Managing Habitually Disruptive Students: A Psycho-Educational Approach

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In today’s schools, habitually disruptive students are placed almost in every classroom, and the behavioral and emotional issues that students bring to school seem to come in all shades and colors –acting out behaviors, attention deficits, hyperactivity, aggressive behaviors, noncompliance, defiance, and low motivation to name just the most common. For the teacher or staff member dealing with a student with recurrent behavior problems, the theories and methods learned from textbooks rarely give any assistance or help in how to interact with the child to extinguish recurrent disruptive episodes. When we have to deal with a disruptive student, a psycho-educational or therapeutic approach has more to offer to both the teacher and the student than any other form of intervention can offer. Teachers need to know that they have multiple options to deal with classroom disruptive behaviors, and the more psycho-educational theories we understand and apply, the broader our understanding of our role in escalating or defusing disruptive events, the less helpless we feel, and the bigger our chances of succeeding in managing classroom disruptive behaviors. In the school setting, psycho-education, or psychological theory applied to the classroom, is a method of teaching teachers and students about children’s behavioral and emotional difficulties.

Ultimately. and C. any behavior management intervention attempted must respond to the exceedingly complex and multifaceted dimension of the habitually disruptive student. “I did not realize I demand to be the leader every time we work in cooperative groups”). understanding. A teacher with psycho-educational skills is able to help students identify. the student must act upon and take personal responsibility for her own behavior. and well-trained adult improves the student’s social behavior. 2000) . helping the child develop socio-emotional skills to cope with stressful events. A psycho-educational approach acknowledges the fact that. so that long-term behavioral change can take place. The psycho-educational teacher shows concern for both the student’s feelings and observable behavior. and does not give unsolicited advice or dictates what the student must do. and on their behaviors.g. to be effective and therapeutic. Owning denied parts of self (e. and solve problems in socially acceptable ways (social problem solving).g. the psycho-educational teacher reflects on what the student says and does. “When I cursed Mr. Using what is offered from both psychology and education. recognizing the powerful role of emotions in students’ ability to learn. debate. Using child guidance techniques like benign confrontation (pointing out the discrepancies between the student’s goals and the student’s behaviors) and processing (discussion of the child’s feelings) (Meier and Davis. In psycho-education. and replace irrational and self-defeating beliefs and thoughts that maintain troubling feelings and negative behaviors. therapeutic change happens when the habitually disruptive student understands the role of her emotions in her school difficulties. Evans I was really mad at Justin”) B. Becoming aware of deep feelings (e.g. 1997). the teacher helps the child develop insight in A. Psycho-education then is therapeutic and insight oriented. but rather tries to bring up the student to a deeper level of understanding of both her feelings and the behaviors that those feelings trigger. “Sometimes I can be bossy”) (Kottler and Kottler.Psycho-education aims at training teachers in helping emotionally troubled and/or behaviorally disordered students gain emotional and behavioral self-control. psycho-education recognizes that a therapeutic relationship with a caring. Learning to be vigilant about specific behaviors (e. make better behavioral choices (decision-making skills).

and juvenile justice systems. resource room teacher. from kindergarten to post secondary. psycho-education is used in school settings like inclusive classes (team teaching). J. self-management of behavior. Reyes. S. and relationships. Third Edition. Thousand Oaks. A comprehensive psycho-educational approach includes coping skills. A. CA: Corwin Press. E. in New York City and her native Puerto Rico. self-contained classes for behaviorally disordered students. and counseling. Her classroom background. The elements of counseling. the student is the expert in knowledge of self and her behavior. social work. The Psycho-Educational Teacher. The therapeutic teacher knows how to use the student’s “expertise” to enhance the child’s ability to make better decisions and to cope effectively with troublesome events. refined. to achieve positive classroom behavior and improved relationships. Counseling skills for teachers. & Davis.. T. About the Author Carmen Y. (1997). or negative and self-defeating thoughts and beliefs. and educational diagnostician. and behavioral aspects..The therapeutic teacher does not blame the child for her feelings or behavior. incorporating perspectives and child guidance techniques from sister disciplines like psychology. and/or reinforced. S. residential settings. Carmen has taught at all grade levels. choice making. Pacific Grove. so that the child becomes the main contributor on her own improvement. and in teaching students with learning or behavior problems. special schools for the emotionally disturbed. CA: Brooks/Cole. includes ten years teaching emotionally disturbed/behaviorally . The coping strategies taught or strengthened include cognitive (thoughts). R. Although the teacher is the expert in the area of content. basic thinking skills. Carmen is an expert in the application of behavior management strategies. & Kottler. Meier. Currently accepted as a major conceptual model for special education. social problem solving. the focus is on how the student can overcome the obstacles. has more than twenty years of experience as a self-contained special education teacher. anger and impulse control. (2000). The student’s own strengths and current coping resources are analyzed. References: Kottler. affective (feelings).

disordered children and four years teaching students with a learning disability or mental retardation. You can read the complete collection of articles on Scribd or her blog. . She also has extensive graduate training in psychology (30+ credits). 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. Brooklyn: NY). Carmen is the author of 60+ books and articles in psycho-education and in alternative teaching techniques for low-achieving students. The Psycho-Educational Teacher. To preview Carmen’s books. visit her blog.

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