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Behavior management strategies of the severely emotionally disturbed

30 May 1997


The purpose of this qualitative study is to gather data on the behavior management strategies that are currently employed in a classroom for Severely Emotionally Disturbed students, and to draw conclusions about the specific strategies used, the manner in which they are enforced, and the potential for using them successfully in a mainstream classroom. My research is strengthened by the instructor that was observed in the Severely Emotionally Disturbed classroom, and his reliance on the work of Dr. Richard Curwin. Dr. Curwin is the author of Discipline With Dignity and promotes a supportive learning environment that encourages responsibility and not obedience. This study took place in a large rural high school located in the Pacific Northwest. The participants are students that attend the Learning Center within the high school for their daily classes. These students are Severely Emotionally Disturbed, and state-labeled LevelS. Some are mainstreamed for a few periods a day, others remain in the Learning Center for the duration of each school day. Information was gathered through observations of the interactions between the students and their instructor, and through interviews with the Learning Center instructor and a mainstream teacher. The anonymity of all participants has been protected by the use of pseudonyms. This study provided me with the specific strategies that are used in a Severely Emotionally Disturbed classroom, and the rationale behind each and every action the instructor takes. The intense education of this special education instructor has given him the tools to be an advocate for each of his students, ensuring that their right to an education is fulfilled. These behavior management strategies would be a challenge to the less-trained mainstream teacher, but an effort to implement them may be greatly rewarded.


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