A Psycho-Educational Model for Managing Disruptive Classroom Behavior: The Solution-Focused Approach

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The solution-focused model shows teachers how approaching disruptive classroom behavior differently can improve both students’ behaviors and the overall classroom atmosphere. This psycho-educational model looks at the habitually disruptive student’s competencies or strengths for solutions, avoiding focusing on the child’s behavior deficits, and letting the child’s competencies guide the teacher in finding solutions. According to Metcalf (1999), when teachers focus on children’s strengths, we change the context from failure (problem- focused) to hopefulness (solution-focused). The main solution-focused technique is to observe the times when the habitually disruptive child exhibited competency of some sort; that is, identifying when in the past the child responded effectively in the classroom, and then to relay those times to the child in a caring and curious way. Simply put, we look forward for what is working with this particular child, and we make the child aware of it. In the solution-focused model, we call this technique exceptions, or the

1. the teacher gives the child key information that makes the student aware of his earlier successes. What is that the child did at the time that makes a difference? 2. says Metcalf. stay on task or remain calm)? 2.g. “I wonder if that would help now. When teachers examine those exceptions. we identify those occasions in which she was tantrum free. we can identify the strategies we used that worked occasionally. noticing those exceptions gives the teacher clues to use as they (exceptions) help teachers develop a different context that is more successful for the child.times when the child is not engaged in negative behavior and the problem is not happening. “How can I react differently so that my relationship with this child runs smoothly?” Metcalf recommends that the teacher writes down what he or she tried with the child. “What can I do differently with this child just for today?” In addition. we look for those times when the child completed tasks successfully.” all this delivered to the student in an atmosphere of exploration and discovery. for a child who exhibits recurrent tantrum episodes. going into detail about what worked.. the clues are in the child’s successes. What is that the teacher did that makes a difference? The solution-oriented teacher focuses on what is obvious: that the habitually disruptive and acting-out student had succeeded before. According to Metcalf. What did we do in class that helped you _____? Commenting. To change negative and habitually disruptive classroom behavior then. the teacher asks the child questions like. To find solutions. Exceptions allow teachers to answer questions such as. What did you do then that helped you _____ (e. for a student who has difficulty staying on task. . and erasing the strategies that we used before that did not work. The solution-focused model answers mainly two questions: 1. Metcalf (1999) lists a set of guiding principles for implementing a solution-focused model with students that exhibit habitually disruptive classroom behaviors. Through this kind of questioning. For example.

when a lesson plan works. Always focus on the possible and changeable when dealing with habitually disruptive and non-compliant students. L. Notice what you are doing that is helping the exceptions happen. 7. non-compliant. non-compliant and acting-out children as students who are “stuck” in a problem but are not the problem. Always watch for exceptions to behavior difficulties. This will make it easier for the child to “escape” from the problem. We can apply the same principle in managing disruptive behaviors. Talk about disruptive. When the student exhibits recurrent disruptive behavior in the classroom. not a big one. 6. (1999). 5. and what the child thinks you can do differently. 8. Teaching toward solutions. stop repeating a strategy or technique that is not working. Do not worry about trying to figure out why a child is having a behavior problem. Teachers know that. Describe the child’s difficulties in a more positive way to make the student’s behavior problems solvable. . ask the child what she wants to be different in the classroom. do something different. in other words. Change the description of the behavior problem so that you can design new strategies based on this new. ask the child what she thinks she can do differently. See habitually disruptive. 3. and acting-out children with a no pathological approach. we do not use it again. 4. In addition.1. 2. West Nyack. Think of making a slight change. Go slowly to build successes. Reference: Metcalf. NY: Center for Applied Research. but when a lesson plan does not work. also notice what the child is doing to make exceptions happen. no-pathological and solution-oriented definition. we do it again.

has more than twenty years of experience as a self-contained special education teacher. Carmen is an expert in the application of behavior management strategies and in teaching students with learning or behavior problems. To download free the eGuide. Brooklyn: NY). Carmen is the author of 60+ books and articles in child guidance and in alternative teaching techniques for low-achieving students. and educational diagnostician. Her classroom background. The Psycho-Educational Teacher. resource room teacher. Reyes. in New York City and her native Puerto Rico. visit Carmen’s blog. Carmen has a bachelor’s degree in psychology (University of Puerto Rico) and a master’s degree in special education with a specialization in emotional disorders (Long island University. The Psycho-Educational Teacher. You can read the complete collection of articles on Scribd or her blog. includes ten years teaching emotionally disturbed/behaviorally disordered children and four years teaching students with a learning disability or mental retardation. Carmen has taught at all grade levels. from kindergarten to post secondary. She also has extensive graduate training in psychology (30+ credits). .About the Author Carmen Y. Persuasive Discipline: Using Power Messages and Suggestions to Influence Children Toward Positive Behavior.

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