Escape Behavior in the Classroom: Definition, Strategies & Examples

Instructor: Brittany Aga

Brittany has taught high school and college courses and has a master's degree from Clemson University.

This lesson is designed to help you as an educator understand behavioral issues in the classroom. It also provides strategies to use to counter escape behavior as well as examples to demonstrate those strategies.

Behavioral Issues in the Classroom

As educators, we love to fantasize about the perfect day. But a fantasy is just a fantasy. We can have the perfect lesson plan and the best assessments, but without 100% cooperation from our students, it rarely turns out the way we expected. One factor causing disruption is students with behavioral issues. Not all behavioral issues disrupt the classroom, but those that do need to be addressed with the correct strategies. Behavioral issues are repeated outbursts of emotion significant enough to disrupt the class and cause distress for teachers and students.

Acknowledging and Diagnosing the Behavioral Issue

It can be hard to distinguish between typical adolescent behavior and a significant behavioral issue. To determine whether an issue is detrimental enough to your class, situational and environment factors, as well as familial factors, need to be assessed. The day after Halloween and trick-or-treating is a good example of situational behavior. Your class may be acting out due to the amounts of candy they have ingested and potentially staying up late the night before, which can disrupt your teaching. While this is disruptive, it doesn't indicate a behavioral issue. A behavioral issue is any repeated offense that is more disruptive than helpful to the teacher or students.

To accurately diagnose a behavioral issue, educators need to first acknowledge that there is an issue present. From there, we must decide whether or not the issue is significant enough to be diagnosed and adjusted. Therefore, we need to assess the amount of disruption it is causing for educators and students. If the disruption is significant enough that we feel defeated and our students are not getting the ample time and education they need, then it is imperative to address that behavioral issue promptly.

Making The Classroom a Safe Place

As educators, we don't have the option of getting frustrated and throwing in the towel any time a behavioral issue arises. Classrooms need to be safe places for students to express emotions in a healthy manner. In order to allow healthy expression of emotions, you should first ensure that clear boundaries are set to define healthy and unhealthy (appropriate and inappropriate) behaviors. For example, acknowledging both good and challenging behaviors in a consistent manner can help define what is allowed and what is prohibited. Explaining why a behavior is deemed good or deemed inappropriate can help students develop a clearer understanding of appropriate behaviors. This establishes guidelines (as well as a safe place) for your students to exhibit emotions and feel safe doing so.

Strategies to Reduce Behavioral Issue Disruption

Behavioral issues won't disappear overnight or in their entirety. They must be approached with care and empathy. Once you've established boundaries, it's important to understand what triggers the specific inappropriate behavior. To understand the particular triggers for certain behaviors, it is important to pay attention to the events surrounding behaviors. The ABC Method is an effective tool for managing challenging behavior. This method uses the Antecedent-Behavior-Consequence information to diagnose and manage behavioral issues. The antecedent portion of this method is the situation that occurs before the behavior becomes challenging. The behavior portion is the actual behavior demonstrated by the student. And the consequence portion is what actually happens following your response to the behavior. Below is an example of the components of the ABC method.

The ABC Method

The ABC Method allows you to target what causes the behavior and measure which consequences are effective in reducing the challenging behavior. It's easier to analyze what happened prior to the behavioral issue when this method is in place. When a challenging behavior occurs, step back and think about what happened immediately before the issue and track it on the chart. From there, determine the consequence. After a few rounds of this, you will understand what triggers the behaviors as well as which consequences provide the best reinforcement for better behavior. This method allows you to keep accurate records of recurring behavioral issues and record how you, as an educator, handled the situation. This also helps you stay organized and focused on the task at hand, rather than letting the behavioral issue affect your classroom in its entirety.

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