Challenging Students

What Every Teacher Should Know About…Punishment Techniques and Student Behavior Plans

According to this definition, events that serve to decrease an individual's behaviors are considered to be punishers.

Time Out From Reinforcement

Time-out from reinforcement ("time-out") is a procedure in which a child is placed in a different, less-rewarding situation or setting whenever he or she engages in undesirable or inappropriate b

Jim's Hints

Use Time-Out as a Classwide Strategy. A well-crafted time-out program can be taught to an entire class, not just to one or several students. A classwide use of time-out avoids singling out (and possibly stigmatizing) specific children as time-out targets.

Pair Off With Colleagues as Time-Out Buddies. Instructors may want to enlist other teachers as 'time-out' partners, so that either teacher can use the other's classroom as a safe, supervised time-out location for their students when needed. Teachers who collaborate in this way might even agree to create a single, uniform time-out program, teaching the procedures and expectations to all students in both classrooms.


Time-Out Options


Non-Exclusionary Time Out. The student remains in the instructional setting but is temporarily prevented from taking part in reinforcing activities.

Contingent Observation. The student is relocated to another part of the classroom. The student continues to watch the instructional activities but is not otherwise allowed to participate.

Exclusion. The student is removed to another part of the room and cannot watch or otherwise take part in group activities.

Isolation/Seclusion. The student is removed entirely from the instructional setting to a separate time-out room.

Teacher Behavioral Strategies: A Menu

Here is a sampling of strategies that teachers can use either to head off or to provide consequences for low- to medium-level student misbehavior:

Talk Ticket

Teachers seldom have the time to drop everything and talk at length with a student who is upset about an incident that occurred within , or outside of, school.

Jim's Hints

Take the Time to Talk...This intervention will probably be most effective if the adult who debriefs with the student is able to use a structured problem-solving approach to help the student reflect on (1) what factors led to the problem in the first place and (2) how he or she might avoid such problems in the future. If time allows, consider using the Long Form version of the Talk Ticket and have the student fill out the "Talk Ticket Reflective Planner" as well.

Strategies for Working With Emotionally Unpredictable Students

Stage 1: Frustration

Warning Signs: The student may…

  • bite nails or lips
  • grimace
  • mutter or grumble
  • appear flushed or tense

School-Wide Strategies for Managing... OFF-TASK / INATTENTION

Students who have chronic difficulties paying attention in class face the risk of poor grades and even school failure.

Jim's Hints

ADHD Inattentive Type Fact Sheet. This handout addresses frequently asked questions about the inattentive type of ADHD. The handout was created by CHADD: Children and Adults With Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. (

Children's Health Topics: ADHD. Sponsored by the American Academy of Pediatrics, this page contains links to ADHD topics such as establishing and evaluating a treatment plan for children with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder.

Teaching Children With ADHD: Instructional Strategies. Published by the U.S. Department of Education, this 22-page booklet has great ideas to manage the academic and behavioral needs of children with attention problems.

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