometimes increased surveillance and stricter discipline may be necessary. Generally however I have found that teachers can help minimize the most serious threats by creating an environment that is conducive to learning and that eliminates conflict by supporting and reinforcing positive behaviors only.
My experience has been that vigilance on the part of the teacher generally will help identify potential serious threats to students or educators well being before they become too severe. Teachers have an obligation to check in with students and monitor not only their progress but also behavior to help detect problems early on.
Edwards, C. (1994). Learning and control in the classroom. Journal of Instructional
Psychology, 21(4), 340-346.
Glasser, W. (1984). Control theory. New York: Harper and Row.
ITC. (2004). "Classroom Management: A Positive Approach." Innovative Teaching
Concepts. 24, October 2004, http://www.todaysteacher.com/ClassroomManagement.htm
Lewis, G. (2004). "Positive Classroom Management Techniques." 22, October 2004, http://www.doncaster.gov.uk/Images/positive%20classroom%20management%20strategies_tcm2-20147.pdf