High School

Grades 9 - 12 Behavior

What questions should I be asking my child's teacher?

Do you have any concerns about my child's behavior? If so, what is the behavior and how often is it happening?

  • It is important to define the behavior clearly to make sure you and your child's teacher are discussing the same problem. Ask your child's teacher to define the behavior by giving specific examples. If the behavior is described as defiant, ask "What does he do when he is being defiant?" You may find that you see the behavior at home either more or less after it's been defined with examples.
  • Ask the teacher how often the behavior occurs. Teachers and other school staff have different tolerances for behavior. Getting an idea of how often a behavior is happening will help you know whether you are being successful when you put a plan in place to reduce the behavior.

How much different is my child's behavior from the other students in the class?

  • If many other students are also doing the behavior, the teacher may want to put a classroom-wide plan in place to reduce the behavior. If your child is the only student with the behavior, than a plan that just works on her behavior may be better. It is sometimes helpful to determine whether the behavior is happening when your child is by herself, with a small group of students, or with a large group of students.
  • Children can act differently depending on the setting and what they are being asked to do. Some children behave better at school than home, while others behave better at home than school. Your child's teacher may see more or less challenging behavior than you see at home.

SHARE WITH YOUR CHILD'S TEACHER WHAT HAS BEEN SUCCESSFUL IN PREVIOUS YEARS.

  • Teachers have different methods and approaches, but it may be helpful to describe what has worked in previous years to improve your child's behavior. What works for one teacher may not work with another, but sharing what has worked in the past with as much detail as possible can prevent problems before they occur.

What are your school wide behavior expectations?

  • Your child's school may have a set of behaviors (usually 3-5) that are taught to students at school called school wide behavior expectations. The expected behaviors are taught in all of the different settings in school where these behaviors could occur. Learning what expected behaviors are, may help you teach them at home as well.

Ask your teacher how he would like you to communicate with him.

  • Parent involvement is very important, but knowing the best way to communicate with teachers isn't always easy. Teachers have different communication styles; some use email, some send notes home and some prefer phone calls. Ask your child's teacher his preference for keeping in regular communication, and how often he prefers each style of communication be used. How often you communicate may be different based on how severe the difficulty is you are trying to work on.

Encourage your child to talk to his teachers before or after class.

  • Teenagers sometimes have a difficult time adjusting to the different expectations of different teachers while in middle school and high school. Encourage your child to talk to his teachers before or after each class. This will help him form relationships with his teachers and should also help him to learn how to meet each teacher's expectations. You can help your child get started by giving him specific questions to ask his teachers before or after class. Tell your child that you will expect the answers to the questions when you see him after school.

ask your child's teacher(s) about next steps.

  • If your child is showing a pattern of behavior that is affecting her academic outcomes and/or is resulting in suspensions from school, you may need to have a functional behavioral assessment done to develop a behavioral intervention plan.
  • Functional Behavioral Assessment (FBA) will take a look at where the behavior is occurring, what happens right before the behavior, what the behavior is and what the child is "getting" out of his behavior. FBAs are sometimes done by a small team such as teachers and parents, and sometimes include other staff trained to work with student behavior.
  • Behavioral Intervention Plan (BIP) is a plan that uses school resources to reduce challenging behavior and increase appropriate behavior.

When should I ask for help?

Ask for help with your child if...

  • he seems depressed or irritable, has changes in sleep habits (for more than a few nights), eats too little or too much (not related to illness), or stops showing enjoyment in his favorite activities.
  • she has outbursts that result in hurting herself or someone else. Or, if outbursts last long periods of time and interfere with the family’s ability to function normally.
  • he refuses to go to school, frequently calls to come home, has repeated headaches or stomachaches that only occur on school days.
  • she does not interact with other children, does not seem to have friends at school, or does not join in any family activities but instead prefers to be alone.
  • he has used or has repeatedly talked about using drugs illegally or in a way not prescribed for him by a doctor.This is true even if you believe it is just experimental.
  • You MUST SEEK HELP if you believe your teen is suicidal, if she has talked about suicide in relation to herself, and/or if someone close to your family has recently committed suicide. Teenagers struggle with the idea that death is permanent and often are not capable of truly understanding the consequences. If your teen is at risk, please call your local hospital or community mental health.

SOURCES

Bright Futures
Wisconsin RtI Center
Michigan Department of Education Michigan Merit Curriculum
Michigan's Integrated Behavior and Learning Support Initiative
Center for Effective Collaboration and Practice