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Work Smarter, Not Harder: The Power of Self-Management

By Sara Fienup & Erin Leskovic, RSE-TASC Behavior Specialists

Teachers typically report that dealing with students’ disruptive behaviors is the single greatest challenge they face (Fox & Hemmeter, 2009). This likely comes as no surprise to anyone who has ever worked in an educational setting. Challenging behaviors can be extraordinarily frustrating for even the most experienced teachers, as they can derail a lesson and reduce learning opportunities for both the student engaging in the behaviors and his/her peers. Challenging behaviors can lead to feelings of stress and uncertainty if teachers don’t feel they have the tools to respond effectively and efficiently. In a 2004 survey, a whopping 75% of teachers reported that they “would have more time to spend on teaching and teaching effectively if there were fewer disruptive behaviors in the classroom” (Guardino & Fullerton, 2010). So how can teachers feel confident in dealing with challenging behaviors and spend more time teaching? Self-management may be the answer.

This month’s Bright Spots come from the Quality Improvement Process (QIP) team at Hillcrest Elementary School in Peekskill.

What were students able to achieve?

Students with disabilities:

  • spent more time in general education classes
  • took on leadership roles as team and class leaders
  • increased the frequency and quality of their student-led discussions demonstrating higher levels of critical thinking
  • developed a growth mindset
  • increased reading stamina and comprehension as well as knowledge of math concepts and facts

What practices or systems made this possible?


  • learned about and implemented evidence-based practices
  • developed a common language around planning scaffolded lessons, then collaboratively planned specially designed instruction and co-taught lessons
  • had students start each lesson discussing “why is this important?” with each other
  • collected and analyzed RtI data with clinical staff
  • engaged in inter-classroom and -grade visitations
  • held classroom celebrations for student behavior
  • increased parent involvement

What can we learn from this Bright Spot?

When a team of teachers and administrators collaborate to identify the critical school and life outcomes for their students with disabilities, and then collaboratively create, implement and evaluate a quality improvement plan that is shared with staff for feedback on an on-going basis, students achieve critical and life-long academic and social-emotional skills.


Self-Check Behavior Checklist Maker – July/August 2017

Intervention Central is a website that offers free tools and resources for educators. Here you can find the Self-Check Behavior Checklist Maker, which allows teachers to create personalized checklists for students to use to manage their classroom behavior. Teachers can…

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