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Breaking the Attention-Seeking Habit: The Power of Random Positive Teacher Attention
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Some students misbehave because they are trying to attract teacher attention. Surprisingly, many students who value adult attention don't really care if it is positive (praise) or negative attention (reprimands)--they just want attention!
Unfortunately, instructors with students who thrive on teacher attention can easily fall into a 'reprimand trap.' The scenario might unfold much like this: First, the student misbehaves. Then the teacher approaches the student and reprimands him or her for misbehaving. Because the student finds the negative teacher attention to be reinforcing, he or she continues to misbehave-and the teacher naturally responds by reprimanding the student more often! An escalating, predictable cycle is established, with the student repeatedly acting-out and teacher reprimanding him or her.
Teachers can break out of this cycle, though, by using 'random positive attention' with students. Essentially, the instructor starts to ignore student attention-seeking behaviors, while at the same time 'randomly' giving the student positive attention. That is, the student receives regular positive teacher attention but at times unconnected to misbehavior. So the student still gets the adult attention that he or she craves. More importantly, the link between student misbehavior and resulting negative teacher attention is broken.

Material Type:
Teaching/Learning Strategy
Provider:
Intervention Central
Author:
Jim Wright
Build a Student Motivation Trap to Increase Academic Engagement
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Motivating a reluctant student to complete schoolwork is not easy. In a typical classroom, students can choose from a number of sources of potential reinforcement (Billington & DiTommaso, 2003)--and academic tasks often take a back seat to competing behaviors such as talking with peers. One way that teachers can increase the attractiveness of schoolwork is by structuring lessons or assignments around topics or activities of high interest to the student (Miller et al., 2003).In fact, with planning, the teacher can set up a 'trap' that uses motivating elements to capture a student's attention to complete academic tasks (Alber & Heward, 1996). Here is a 6-step blue-print for building an academic 'motivation trap' (adapted from Alber & Heward, 1996).

Material Type:
Teaching/Learning Strategy
Provider:
Intervention Central
Author:
Jim Wright
Calming the Agitated Student
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Students can sometimes have emotional outbursts in school settings. This fact will not surprise many teachers, who have had repeated experience in responding to serious classroom episodes of student agitation. Such outbursts can be attributed in part to the relatively high incidence of mental health issues among children and youth. It is estimated, for example, that at least one in five students in American schools will experience a mental health disorder by adolescence (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1999). But even students not identified as having behavioral or emotional disorders may occasionally have episodes of agitation triggered by situational factors such as peer bullying, frustration over poor academic performance, stressful family relationships, or perceived mistreatment by educators.

Material Type:
Teaching/Learning Strategy
Provider:
Intervention Central
Author:
Jim Wright
Dodging the Power-Struggle Trap: Ideas for Teachers
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he teacher's most important objective when faced with a defiant or non-compliant student is to remain outwardly calm. Educators who react to defiant behavior by becoming visibly angry, raising their voices, or attempting to intimidate the student may actually succeed only in making the student's oppositional behavior worse! While the strategies listed here may calm an oppositional student, their main purpose is to help the teacher to keep his or her cool. Remember: any conflict requires at least two people. A power struggle can be avoided if the instructor does not choose to take part in that struggle.

Material Type:
Teaching/Learning Strategy
Provider:
Intervention Central
Author:
Jim Wright
Effective Teacher Commands
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As classroom managers, teachers regularly use commands to direct students to start and stop activities. Instructors find commands to be a crucial tool for classroom management, serving as instructional signals that help students to conform to the teacher's expectations for appropriate behaviors.

Subject:
Education
Material Type:
Teaching/Learning Strategy
Provider:
Intervention Central
Author:
Jim Wright
Encouraging Student Academic Motivation
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One of the greatest frustrations mentioned by many teachers is that their students are often not motivated to learn. Teachers quickly come to recognize the warning signs of poor motivation in their classroom: students put little effort into homework and classwork assignments, slump in their seats and fail to participate in class discussion, or even become confrontational toward the teacher when asked about an overdue assignment. One common method for building motivation is to tie student academic performance and classroom participation to specific rewards or privileges. Critics of reward systems note, however, that they can be expensive and cumbersome to administer and may lead the student to engage in academics only when there is an outside 'payoff.' While there is no magic formula for motivating students, the creative teacher can sometimes encourage student investment in learning in ways that do not require use of formal reward systems.

Material Type:
Teaching/Learning Strategy
Provider:
Intervention Central
Author:
Jim Wright
Finding the Spark: More Tips for Building Student Motivation
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Teachers can feel overwhelmed when faced with students who are unmotivated to learn. The task becomes less daunting, though, when teachers realize that they can boost student motivation in five important ways: by (1) making positive changes to the learning environment, (2) fostering a sense of community in the classroom, (3) enhancing the interest of classroom activities, (4) responding to individual learning challenges, and (5) building in additional outcomes/pay-offs for learning. Here are some ideas:

Material Type:
Teaching/Learning Strategy
Provider:
Intervention Central
Author:
Jim Wright
Good Behavior Game
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The Good Behavior Game is an approach to the management of classrooms behaviors that rewards children for displaying appropriate on-task behaviors during instructional times. The class is divided into two teams and a point is given to a team for any inappropriate behavior displayed by one of its members. The team with the fewest number of points at the Game's conclusion each day wins a group reward. If both teams keep their points below a preset level, then both teams share in the reward. The program was first tested in 1969; several research articles have confirmed that the Game is an effective means of increasing the rate of on-task behaviors while reducing disruptions in the classroom (Barrish, Saunders, & Wolf, 1969; Harris & Sherman, 1973; Medland & Stachnik, 1972).
The process of introducing the Good Behavior Game into a classroom is a relatively simple procedure. There are five steps involved in putting the Game into practice.

Material Type:
Teaching/Learning Strategy
Provider:
Intervention Central
Author:
Jim Wright
Homework Contracts: Tapping the Power of Parents
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Students who regularly complete and turn in homework assignments perform significantly better in school than those of similar ability who do not do homework (Olympia et al., 1994). Homework is valuable because it gives students a chance to practice, extend, and entrench the academic skills taught in school. Parents can be instrumental in encouraging and motivating their children to complete homework. This homework contract intervention (adapted from Miller & Kelly, 1994) uses goal-setting, a written contract, and rewards to boost student completion (and accuracy) of homework. Students also learn the valuable skills of breaking down academic assignments into smaller, more manageable subtasks and setting priorities for work completion.

Material Type:
Teaching/Learning Strategy
Provider:
Intervention Central
Author:
Jim Wright
Identify the Big Ideas to Guide Behavior Management
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Teachers skilled in classroom management are able to respond appropriately to just about any behavior that a student brings through the classroom door. While having a toolkit of specific behavioral strategies is important, the real secret of educators who maintain smoothly running classrooms with minimal behavioral disruptions is that they are able to view problem student behaviors through the lens of these seven 'big ideas' in behavior management.

Material Type:
Teaching/Learning Strategy
Provider:
Intervention Central
Author:
Jim Wright
Kids as Reading Helpers: A Peer Tutor Training Manual
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While the long-term negative impact of poor readers can be enormous, the good news is that schools can train their own students to deliver effective tutoring in reading to younger peers. Kids as Reading Helpers: A Peer Tutor Training Manual is a complete package for training peer reading tutors. Peer tutoring answers the nagging problem of delivering effective reading support to the many struggling young readers in our schools. Furthermore, peer tutoring programs can improve the reading skills of tutors as well as tutees (Ehly, 1986) and - in some studies-have been shown to build tutor's social skills as well (Garcia-Vazquez & Ehly, 1995). Young children tend to find the opportunity to read aloud to an older peer tutor to be quite reinforcing, adding a motivational component to this intervention.

Subject:
Arts and Humanities
Material Type:
Teaching/Learning Strategy
Provider:
Intervention Central
Author:
Jim Wright
Motivating Students Via High-Probability Requests
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High-probability requests are one feasible classroom technique that can be effective in motivating students to engage in assigned classwork (Lee, 2006). The teacher first identifies an academic activity in which the student historically shows a low probability of completing because of non-compliance. The teacher then embeds within that low-probability activity an introductory series of simple, brief 'high-probability' requests or tasks that this same student has an established track record of completing (Belfiore, Basile, & Lee, 2008).

Material Type:
Teaching/Learning Strategy
Provider:
Intervention Central
Author:
Jim Wright
Motivation Challenge 1: The Student Cannot Do the Work
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Profile of a Student with This Motivation Problem: The student lacks essential skills required to do the task. Areas of deficit might include basic academic skills, cognitive strategies, and academic-enabler skills. Here are teacher behaviors to help fix this motivation problem.

Material Type:
Teaching/Learning Strategy
Provider:
Intervention Central
Author:
Jim Wright
Motivation Challenge 2: The Response Effort to Do the Work Seems Too Great
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Although the student has the required skills to complete the assigned work, he or she perceives the ‘effort’ needed to do so to be so great that the student loses motivation. Learn teacher behaviors to fix this motivation problem.

Material Type:
Teaching/Learning Strategy
Provider:
Intervention Central
Author:
Jim Wright
Motivation Challenge 3: Classroom Instruction Does Not Engage
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The student is distracted or off-task because classroom instruction and learning activities are not sufficiently reinforcing to hold his or her attention. Learn teacher behaviors to help fix this motivation problem.

Material Type:
Teaching/Learning Strategy
Provider:
Intervention Central
Author:
Jim Wright
Motivation Challenge 4: Student Does Not See an Adequate Payoff for Doing the Work
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The student requires praise, access to rewards, or other reinforcers in the short term as a temporary ‘pay-off’ to encourage her or him to apply greater effort. Learn teacher behaviors to help fix this student motivation problem.

Material Type:
Teaching/Learning Strategy
Provider:
Intervention Central
Author:
Jim Wright
Motivation Challenge 5: Student Lacks Confidence that He or She Can Do the Work
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The student has a low sense of self-efficacy in a subject area, activity, or academic task and that lack of confidence reduces the student’s motivation to apply his or her best effort. NOTE: Self-efficacy is the student’s view of his or her own abilities specific to a particular academic area (e.g., mathematics) and should not be confused with self-esteem, which represents the student’s global view of his or her self-worth. Learn teacher behavior to help fix this student motivation problem.

Material Type:
Teaching/Learning Strategy
Provider:
Intervention Central
Author:
Jim Wright
Motivation Challenge 6: Student Lacks a Positive Relationship with the Teacher
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The student appears indifferent or even hostile toward the instructor and thus may lack motivation to follow teacher requests or to produce work. Learn teacher behaviors to help with this student motivation problem.

Material Type:
Teaching/Learning Strategy
Provider:
Intervention Central
Author:
Jim Wright
Points for Grumpy
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This response-cost strategy is appropriate for younger students who are verbally defiant and non-compliant with the teacher. (See the related Hints for Using... column for tips on how to tailor this intervention idea for older students.)

Material Type:
Teaching/Learning Strategy
Provider:
Intervention Central
Author:
Jim Wright
Positive Peer Reports: Changing Negative Behaviors By Rewarding Student Compliments
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Some students thrive on peer attention-and will do whatever they have to in order to get it. These students may even attempt intentionally to irritate their classmates in an attempt to be noticed. When students bother others to get attention, though, they often find themselves socially isolated and without friends. In addition, teachers may discover that they must surrender valuable instructional time to mediate conflicts that were triggered by students seeking negative peer attention.
Positive Peer Reporting is a clever classwide intervention strategy that was designed to address the socially rejected child who disrupts the class by seeking negative attention. Classmates earn points toward rewards for praising the problem student. The intervention appears to work because it gives the rejected student an incentive to act appropriately for positive attention and also encourages other students to note the target student's good behaviors rather than simply focusing on negative actions. Another useful side effect of positive peer reporting is that it gives all children in the classroom a chance to praise others-a useful skill for them to master! The Positive Peer Reporting strategy presented here is adapted from Ervin, Miller, & Friman (1996).

Material Type:
Teaching/Learning Strategy
Provider:
Intervention Central
Author:
Jim Wright
RTI: How to Manage Behavior Problems - Check-In/Check-Out
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Students can be motivated to improve classroom behaviors if they have both a clear roadmap of the teacher's behavioral expectations and incentives to work toward those behavioral goals. This modified version of Check-In/Check-Out (CI/CO) is a simple behavioral intervention package designed for use during a single 30- to 90-minute classroom period (Dart, Cook, Collins, Gresham & Chenier, 2012). The teacher checks in with the student to set behavioral goals at the start of the period, then checks out with the student at the close of the period to rate that student's conduct and award points or other incentives earned for attaining behavioral goal(s).

Material Type:
Teaching/Learning Strategy
Provider:
Intervention Central
Author:
Jim Wright
RTI: Improve Classroom Management Through Flexible Rules - The Color Wheel
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The Color Wheel is one solution that enforces uniform group expectations for conduct while also responding flexibly to the differing behavioral demands of diverse learning activities. This classwide intervention divides all activities into 3 categories and links each category to a color: green for free time/ low-structure activities; yellow for large- or small-group instruction/independent work; and red for brief transitions between activities. The student learns a short list of behavioral rules for each category and, when given a color cue, can switch quickly from one set of rules to another.

Subject:
Education
Material Type:
Teaching/Learning Strategy
Provider:
Intervention Central
Author:
Jim Wright
Response Effort
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As a behavior-management tool, response effort seems like simple common sense: We engage less in behaviors that we find hard to accomplish. Teachers often forget, however, that response effort can be a useful part of a larger intervention plan. To put it simply, teachers can boost the chances that a student will take part in desired behaviors (e.g., completing homework or interacting appropriately with peers) by making these behaviors easy and convenient to take part in. However, if teachers want to reduce the frequency of a behavior (e.g., a child's running from the classroom), they can accomplish this by making the behavior more difficult to achieve (e.g., seating the child at the rear of the room, far from the classroom door).

Material Type:
Teaching/Learning Strategy
Provider:
Intervention Central
Author:
Jim Wright
Rubber-Band Intervention
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Teachers often find it difficult to monitor the frequency of problem student behaviors. In this clever behavior-management strategy, the teacher uses keeps track of student behaviors using rubber-bands placed around the wrist.

Material Type:
Teaching/Learning Strategy
Provider:
Intervention Central
Author:
Jim Wright
School-Wide Strategies for Managing Defiance / Non-Compliance
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Students who are defiant or non-compliant can be among the most challenging to teach. They can frequently interrupt instruction, often do poorly academically, and may show little motivation to learn. There are no magic strategies for managing the behaviors of defiant students. However, research shows that certain techniques tend to work best with these children and youth: (1) Give the student positive teacher recognition. Even actions as simple as greeting the student daily at the classroom door or stopping by the student’s desk to ask ‘How are you doing?’ can over time turn strained relationships into positive ones. (2) Monitor the classroom frequently and intervene proactively to redirect off-task students before their mild misbehaviors escalate into more serious problems. (3) Avoid saying or doing things that are likely to anger or set off a student. Speak calmly and respectfully, for example, rather than raising your voice or using sarcasm. (4) When you must intervene with a misbehaving student, convey the message to the student that you will not tolerate the problem behavior—but that you continue to value and accept the student. (5) Remember that the ultimate goal of any disciplinary measure is to teach the student more positive ways of behaving. Punishment generally does not improve student behaviors over the long term and can have significant and lasting negative effects on school performance and motivation. (6) Develop a classroom ‘crisis response plan’ to be implemented in the event that one or more students display aggressive behaviors that threaten their own safety or the safety of others. Be sure that your administrator approves this classroom crisis plan and that everyone who has a part in the plan knows his or her role. One final thought: While you can never predict what behaviors your students might bring into your classroom, you will usually achieve the best outcomes by remaining calm, following pre-planned intervention strategies for misbehavior, and acting with consistency and fairness when intervening with or disciplining students.

Material Type:
Teaching/Learning Strategy
Provider:
Intervention Central
Author:
Jim Wright
School-Wide Strategies for Managing Hyperactivity
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Hyperactive students tend to have a very high energy level, act impulsively and can be behaviorally distracting. They may fidget, play with objects, tap pencils so loudly against their desk that kids from across the room look over at them, or blurt out answers to teacher questions before the instructor is even finished asking them. When working with students who are hyperactive or impulsive, teachers should keep in mind that these students are very often completely unaware that others view their behavior as distracting or annoying. Teachers working with such children can greatly increase their own effectiveness by clearly communicating behavioral expectations to students, by encouraging and rewarding students who behave appropriately, and by being consistent and fair when responding to problem student behaviors. Here are teacher ideas for managing impulsive or hyperactive students who display problem motor or verbal behaviors:

Material Type:
Teaching/Learning Strategy
Provider:
Intervention Central
Author:
Jim Wright
School-Wide Strategies for Managing Off-Task / Inattention
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tudents who have chronic difficulties paying attention in class face the risk of poor grades and even school failure. Inattention may be a symptom of an underlying condition such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. However, teachers should not overlook other possible explanations for student off-task behavior. It may be, for example, that a student who does not seem to be paying attention is actually mismatched to instruction (the work is too hard or too easy) or preoccupied by anxious thoughts. Or the student may be off-task because the teacher's lesson was poorly planned or presented in a disorganized manner. It is also important to remember that even children with ADHD are influenced by factors in their classroom setting and that these students' level of attention is at least partly determined by the learning environment. Teachers who focus on making their instruction orderly, predictable, and highly motivating find that they can generally hold the attention of most of their students most of the time.

Material Type:
Teaching/Learning Strategy
Provider:
Intervention Central
Author:
Jim Wright
Teacher Praise: An Efficient Tool to Motivate Students
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Teacher praise is one tool that can be a powerful motivator for students. Surprisingly, research suggests that praise is underused in both general- and special-education classrooms (Brophy, 1981; Hawkins & Heflin, 2011; Kern, 2007). This guide offers recommendations to instructors for using praise to maximize its positive impact.Effective teacher praise consists of two elements: (1) a description of noteworthy student academic performance or general behavior, and (2) a signal of teacher approval (Brophy, 1981; Burnett, 2001).

Material Type:
Teaching/Learning Strategy
Provider:
Intervention Central
Author:
Jim Wright
Teaching Children With Developmental Disabilities
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When working with children with developmental disabilities, teachers can accomplish a great deal by managing the learning environment proactively to prevent behavior problems and promote learning. But identified students may also experience behavior or learning problems because they lack key skills (e.g., capacity to interact with other children in socially appropriate ways). Children with developmental disabilities should therefore have explicit skills-training in deficit areas as a central component in their curriculum.

Subject:
Special Education
Material Type:
Teaching/Learning Strategy
Provider:
Intervention Central
Author:
Jim Wright