Partnering to Build “Good Day Plans” for Students
By Elaine Gould, M.Ed., and Butler Knight, Ed.S.
Updated September/October 2013
Originally Publsihed September/October 2009
Like most students, students with behavior difficulties want to be fully included in all aspects of the classroom community (Crowe, 2008); however, these same students often lack the necessary skills to reach this goal. These skill deficits can be the primary obstacle to meaningful inclusion for students with disabilities in general education settings (Crowe, 2008; Renzaglia, Karvonen, Drasgow, & Stoxen, 2003).
How can teachers partner with students so they can become more engaged in learning and eliminate the need to resort to negative behavior? Stopping student misbehavior may be as easy as asking students for their input. Students can provide valuable insight into learning and social experiences that are connected to their problem behaviors, and they can play an active role in determining what they need in order to accomplish their goals and have good days in school. When teachers partner with students to set goals and plan environmental and instructional interventions, they discover what is important to students (Crowe, 2008; Kennedy, Long, Jolivette, Cox, Tang, & Thompson, 2001; Neighbors, 2007). Support strategies can subsequently be designed that are focused on the student’s goals and what the student needs to achieve these goals (Benitez, Lattimore, & Wehmeyer, 2005; Kennedy et al., 2001).
Developing Good Day Plans for students involves the following steps.
- Before the problem-solving process begins, build a relationship with the student. Greet him or her in the hallways or upon entering the classroom. Ask the student about interests, family, and extracurricular activities. Students are more likely to trust and be more open to adults who they believe care about them.
- Arrange a meeting with the student and positively state the reason for the meeting. Explain to the student that you would like to help him or her through a difficult situation.
- Show concern and understanding without blaming the student for any misbehavior. He or she will be more willing to communicate honestly about feelings when the problem behavior is occurring. This step will help to identify the experiences that are connected to the behavior and provide a foundation for the problem-solving process.
- When discussing behaviors that the student needs to improve, teachers should be explicit about identifying the student’s role in the process and identifying who can help achieve the student’s goals. Teachers can assist students as they select from a list of realistic strategies that can be implemented to help the student succeed.
- Decide on short-term goals towards which the student can work.
- After implementing the strategies, take time to discuss with the student how the plan is working. Celebrate success, or, if the desired result is not achieved, involve the student in making adjustments to current strategies (Crowe, 2008; Neighbours, 2007; Benitez et al., 2005).
Crowe (2008) described a student who “fell apart” when writing assignments were given. “He would lie on the floor, kick his feet, and refuse to write” (p. 44). The teacher tried to console the student, but his outbursts would continue. After the student had a chance to recover, his teacher scheduled a conference with him to determine how they could make writing time a better experience for him.
Through the discussion, the teacher learned that writing was difficult for the student, and that he was very tired in the afternoons when writing was routinely assigned. The student suggested that he have the opportunity to complete writing assignments early in the day when he was less tired and more alert. After brainstorming several options, the student’s goal was to write two sentences in the morning before the other students arrived at school. He identified his father as someone who could help him reach his goal by driving him to school earlier in the morning. Although all of this student’s problems were not solved, he successfully achieved his short-term goal to write two sentences each morning. When the teacher expected more writing from the student, different strategies were required (Crowe, 2008).
When students with behavioral difficulties are involved in developing their Good Day Plans, they learn to speak for themselves, solve problems, set goals, and become more responsible for their behavior. These are skills that students will need as adults to successfully navigate their environments in school and in the community (Crowe, 2008; Renzaglia et al., 2003).
Benitez, D., Lattimore, J., & Wehmeyer, M. (2005). Promoting the involvement of students with emotional and behavioral disorders in career and vocational planning and decision-making: The self-determined career development model. Behavioral Disorders, 30, 431-447.
Crowe, C. (2008). Solving problem behavior together. Educational Leadership, 66, 44-47.
Kennedy, C. H., Long, T., Jolivette, K., Cox, J., Jung-Chang, T., & Thompson, T. (2001). Facilitating general education participation for students with behavior problems by linking positive behavior supports and person-centered planning. Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, 9, 161-171.
Neighbours, P. (2007). Rallying relationships: The role of positive visions and possible actions in person-centered planning. Research & Practice for Persons with Severe Disabilities, 32, 181-183.
Renzaglia, A., Karvonen, M., Drasgow, E. & Stoxen, C. (2003). Promoting a lifetime of inclusion. Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, 18, 140–149.