In schools, psycho-education is a classroom behavior management method that aims at training teachers and students about children's emotional and behavioral problems. Psycho-educational teachers believe that socio-emotional growth happens when children understand the role that emotions play in their school difficulties. Psycho-educational theory and methods include cognitive (thinking), affective (feelings), and behavior aspects.
This is an excerpt from my article, “Classroom Management Strategies for Dealing with Habitually Disruptive Students: Applications of Psycho-Educational Principles and Models.” To read the complete article, click on the link at the bottom of this post.
In their historical analysis of psycho-educational theories and schools of thought, Wood, Brendtro, Fecser, and Nichols (1999) listed the following models:
The Psychodynamic Model. A model that developed from psychologist Alfred Adler, the psychodynamic model places the biggest emphasis on emotions in resolving inner conflicts.
The Behavioral Model. This is probably the best-known model in current general and special education classrooms. With a foundation in learning theory, the behavioral model uses principles of reinforcement to modify observable behaviors.
The Sociological Model. This model sees the peer group as the primary agent to change behavior, thinking, and values. This psycho-educational model has a strong foundation in social psychology and its concepts of social power and the role of group members.
The Ecological Model. Known as the re-education model, this model combines complex social systems like mental health and human services, and personal factors in interaction.
The Developmental Model. This model emerged from theories of personality development and developmental psychology, that is, theories regarding how human characteristics develop in healthy ways, or in predictable and sequential phases. The developmental model believes that our experiences with other people, or our social environment, influence the way we behave, feel, and think; also our motivation, attitudes, and values.
The Cognitive-Affective Model. This is the psycho-educational model that most strongly connects the way we think with our emotions and behavior. The cognitive-affective model helps troubled and disruptive students make sense of their experiences focusing on teaching children thinking (cognitions) and emotional (affect) self-regulation skills. Contrary to the behavioral model, structured exclusively on external controls (positive and negative rewards), the cognitive-affective model helps children develop self-management of behavior by teaching personal understanding and decision-making skills. Of Interest to Teachers...
Essentials of Emotional Communication for Reaching the Unreachable Student: Where Do I Start? What Do I Say? How Do I Do It? To preview this book on amazon, click here.
Teachers can use prompts to remind students of the classroom rules. Silent (gestures) or verbal (words and phrases) prompting reminds a child or the class either to begin a behavior that the teacher wants or to stop a behavior that the teacher does not want. The goal in prompting children is to increase the probability that the behavior that we want is the one that is going to happen. Prompts are always delivered in a friendly way, and we should restrain from showing any sign of anger, frustration, or impatience. In one sentence, with a prompt, we remind children of the rule or behavior that they have forgotten. When used this way, the prompt functions as a reactive measure, that is, we give the reminder in response to the child’s behavior, or after the unwanted behavior. Some examples of reactive prompts are:
·Gregory, what is the rule about _____?
·Remember Lisa, we agreed that there will be no chewing gum in the classroom.
·Brenda, what is the rule when we go to the listening center?
·Drake, what are you doing? (Implying that Drake is doing something wrong.)
·Nancy, can you tell the class what we discussed yesterday about wearing caps in school?
Although they were given in reaction to an unwanted behavior or reactively, most of the examples above can also be delivered in anticipation of the behavior or proactively. In a proactive prompt, we remind the child or the class before the unwanted behavior happens. Some examples:
·Alexis, what do we do at 9 AM?
·Lunch in five minutes.
·Gregory, what is the rule about _____?
·Frankie, what is the rule when we are in the library?
·Casey, remind the class where do we hang our coats and book bags.
·Ruben, what do we do after silent reading?
See the similarities? Turning a reactive intervention into proactive discipline is as simple as anticipating when a problem behavior happens, and a few seconds before, prompting and reviewing the expectation of acceptable classroom behavior with the class. While the teacher is the one prompting, the teacher, an individual child, or even the whole class can review the rule or standard. Most importantly, by consistently giving prompts and reminders, teachers can set up a behavior management system that effectively targets and reduces the occurrence of those behaviors that students are having most difficulty complying with.
Sometimes a one-word prompting will do the work, for example, saying “Book” (Open your book), “Toy” (Put away the toy), or “Cut” (Stop talking). On different occasions, a silent or nonverbal signal will send the message. Signals like frowning, coughing, or switching the lights are common in the classroom, but for less common signals, it is best if we explain in advance what the signal means, and then, we use the signal consistently. For example:
·Tapping the head: Think before you talk
·Finger on lips: Be quiet
·Finger scissors: Cut, stop what you are doing, or stop talking
·Hand palm down and lowered by degrees: Lower your voices
·Tapping a student’s desk: Back to work
When teachers use more prompts and fewer reprimands, we avoid identifying the same children as repeated offenders or “troublemakers.” In the following example, the teacher is training the class to comply with the rule, “When I talk, you listen” by stating the rule repeatedly. When one student interrupts, the teacher prompts, “When I talk…” and the class completes, “…We listen!” This way, the teacher does not single out any specific child, and allstudents (including the “troublemakers”) internalize the rule by hearing it frequently and by saying the rule aloud (Rief, 1993).
Rief, S. F. (1993). How to reach and teach ADD/ADHD children: Practical techniques, strategies, and interventions for helping children with attention problems and hyperactivity. West Nyack, NY: Center for Applied Research in Education.
Improving Children’s Compliance-Part 1: Kinds of Commands