23 September 2010

Intricately Simple: Behavior Modification

I have been teaching for four weeks now, and have been referred to as the behavior expert several times.  Maybe this is because I am the Life Skills Teacher, or maybe it is because of how I have been able to have relative success with the severe behavior students that I have in my class.  Either way, i think it is a flattering, but presumptuous term for me.  I do not consider myself to be an expert on anything at this point, but I know that I enjoy the challenge that behavior modification presents. 

To oversimplify behavior modification into one sentence, I would say that it is to hold out until you get the behaviors you want from the student.  

There are a varying number of factors that play a role in implementation:
  1. Why is the student engaging in the behaviors?
  2. What causes the behaviors?
  3. How long has the student exhibited these behaviors?
  4. Were these negative behaviors reinforced intentionally or unintentionally in the past?
  5. Where did the student learn these behaviors?
  6. Can the student be redirected, or do they need to be removed when the behaviors arise?
  7. Are the behaviors a result of their OCD, or are they in somewhat control?
  8. And the list goes on.
Behavior modification required one to be fearless in the face of raging students, and patient enough to outlast the tantrum until the student gives in to the expectations that were set in front of them. The biggest detriment to behavior modification is inconsistency on the part of the staff member implementing the program.  You must be willing to wait for EXACTLY the behavior you want, and nothing less.  This is not easy, but it is simple thing to do.  If anyone has watched HITCH, the 90-10 Rule is a great illustration of behavior modification. Hitch is soft and steady in his tone, but rigid in his expectations. 

As I mentioned before, behavior modification is intricate, but simple.  So stick to your guns, hold the line, and never back down!

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