Proactive or Reactive?


Imagine a friend tells you they have had three major kitchen fires in the last week and asks you what to do next time it happens. Are you going to teach them how to use a fire extinguisher? How to dial the fire department faster? You are probably going to wonder what in the world is going on in that kitchen that causes fires to keep happening.

Whenever I give a talk on behavior, educators throw me scenarios where wildly dysregulated kids are doing dangerous things and they ask for solutions. The problem is that their question starts when they are pretty much out of options. The real magic of managing behavior (and kitchen fires) isn’t in the emergency response, it’s in the prevention. That’s where you have all the options, power, and control.

The most powerful thing you can do to take control of behavior is to focus on the proactive supports you provide. Here are the key elements of a proactive approach:

1. Establish routines: Help students learn expectations through repetition. Repetition helps overcome executive deficits present in many students with challenging behavior
2. Prepare students: pre-teach, front-load, practice and provide predictable experiences.
3. Manage the environment: Organize the learning environment so it supports the smooth operation of your classroom. Make changes to the trouble spots and difficult times.
4. Set a positive tone: Focus on what is going well. Provide direct feedback to students on what they are doing well.
5. Regular breaks: Provide regular breaks to stretch, move and engage in self-regulating activities.

What are some other ways you are proactive to prevent crises?

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