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5 Tips & Tools to Manage Behaviors

I have seen some AMAZING Speech-Language Pathologists and Practicum Students lose their lesson due to behavior management concerns.  A wonderfully planned lesson can blow up in your face and time can escape you when students are not motivated or negative behaviors are not managed efficiently.  I learned early on that students are masterminds at working the system and wasting time if it means getting out of work that they are not motivated to do (aren’t we all).  Prior to becoming a Speech-Language Pathologist, I was a Special Education Teacher.  One of the populations I worked with for multiple years was Behaviorally-Emotionally Disabled.  The years I spent working with my students in these self-contained classrooms were eye openers and great learning experiences on behavior management! Here are a few of the Tips and Tools I utilize or that colleagues use in their therapy room.            STICKER CHARTS- Most of us are first introduced to behavior management using sticker charts.  It is fast and easy.  You can get bundles of them in any store and you can also find them online.  Just need to print and put the sticker down.  Some people do the double sticker thing.  One sticker for behavior during the lesson and one for homework.  When I use the sticker charts in my room, I do one sticker but it is for both (behavior and homework completion).  However, my students have had “The Rules” talk so many times they know what is expected of them like the back of their hand.  If you are first starting out, you may want to give them that little extra incentive.  Many people put them all over their speech room walls too since it is convenient and the students are less likely to lose them.  In the past, I have placed them on the wall (but I personally can’t stand clutter and I have other uses for that space), in a special file for the students to locate theirs, and currently I have them putting them in their speech homework notebooks. Responsibility is an important lesson in my room. 
      BOARD GAME BEHAVIOR MANAGEMENT-  Last year, I found the cutest board game (SpeechSlides and Language Ladders) for my bulletin board in my speech room.  Better yet, this board game created by Danielle from Sublime Speech, was a wonderful tool to manage behavior during the session and homework completion!  I didn’t take pictures of my students for confidentiality purposes.  However, each student chose a sticker and we put their name on it.  I kept the backing paper on the stickers and just used double sided tape to adhere their sticker to the correct place.  I used a HUGE die from the dollar store for them to roll.  If they followed all the rules during speech, they had the opportunity to roll the die once.  They had additional opportunities to roll for extra moves on the game board if they completed their homework or did something fabulous by going above and beyond to show positive leadership skills (being a good friend, helping a peer, showing integrity, etc..).  The kids loved it!  Thanks Danielle of Sublime Speech!  I believe she may have another free board game for reinforcing behaviors in her store too! Go here for her Speech Slides and Language Ladders board game. 
      PUNCH CARDS- When punch cards first started making their presence known in speech rooms, I jumped on them!  I found them very convenient!  Just print and punch! Unfortunately, I found my little ones were not ready for punch cards and they often lost them and the hole in the card was not nearly as motivating as a sticker on a chart.  For my older kids, I have found that they would rather have a punch card in their speech notebook or in their wallet.  So I tend to let them choose which they would prefer.      
    TOKEN CHARTS-  I started using these with my students with autism because I found that it was easier for many of them to understand.  Plus, it seemed more tangible and immediately gratifying.  That is why I began using them with my students that had to work on a lot more behaviors than the average kiddo.  For example, my students that do not get the “listen to your peers” or “do not call out or interrupt others” rule.  I will pull out my token board and reinforce their positive behaviors as I give them a token to put on the chart.  “You did a great job listening to Johnny.”  By the end of the lesson, if they managed to get all 3-5 tokens on their board, then they get an additional sticker on their sticker chart or for whatever else they may have been working towards.

      IMMEDIATE REINFORCERS-  One of my colleagues is known to bust out the candy.  After each lesson, if her students followed the rules, she will give them each 1 skittle or other piece of candy.  I’m not big on giving candy as I’m always paranoid about allergies and/or those kiddos that a little sugar goes a LONG way.  I have given out small little reinforcers that I can get in bulk from the dollar store or the dollar aisle of target such as stickers, pencils, erasers, etc… I also tend to use the last 2 minutes of a lesson to play a game (board or on tablet) if I have not already incorporated a game into the lesson.  

      Some students need the instant gratification and that is fine.  The trick is slowly moving from instant gratification using extrinsic motivation to instant gratification on an intrinsic level. I try to do so by always highlighting what they did that was so wonderful and then asking them how they feel about it or making a comment such as, “You must be very proud of yourself.  You did an amazing job following the rules and practicing your speech sounds!  You are such a super star!” Use a lot of “you” language instead of “I” language.  It is very easy for us to use “I” language (“I’m so proud of you!”) but by doing so we are teaching our students to seek approval elsewhere instead of seeking approval from within.
You can get free behavior management tools using a Super hero theme in my store.  What do you use or do to manage behaviors and teach your students the value of intrinsic motivation?   

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