Elementary School Behavior Interventions

Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

Helping elementary school students learn how to behave appropriately in school can be challenging, but it is important. This lesson offers some ideas for behavior interventions that can be really useful in an elementary school setting.

Behavior in Elementary School

Maggie has been teaching third grade for the past two years, and she considers herself an effective teacher when it comes to academics. What Maggie really struggles with, however, is helping her students behave properly in her classroom. Maggie has classroom rules and routines, and some of her students follow them quite well, but each year she seems to have a few students with behavior that really disrupts the class.

Though Maggie loves her easygoing and loving relationships with her students, she knows she needs to develop a repertoire of interventions, or strategies to use to change children's behavior. Strong interventions at the elementary level focus on teaching students what is expected, giving them strategies for appropriate behavior, and protecting other students from having their time in school disrupted because of behavior problems.

Removal From a Setting

Maggie learned that one good way to handle problem behaviors is actually to remove students from the environment where they are causing a disruption. Removing a student from a setting can be as simple as sending them away from the meeting area if they are talking out of turn or calling out during a lesson. Maggie gives students one warning before she sends them to sit at their table spots, and then she has them return to the group after just a few minutes.

Sometimes, removing a student from a setting feels a bit more dire, such as when a student needs to be physically removed from another student because of aggression. In these cases where behavior has really escalated, Maggie often asks for help from the teacher in the classroom next door, or tries to calm the student down before removing them from a setting. Maggie also knows that it is always her job to make sure the student feels comfortable and welcome returning to the classroom after a short time.

Logical Consequences and Restitution

Maggie also learned about and uses the concept of logical consequences for a misbehavior. These are consequences that are aligned with whatever the misbehavior has been. Logical consequences are different from punishment, because they are not penalties but rather natural occurrences that help students understand the effects of their behavior. For instance, a logical consequence for not turning in homework might be spending choice time completing the assignment.

Logical consequences in Maggie's classroom also often involve restitution, or finding a way to fix what has been broken as a result of misbehavior. Sometimes, this is simple; if a student tears a page out of a book, she should tape it back in. Other times, restitution means repairing trust that has been broken between or among people, and this can be a more gradual and thoughtful process.

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