Research shows that teachers in the US struggle with lack of proper classroom management training. Effective classroom management strategies are particularly important when you work with adolescents with different emotional or/and behavioral problems. Many teenagers have behavior issues or mental health issues such as ADHD or depression that affect their functioning at home and school. Here are the top 10 strategies to effectively teach troubled youth and help them reach their milestones.
Show desired behaviors and attitudes before you expect them. In other words, if you expect appropriate behaviors and healthy attitudes from your students, you are going to have to teach that. Habitually demonstrate behaviors you want to see in your classroom and discuss them with your students.
Also, model appropriate anger management skills. Show adolescents how to cope with feelings of anger productively. For example, take a time-out when you feel upset, then verbalize your feelings, discuss alternative reactions and apologize for your behavior if needed. Articulating your feelings will help your students learn how to talk about their emotions and understand them better.
Make a Connection
Schooling troubled youth is not just about teaching them math or science. It is also about making connections with these kids and showing them that you care. Many of these tough teenagers come from very challenging home situations. Dysfunctional family dynamics, neglect, and violence are only a few issues these students have to handle every day.
Show interest in your students’ lives, talk about their interests and encourage them to make plans for the future. Be proactive and help your students develop socially. Bonding with troubled youth will show them they can trust you and they will start opening up to you about their feelings, thoughts, hopes, and experiences.
Use Positive Reinforcement
One of the most powerful tools in preventing problem behaviors in the classroom is creating a positive classroom atmosphere. Responding appropriately to troubled youth’s appropriate and problem behaviors will help set the tone of the classroom environment and clarify rules and expectations.
Praise your students’ efforts and accomplishments and track each student’s progress. Show them that you are proud of their successes and let them know that you recognize their effort.
Set the Rules
At the beginning of a new school year, discuss behavior rules and create the list of classroom rules together. Make sure to post them in a visible spot in your classroom. Also, print and distribute this list of classroom rules to each student. Often go through the rules that the class discussion generated – this will emphasize your intention to follow them. Also, when a student breaks a rule, remind them of the document you created together.
Teenagers need to know appropriate ways to deal with their emotions. For example, instead of saying, “Don’t yell in the classroom,” discuss what they can do when they feel upset and frustrated.
When handling aggressive behavior and anger, use time-out to help your troubled students calm down. Teach them that removing themselves from the situation and taking a few minutes to themselves can help them calm down. Also, teach troubled youth problem-solving skills so they can recognize that they can solve problems without resorting to aggression. Also, discuss ways to resolve conflicts peacefully. This will boost their resilience, self-esteem, and autonomy.
Relaxation techniques such as yoga and mindfulness meditation that focus on breathing can be a helpful tool in coping with negative emotions such as frustration and anger. These are normal feelings and kids, and teenagers usually need to release them through physical expression. However, you need to teach them to reflect on these feelings and safely redirect them.
Also, mindfulness meditation has proven to be very helpful in managing strong emotions such as anger. Mindfulness for anger can help your students learn how to switch from hasty, reactive mindset into a more productive and composed one.
Help Them Understand a Relationship between Responsibilities and Freedoms
Teenagers seek freedom in everything they do. However, there is often a disparity between the freedom they ask for and the responsibilities they are willing to bow to. And this mainly goes for the troubled youth. They are always trying new things, often evidently lacking impulse control.
Teach your students that freedom and responsibilities go hand in hand and that they cannot have one without the other. Allow for autonomy and independence but encourage the teens to accept responsibilities as well.
Allow your students to be independent in their assignments and classroom presentations. Promote growth mindset and encourage curiosity and creativity. Use diverse teaching strategies and apply some video games elements in classes. Help students change their language and encourage them always to expand their answers. This will help your students develop their talents and use them in and outside of the classroom.
Provide Physical Outlets
It is essential that your students have opportunities for movement and physical exercise. Encourage them to take part in the drama, music, and art activities as well as numerous sports at school and home.
Research has proven that physical activity benefits our mental health in many ways. Exercise can elevate our energy levels, boost your immune system, and help release tension. Additionally, regular physical activity can alleviate the symptoms related to anxiety and depression, and strengthen our resilience.
Also, regular exercise can boost your students’ self-esteem and improve their focus, thinking, and memory. Finally, studies confirm that people who exercise regularly report that this activity considerably lifts their mood and optimism.
Goals are important because they keep us focused on what’s important and gives us a sense of control. Setting clear goals is vital for both our personal and professional success. Goals provide motivation and vision because when we know what we want from life and how to achieve it, we have a higher chance of success. Moreover, setting goals can help your students focus on acquiring skills and knowledge they need to succeed and to stay organized. Therefore, teaching your troubled students how to set realistic goals can change their lives.