Section 5: Strategies for Dealing with Challenging Students and Situations

This Section contains:

  • Hierarchy of interventions
  • Strategies for building relationships
  • Techniques to break the cycle of discouragement

5.1 Hierarchy of Intervention

Communication is supposed to be effective between a teacher and the students who have participated in setting procedures and have been taught rules. On account of misbehavior therefore, nonverbal gestures such as a hand signal should be able to stop a student from behaving in undesirable way. Nonverbal gesture is thus the first intervention when handling misbehaviors among students. Verbal communication should only be applied if the student being warned through nonverbal signals fails to obey the command. Dhaem (2015) explains that verbal and nonverbal communications are the best strategies to use on students that require lengthy argument before they accept rules.

When setting objectives, routines, and rules for the classroom, it is beneficial for the teacher to bear in mind that a number of students will most likely refuse to comply. This type of mindset enables the teacher to prepare in advance for onset of such situations. The best strategies for disruptive behavior should be easy to adopt, should not interfere with the progress of the lesson, and need not be directly linked with disciplinary consequences. According to Dhaem (2015), four to five reminders are enough indication that the student is not willing to comply with the instruction. As such, the next initiative needs to be taken such as a private verbal warning. If this fails as well, the disciplinary consequences such as denial of privilege, detention, and parental involvement may be considered.

5.2 Strategies for building relationships

The greatest threat to classroom behavior management is creating an effective learning environment within a classroom that frequently encounters disruptions. Since disruptions are undesirable and the classroom must be organized for effective learning (Dhaem, 2012), the teacher must address the root causes of disruptions. When dealing with behavior problems, it is important to identify the root cause of the behavior in order to address the specific student needs.  

There are three major causes of undesirable behavior in students: physical causes like illness, discomfort, or visual and hearing challenges; emotional causes such as redirected aggression; and emotional causes such as culture, size of the classroom, and masterly of norms regarding class behavior. Levin & Nolan (2000) hold the view that four strategies are important in building relationship: 1) understanding the reason for the behavior; 2) Planning strategies for establishing closeness with the student; 3) Gathering behavioral trait details of the student; and 4) Being careful about relations with the student.

5.3 Techniques to break the cycle of discouragement

The cycle of discouragement starts at a very young age for children who are not well looked after. When such children start schooling, the cycle of discouragement impacts their self-esteem so that they lack motivation and they develop the feeling that they are unable to perform better in academics. This automatically lands them into poor grades, further discouragement, or even negative behavior. The teacher may unfortunately respond with harshness and punishment, which may worsen the already low self-esteem. Many children who find themselves is such situations tend to give up schooling (Ellis, Hart, & Small-McGinley, 2001), if the teacher does not help them realize their capabilities on time. This negative cycle can be destroyed if the teacher identifies the strengths of the student and focus on the capabilities while trying to develop strategies for overcoming the weaknesses.

Section 6: Utilizing the Support of Other Educators and Caregivers

  • In this Section:
  • Identifying Needs
  • Documentation
  • Referral Process

6.1 Identifying Needs

The teacher has the responsibility of dealing with students directly and applying the predetermined interventions to handle behavioral challenges. When all the enlisted classroom interventions are ineffective, however, the teacher obviously needs to look elsewhere for assistance. The closest source of advice is usually colleagues who also handle similar children, with same nature of difficulties. However, a very rich source of information is the student’s parent. The National Education Association (NEA) Code of Ethics which was adopted in 1975 encourages teachers to focus on determining the needs of the students. Under Principle I, NEA requires educators to help all students meet their potential through realization that they are significant members of the society. The Code of Ethics also notes that the teacher must be good at collecting information. Educators must inquire about the student and gather as much information as is relevant to the need to be addressed. The broad range of information should not be used for any purpose other than setting proper goals. As a future teacher, I understand that my role in addressing difficulties with students will also require that I protect students from factors that might prove harmful to their health and safety as these are very likely to affect their learning process.

6.2 Documentation

Documentation is a beneficial way of recording and maintaining information about the students. Right from the time a student is admitted at the elementary school, major details are always recorded. In fact, Education for All Handicapped Children Act of 1975 requires educators to should take active role in creating important legal document (IEP). IEP demonstrates that the educators have clear understanding of the child’s needs, the services that the school should provide to meet the needs, and how the impact of such services will be examined.

Another important area is documenting facts about the student’s behavior, misconduct, and the strategies taken to address such behavior. This ac help the institution review strategies it has in place to tackle challenges, difficulties, and behavior problems in students, to determine if improvement is required. Moreover, documentation regarding strategies employed to handle undesirable behavior can guide future educators on handling similar situations. The point worth noting with respect to documentation is that the teacher must always be objective regardless of the method applied. Important contents of the records include: date and time of the events, place of occurrence, individuals who participated, and the interventions that were implemented. Another important point is that the documented information should be confidential.

6.3 Referral Process

Teachers try their best to understand the needs of the students and identify methods of delivering services that match those needs. Documenting the behavior of each child is very important, particularly, when external assistant is necessary. Using the written behavior trend of the student, the teacher may inquire intervention from others. The first stage in the referral process is Recognition of discrepancies in a student’s social, physical, behavioral, and academic potential.

On account of such challenges, the teacher should hold a meeting with the parents or guardians of the student. Documents such as classroom notes and student’s previous work will act as evidence of the challenge in question. The second stage is the Pre-referral, which involves establishment and adoption of alternative learning strategies for the student. Following the 2004 amendments to IDEA, schools now use pre-referral approach known as response to intervention (RTI) that includes: practical interventions relevant to student needs; constant monitoring of academic and behavior; and application of gathered details to implement educational decisions. If the interventions fail the student is referred to special education (IEP referral), disciplinary, or counseling referral.   

Section 7: Legal Issues Regarding Discipline

In this Section includes:

· Mandatory Reporter


· Compelling State Interests/Duty of Care

· Student Rights

· Teacher Rights

7.1 Mandatory Reporter

The legislative requirements for both the students and teachers at school level are contained in California laws such as FERPA, IDEA, and California Education Code. The knowledge of these laws provides assistance when reporting child abuse.


The Family Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a Federal law that supports confidentiality of educational records of the student. The law opposes disclosure of student records without a reasonable cause. FERPA however allows the teachers and parents to check the records and correct, where necessary, but the students’ records can only be disclosed if:

· Educators have a legal educational interest,

· A student is being transferred to a different school,

· For either audit or evaluation requirements,

· In connection with financial assistance for the student,

· Certain organizations are select to conduct a study based on the school,

· In accordance with judicial order, health and safety concerns, or in order to meet specific State laws.

7.3 Compelling State Interests/Duty of Care

The State of California requires a certain level of protection for children who go to school. The California Department of Education (2012) provides access to education codes that generally prohibit behaviors such as discrimination, harassment, intimidation, and bullying in public schools. The California Education Code as well explains that the local education agency is in charge of protecting students from the mentioned misconducts.

7.4 Student Rights

There are several statutes within California law that protect the rights of students. The statutes that clearly inform about student rights include FERPA, IDEA, as well as the California Education Code. FERPA is concerned with the safety and confidentiality of students’ records, IDEA aims to make sure that all students are provided with free and public education, and California Education Code aims to see schools offer appropriate education for exceptional students.

7.5 Teacher Rights

The California Teachers Association documented a guide to educational rights of teachers with respect to areas such as the classroom, administration, and with parents (the California Education Code sections 44811 – 49091). The most important rights gathered from the sections include: the freedom to record and maintain documentation on student discipline, the right to stop an aggressive parental meeting, and the right to be represented in a meeting by an administrative body for the purpose of cultivating discipline.

7.6 Special Local Policies

The following policies are from Balboa Middle School Student Handbook (2017).

7.6.1 Dress Code (including Hair, Tattoos, etc.)

All students at Balboa are expected to dress according to the Balboa dress code that requires shoes to be worn at all times. Students may also wear jewelry, clothing, and own other personal items as long as they do not contain “bad language” in the form of writing. These may be writings that encourage cultural discrimination, sexual violence, or market an alcoholic/tobacco company. The school also complies with Education Code 35183.5 hence allows students to wear head covering clothing like caps while outdoors. The code also requires that school uniform completely conceals undergarments. The dress code also prohibits use of hair sprays containing colors that are likely to drip if not properly dried. Moreover, students must not have visible tattoos.

7.6.2 Objectionable Materials/Prohibited Items

Students are not allowed to bring to school personal items that express racial, ethical, sexual, or religious discrimination. The school also prohibits clothing, jewelry, and other accessories promote formation of a gang or advocate for use of drugs. Clothing that does not fully cover undergarments or those with holes are not allowed. Slippers, flip flops and shoes with no sole are also prohibited.

7.6.3 Locker Searches

Lockers are school district property given to students to help them store and protect their items. Students are expected to handle the lockers with care and kept free from items that the school codes identify to be illegal. Since locker ownership is merely a privilege, the school rules allow the principal or a recognized designee control and access to the student lockers. The school regulations also allow them to search the lockers as a way of ensuring that students do not use the property for illegal motives.

7.6.4 Tardies/absences

Parents are expected to inform the school about a student’s absence. When this procedure is not followed, the student will have to present a note containing full names, date, reasons for absence and must be signed by the parent.  Any absences exceeding three days may require sending of notification to the parent. If student has accumulated absences, parents and the student may be called for a School Attendance Review Team (SART) meeting. Beyond this, fines may be applied to persistent absences.

7.6.5 Cell Phone Use

Balboa Middle School allows students to own cell phones or smart phones but must be turned off during school hours, unless the teacher instructs the students to turn them own for the purpose of learning. The school generally prefers that electronic devices be left at home and a student who needs to use a phone during school hours has to be supervised by an adult. Violation of rules regarding cell phone application may lead to confiscation and later return to student or parent if the case is serious. Students are not allowed to use cell phones to take pictures in the school compound.  

7.6.6 Hazing, Harassment, and/or Bullying Policies

Balboa has several rules that prevent harassment, bullying, and other harmful behavior as follows:

i) Students must show respect and behave responsibly at campus and on the way to and from school.

ii) No dangerous objects like laser pointers, matches, lighters, or packet knifes are allowed in the school premises.

iii) Use appropriate language with peers and staffs.

iv) Avoid violence or watching and recording of scenes that contain insults.

v) Students are encouraged to collaborate with others are ensure safety for all.

vi) The school rules also prevent students from playing dangerous games such as throwing objects, teasing, and mocking others. Issuing threats and intimidation is not allowed.

7.6.7 Cheating, Plagiarism and/or Forgery Policies

Balboa Middle School expects parents to help teachers eliminate incidents of cheating or forgery and plagiarism. The school rules are against cases including: actual copying of other student’s work, trying to copy work belonging to another student, plagiarism, possession of crib notes, and helping other students with cheating activities.

Section 8: Professional Dispositions and Growth Plan

In this Section includes:

· Review of the Reflection and Growth Plan

8.1 Review of the Reflection Plan

A. Progress Assessment

The dispositional survey indicates the place of a person as an effective educator using a wide range of perspectives especially scholarship, teamwork, active reflection, responsible citizenry and expertise. The survey results ranks my capability as emerging for all other categories except under standards of exemplary work, since this area shows my ability as developed.

My strength is that I can engage all students during learning regardless of their abilities or cultural background because I am usually driven by the desire to help my students achieve higher academic goals. This has been made possible by my ability to exercise patience when helping students discover their potential, and in helping students design goals for improving in their weak areas. Patience is in fact very important because it allows enough time for even the students with limited ability to identify key objectives and work towards success.

B. Growth and Development Plan

In my growth and development plan, I want to focus on improving an area that I believe is valuable in my teaching practice. My area of focus is teamwork. According to the survey results, the score for teamwork was ranked as emerging. This is relatively a good score but it does not match my expectations hence I really want to improve in this area. I believe that teamwork is crucial in an environment of learning. Banks & McGee (2016) states one of the advantages of teamwork as the ability to maximize academic outcomes through proper coordination and cooperation. This does not rule out the fact that an individual educator can achieve success on his/her own but only explains that teamwork makes work easier and more efficient. 

C. Strategies for Improvement

My major strategy for improving teamwork is to collaborate with parent/guardians, students, and other educators in developing procedures as well as implementing rules. I believe that this type of partnership is required in order to improve academic achievement. My method will ensure consistent engagement of teachers, parents, and students in major procedures that involve goal setting and implementation along with monitoring of the agreed upon schedules. I hope to achieve a state whereby I control parental involvement in their children’s education. 

Cultivating such relations is very important as it makes easy access to parental feedback, which will play a major role in monitoring the progress of the children. Away from this, I plan to conduct frequent meetings with the teachers so that we brainstorm best strategies for teaching and dealing with children from a multicultural setting. 

Partnering with other teachers will not only improve my teaching ability but will also contribute to sustainability of my teamwork, enabling me to adapt easily to new work environments and deal responsible with the people I meet in my new environment. Teamwork skills will enable me interact and work with individuals with different views, personalities and perspectives that will all contribute to growth of my knowledge and abilities as an educator (Banks and McGee, 2016).