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The Socially Skilled Kids Blog


Having to find behavior management techniques for dealing with defiant student behaviors in the classroom is a reality for all teachers. Classroom teachers, special subject teachers and assistant teachers, all have to respond to a variety of defiant behavior(s), sometimes, on a daily basis. Defiant behavior(s) also affects the other students who share space with those who are struggling. This post will give you 10 tips for classroom management that will help new teachers and experienced teachers with defiant behaviors.  


Some, experience severe behaviors. This post will address good classroom management strategies for dealing with mild-moderately defiant behaviors. These are behaviors that are unsettling and/or disruptive to your teaching, including; non-compliance, arguing and being rude and disrespectful.

*The strategies discussed here and the Freebies passed along, are not intended for significantly defiant...

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This time of year I tend to put a lot of focus on the explicit teaching of two very important social skills; Teamwork and Cooperation


Of course, teaching teamwork and cooperation skills are essential skills all-year-long, and are used in nearly every activity in school and in life.


For me, the importance of teaching teamwork and cooperation skills really seems to stand out, as I watch my students to playing sports and games at recess, and engaging in cooperative activities on the playground in in their classrooms. 



Teamwork and Cooperation are defined very similarly, and my students always tell me they are the same thing.


But there are some subtle and important differences that I like to keep in mind and the good news is, you can learn them too! This post will look at the difference between teamwork and cooperation and it will give you some good ideas on how to teach these skills in your classroom.



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As a special educator in a public school, I see lots and lots and lots of teachers using a behavior contract for students in the classroom!

The way I feel about a behavior contract for students is the same way I feel about using a Social Story … They can be very helpful when used properly, but are often over relied upon and can end up being ineffective without important “pre-work” and follow through with student behavior.

In order to be successful with a behavioral contract, the student must have the ability to perform the skill asked of him/her. For example, even if you offered me a gazillion stickers {or dollars}, to join a pro wrestling team…I couldn’t do it. I just don’t have the skill. I might be VERY motivated to get the reward, but if I don’t have the skill, It doesn’t matter how motivated I am. I won't be able to accomplish the target behaviors.

Often, we believe there is a lack of student motivation when...

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back to school mindset Jul 15, 2020


“How do I motivate my student?!”  This is a question that I get asked frequently as a special educator. 

There is a lot of pressure on teachers to “get” a child to do whatever the task at hand may be, no matter how unmotivated the student is. Many varieties of behavior plans and incentive plans have been used, with varying degrees of success, mostly, short term success.

And it always comes back to…how do I motivate my student?



What is motivation?


Motivation is what makes us do the things we do. We often think of two types of motivation, intrinsic or extrinsic.

Intrinsic motivation is that which comes from within us. For example, someone may play soccer because they think it’s fun.

Extrinsic motivation is when something external gets us to do something. For example, someone may play soccer because their parents tell them they have to or they can not play video games. 



Is Intrinsic...

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Do you have a student {or 2, or 3…} who cry over every … little …thing? Ugh … It can be sooo challenging when students do not know how to regulate emotions. We love our kiddos, but when they cry over every little thing that they perceive as a problem {or major crisis} it can be super frustrating. As well as difficult to carry on and teach! Keep reading this post to learn the best way to help teach your students emotional regulation skills.

As a special educator, I frequently get asked how to help these “frequent criers.” Of course, there are many reasons why a child may be crying so much.

First and foremost, I don’t take it lightly, as you never truly know what might be the cause of frequent crying. But if you have done some investigating and you are reasonably sure that there is nothing critically wrong, i.e. severe problems with the child’s home life, health, medical or psychological reason...

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Does your school system teach spelling?  A lot of systems do not have official spelling programs. Even if they do, they don’t usually extend beyond elementary school. And they don’t usually provide alternative approaches for teaching spelling for those kids who just  aren’t getting it.

So what do you do with those struggling spellers? The students that, in the fourth grade, still…can’t…spell.



In the fourth grade my son struggled to learn all of the spelling rules. He rocked at phonics in the early elementary grades, but beyond that…well, let’s just say he over learned phonics and could not learn and apply the many complicated spelling rules we have in the english language.

After watching him come home with poor spelling tests week after week in the 4th grade, I knew I had to do something alternative to help him. So I came up with some modified spelling activities that I thought would help him...

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Do your students struggle to demonstrate good sport behaviors? Do they truly understand what it means to be a good sport?

Many students think they know, but when I ask them, they can not explain it. That’s why I teach this concept explicitly in early elementary and to targeted small groups of upper elementary, as needed.



Good sportsmanship is so important in all facets of our student’s day. Whether it be working on a classroom assignment with their peers, playing a board game during in-door recess, an activity in P.E, or engaging in a class discussion. Good sportsmanship is a must, if we are to get along with others and make/keep friends.

Students with special needs often struggle a lot with this skill. Many of my students have a difficult time taking the perspectives of others and therefore feel they should always get what they want. This does not usually go over well with their peers.


How many times a day do you find yourself...

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Do you have students who get really upset when they make even the smallest mistake? 

Do you have students who try so hard to avoid making mistakes that they get incredibly anxious and preoccupied with doing something “right?”

Do you have students who struggle to understand (or admit) when they have made a mistake that requires an apology?

I do.


I have students who will rip their papers if they don’t like the way something looks. They will work really hard on something and then, out of (what seems like) nowhere, rip it up and throw it across the room. 

It’s heartbreaking.

I also have students who are so afraid to make a mistake that they sit quietly all day and will not start anything until the teacher gives them explicit instructions.  They ask the same questions over and over, checking, to make sure they are doing it “right.”


And yes, I also have students who refuse to admit when they make a...

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Back to school is right around the corner! How many days until you go back to school?! Summer break seems to go by faster every year. Soon we will all be checking off our school supplies lists and shopping for new school clothes.

As another new school year is about to begin, I’d like to share some of my favorite ways to help students build their social competence.

Of course academic are extremely important, and teachers are all very busy with overflowing academic plates, but I believe it is equally important {if not more} to grow our student’s social competence as well.


Why should we spend time working on social skills?


Because competent social skills are necessary for both academic and social success.  Students who have competent social skills will be able to engage with each other more successfully in the classroom, while working together on group projects, sharing space and materials with others, and while playing at recess.


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