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Managing Behavior

As the students and I are setting up our expectations, goals, and rules, I will make
sure I clearly lay out the consequences of misbehavior and not meeting our standards.
We have made a contract with each other that we will follow, and I will open up a short
discussion on what happens when you break our contract. At the start of the school year,
I must adhere to the plan exactly as we laid it out, so students know that the contract is
important and must be followed. The students will learn that I will follow through with
the planned consequences. Throughout the school year, we will review the expectations
and the consequences of breaking the contract. There is a group contingency in place
throughout the year as a reward system, which will motivate the students to display
proper behavior and participation.
I anticipate that the misbehavior will be at its highest during the beginning of the
school year as students are learning their new routines, during final concert preparations
when students become excited and anxious, and during the days before an extended
break. During these times, I will put in extra effort to reinforce the expectations and
appropriate behavior. I can also add an extra reward to the group contingency to increase
the students’ motivation and focus. It is important that I keep a cool and clear mind when
managing behavior and understand that misbehaviors can be used as opportunities to
teach appropriate conduct in class.
The management hierarchy has three levels: (1) reinforcement strategies, (2)
negative punishment, and (3) positive punishment. Reinforcement strategies are the first
step for a teacher to take to manage misbehavior. I can increase my use of reinforcement
by teaching a desirable replacement behavior, praising the student(s) for the behavior,
and offering a short-term reward. In my band classroom, a short-term reward could be an
extra theory game, a student’s choice of a musical exercise/piece, or a short music-related
video. Precorrection is a strategy that can be used when I anticipate that misbehavior will
occur. The goal of precorrection is to address proper behavior before unwanted
behaviors occur. When I greet the students at the door, I can simply remind them to
respectfully enter the room and follow the normal procedure. Before a dress rehearsal or
concert, I can review concert etiquette and practice it during the final rehearsals. I will
actively scan the classroom and offer behavioral narration and praise for correct behavior.
I will try to apply the magic ratio (five praises to one redirect). We will review
expectations and practice appropriate behaviors throughout the school year.
Once I have used a variety of reinforcement strategies, negative punishment is the
next level for behavior management. I can use the extinction method when a student is
continuously talking or playing out of turn and the main goal is for attention. The goal of
extinction is to withhold reinforcement in order to phase out a problematic behavior. By
not answering or responding to the student’s outbursts, the behavior will diminish. I can
add reinforcement when the student displays the appropriate behavior (raising hand,
waiting patiently to play). Another negative punishment is taking away privileges from
the student. The removal should be appropriate and related to the specific behavior. A
solo or featured part could be taken away from the student. The student cannot receive
another feature until he or she can display appropriate behavior over an extended amount
of time. The student could also lose privileges from other classes depending on his or her
behavior throughout the school day.
A third form of negative punishment is a time-out from reinforcement. For
example, the student would not be able to participate in the group contingency activity or,
depending on the severity, lose the activity for the entire class. Peer pressure can be an
effective reinforcement for proper behavior, especially for middle school and high school
students. The student could sit in the ‘cool down’ chair for part of class and could play
the rehearsed sections during a lesson time. Depending on the severity of the behavior, I
will have the student fill out a debrief form which includes questions that reflect on the
student’s behavior, reasons for the behavior, ideas for replacement behavior, and what
steps should be taken next.
Positive punishment is the third level on the behavior hierarchy and should only
be used as a last resort. Writing an apology letter is an effective use of positive
punishment. I will set up the parameters for the letter and whom the letter(s) should be
addressed to. I will check the student’s letter(s) before he or she reads the letter(s) to the
individual(s) or class. The student is responsible for reading the letter aloud to the
receiver(s). The apology will include what happened, why the behavior was
unacceptable, and what steps will be taken to improve the behavior. Overcorrection is
another form of positive punishment in which the student performs an appropriate
behavior to a higher degree that normally warranted by the misbehavior. If a student has
an outburst and damages the music, I may apply overcorrection and have the student
organize turned in music or hand out music to the appropriate folders. If a student causes
a scene while putting instruments together, I may meet with the student at another time
and have the student repeatedly enter the classroom and follow the appropriate procedure
multiple times. If overcorrection is used, I will continuously monitor the student and
offer feedback. If necessary, I can set up an individual behavior plan and track the
student’s behavioral progress. I can communicate with the administration, other faculty
members, and the student’s family in order to ensure the behavioral plan is appropriate
and effective.