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Coastal Georgia Comprehensive Academy
Steve Derr, Principal
The transition of students with severe
emotional/behavioral disabilities back to their home
schools may present challenges and opportunities for
all stakeholders involved.
There are various things administrators, teachers and
parents can do in order to have a more seamless
Common Characteristic Perceptions for Students with
Has mood swings
Has poor self-control
Is disruptive, acts out
Adults are angry with them
Seen as loners, dropouts, dopers, or air heads
Seen as dangerous and rebellious
Seen as weird, dumb
Peers see them as entertaining
Viewed as resistive
(Rizza & Morrison, 2003)
Possible Subcategories for Students with
(Rizza & Morrison, 2003)
Social Skills Instruction
Gilles & Smith (2003) explain that without age
appropriate social skills students will fall behind
academically and will have difficulty making and
Special education teachers explicitly teach social
skills, and provide students practice.
It is imperative that students get “real world”
practice with skills shortly after they are taught.
GNETS teach the skills, but our students have
little opportunity for practice in the general ED
Strategies for Success
Give students and opportunity to meet their teachers and visit the school
before the transition takes place.
Ask the receiving teacher to assign a “buddy” to help bridge the gap.
Introduce each skill at the beginning of a week to the whole class (5-10 mini-
Plan ahead for extra support with transitions and less structured times.
Use common strategies in a effort to build positive relations:
Engage in one-to-one interactions with children
Get on the child’s level for face-to-face interactions
Use a pleasant, calm voice and simple language
Provide warm, responsive physical contact
Follow the child’s lead and interest during play
Help children understand classroom expectations
Bowman-Perrott, Greenwood, & Tapia (2007)
suggest using peer tutoring with students with
It is important, for these students, to allow them
an opportunity to be the tutor and the tutee
Some of the benefits include: practice with social
skills, one-to-one instruction, opportunities to
make errors without a large audience, and
increased time spent on academic behaviors
Groves (2006) states cooperative groups can be useful
for students with social/emotional disabilities when
done in a structured way
Assign roles to each member (time keeper, material
manager, recorder, etc.)
Have each child get a chance to do each role
Identify the Plan for when the student needs extra
Who will the student be able to access?
Develop a signal to let the teacher know they need to step
Have a viable plan in place for missed work—so that
stepping out does not become a method for avoiding
Classroom Management Techniques
The most effective classroom management techniques for students
with emotional/behavioral disabilities are individualized reward
systems and self-monitoring systems
Reward systems allow students to save up tokens, points, or tickets
that they earn for positive behavior and good class work. They then
hand in these tokens, points, or tickets for a reinforcer of their choice
Self-monitoring systems have students monitor their own progress at
a selected skill at predetermined time intervals
(De I’Etoile, 2005)
Strategies to avoid problems
Establish consistent routines and expectations.
Tell students early on about any schedule changes.
Follow Behavior Intervention Plans.
Keep written documentation of behavioral concerns.
Set guidelines for what behavior constitutes removal from
class and what process a student must follow to be allowed to
Provide previews of lessons, assignments, or assessments
Minimize anxiety-triggering experiences
I have had a problem, now what?
Provide a cool down time for smaller issues.
“Cool down time” may look different for different ages and
developmental levels of students.
Provide a safe place where the student can step away for a minute
(quiet chair, desk in the corner, stand outside the door but in
teacher’s view, pass to the bathroom..etc…).
Promote Positive Self-Image
Hunter and Jones (2006) explain that students with
emotional/behavioral disabilities need more praise than
the average student. If you provide them the attention
they crave when they are doing the right thing, they often
won’t feel the need to act out
Displaying student work promotes a positive self-image
and a serious work ethic
Peer tutoring, which was mentioned earlier, also helps
Make your class less “scary” by walking student through
the steps of your lesson (stop the cycle of failure)
If the student has difficulty making choices, choosing
topics, etc. provide student with a short list of ideas to
There is a correlation between
Academic deficits and EBD
50% of students
with EBD drop
out of school
problems than their
Students often lack
basic academic skills
along with negative
(U.S. Department of Education as quoted in Pierce, 2004; Reschly, 2006; Hallahan, 2009).
Improving Academic Outcomes for
Students with EBD
Differentiate instruction and scaffold learning
Our students often act rather than display academic
Break tasks down into smaller “chunks” and establish
Provide instruction in both written and oral forms.
Pre-teach lessons and use peer tutoring.
Provide class notes for students with writing difficulties or
Utilize picture cues and visual maps.
For some students it may be helpful to have students
monitor their progress over time using a graph
To do this students would total their “points”
received on their self monitoring system at the end of
They would then chart their progress for that day
Bowman-Perrott, L. J., Greenwood, C. R., & Tapia, Y. (2007). The Efficacy of CWPT Used in
Secondary Alternative School Classrooms with Small Teacher/Pupil Ratios and Students with
Emotional and Behavior Disorders, Education and Treatment of Children, 30 (3), 65-87.
De I’Etoile, S. K. (2005). Teaching Music to Special Learners: Children with Disruptive Behavior
Disorders. Music Educators Journal, 91 (5), 37-43.
Gilles, D. L. & Smith, S. W. (2003). Using Key Instructional Elements to Systematically Promote
Social Skill Generalization for Students with Challenging Behavior. Intervention in School and
Clinic, 37 (1), 30-37.
Groves, J. E. (2006). Art as a Behavior Modification Tool. Multicultural Education, 13 (4), 55-7.
Haukaas, P. M. (2003). Tranquil Light. Retrieved from
Hunter, A. D., & Johns, B. H. (2006). Students with Emotional and/or Behavior Disorders. In B.
Gerber & D. Guay (Eds.), Reaching and Teaching Students with Special Needs through Art
(pp.43-60). Reston, VA: National Art Education Association.
Nash, D. (1998). Mango Light. Retrieved from
Rizza, M. & Morrison, W. (2003). Uncovering Stereotypes and Identifying Characteristics of
Gifted Students and Students with Emotional/Behavioral Disabilities. Reoper Review, 25 (2),
Young, J. (2006). Water Lillies. Retrieved from