Common Mistakes

In an effort to maintain order in the classroom, sometimes teachers can actually make the problems worse. Therefore, it is important to consider some of the basic mistakes commonly made when implementing classroom behavior management strategies. For example, a common mistake made by teachers is to define the problem behavior by how it looks without considering its function.

Interventions are more likely to be effective when they are individualized to address the specific function of the problem behavior. Two students with similar looking misbehavior may require entirely different intervention strategies if the behaviors are serving different functions. Teachers need to understand that they need to be able to change the ways they do things from year to year, as the children change. Not every approach works for every child. Teachers need to learn to be flexible. Another common mistake is for the teacher to become increasingly frustrated and negative when an approach is not working.

The teacher may raise his or her voice or increase adverse consequences in an effort to make the approach work. This type of interaction may impair the teacher-student relationship. Instead of allowing this to happen, it is often better to simply try a new approach.

Inconsistency in expectations and consequences is an additional mistake that can lead to dysfunction in the classroom. Teachers must be consistent in their expectations and consequences to help ensure that students understand that rules will be enforced. To avoid this, teachers should communicate expectations to students clearly and be sufficiently committed to the classroom management procedures to enforce them consistently.

"Ignoring and approving" is an effective classroom management strategy. This involves ignoring students when they behave undesirably and approving their behavior when it is desirable. When students are praised for their good behavior but ignored for their bad behavior, this may increase the frequency of good behavior and decrease bad behavior. Student behavior may be maintained by attention; if students have a history of getting attention after misbehavior, they may continue this behavior as long as it continues to get attention. If student misbehavior is ignored, but good behavior results in attention, students may instead behave appropriately to acquire attention.

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