EBPs in School Classrooms: Have you encountered any special challenges?

Most of you deliver evidence-based programs in school classrooms, often in health education classes. I am interested in exploring to what degree you encounter behavior challenges during programming. As I have heard from many of you, classroom management can be an issue. Naturally, classroom behavior can be impacted by many external factors such as the structure and control provided by the regular teacher, as well as school climate and organization–but sometimes the issues may arise from personal challenges that students are facing.

I would like to hear from you how often you think you have students in the class who are not participating or engaging because of special needs. Students who are very withdrawn or anxious, struggle with impulse control and attention, or have a tough time comprehending specific program activities may be coping with disabilities. Is this a common occurrence outside of special education classes? And what specific behavior challenges do you experience?

Depending on your responses, we may want to form a learning collaborative that could take a stab at developing strategies and adaptations to enable these students to participate and engage.

What has your experience been? Let us know in the comments.

  – Jutta

6 thoughts on “EBPs in School Classrooms: Have you encountered any special challenges?”

  1. I have noticed that more of the behaviors that arise from students who have or are dealing with some sort of trauma/challenges personally. Most of the time Teachers are there to support us in maintaining a healthy, respectful learning environment for all the students. It has not occured often where there has been to much disruption to the point where it is too difficult to facilitate the curriculum. I can only think of one instance thus far that we faced, where two students were in one class together with challenging behaviors. There were multiple contributing factors to that, for one the teacher that was responsible for them was a long term-sub filling in as the school counselor. She was overseeing the schools Second Step Program, predominately students that were considered to be at risk, who were referred to the group or voluntary signed up. The two students specifically gave the Sub a hard time, but we also learned they were each facing many changes in their home life. Their behaviors were loud outburst, and foul language. It seemed to be more for attention and to get a reaction from the adults and peers. The Teacher at one time asked them to remove themselves until they could control themselves and stop their laughter and outlandish remarks. At that point they regrouped and joined us for the remainder of the curriculum. I think as professionals in this field we always have to keep in mind that, these challenging students have challenges themselves and are not always acting out to act out there may be and underlying issue and that should be our first approach when trying to engage with them. Any time we have had students that have special needs or disabilities typically the Teacher informs us ahead of time, so we are prepared to facilitate accordingly nor will we be shocked by anything that may occur.

  2. We have a number of challenges:
    1. Completing the program sessions with fidelity in 40 minutes, especially when there are young people who have further questions about the material you are presenting–even “teachable moments” need to be rushed through. It is very frustrating.
    2. Doing a condom demonstration when the school you are in allows students to keep their cell phones on them. Both the teachers and the facilitators are always watching to make sure no one is taking pictures. Once, one of our teachers flew out of the classroom and came back with a student who had taken a picture through the window in the classroom door. She wasn’t even in the class!
    3. We work with some very creative and caring teachers. One in particular came up with a new way to present the role-plays so that she could be absolutely sure that ALL of her students knew the information and not just those volunteering. While it was a bit frustrating for the facilitators, we liked it so much we are going to work on adding it to our Master Adaptation List for approval!
    4. If you are in a high school where you need to change classrooms, depending on how far away each classroom is, it is difficult to set up and get everything done–again in 40 minutes.
    5. Students who are “friends” with teachers and get special privileges that none of the other students have can sometimes make it difficult for facilitators.

  3. When I go out to each there was always a teacher present from the school to deal with classroom management if needed be. One specific school has been challenging because although there is a teacher present the kids can not seem to get it together in term of behavior, so in turn it makes it super difficult to get through the material. There are some class days, where I cannot get through half of the lesson because there is a constant issue with class management. The teacher seems to try his best, but more than I like too I would have to step in to help with the class. My first day starting the program at a school, I had a student call me the ‘B’ word and threaten to smack me because I tried to quite the class down and asked him to take a sit. The teacher did not seem to find it out of control, and I decided to send him out the classroom. After this incident, the kid only showed up to one more class and it did not seem like his attendance was forced by administration. Challenges like attendance and class behavior has affected the way I taught the classes. It is hard to do things exactly like described in the Be Proud Be Responsible book when the class behavior is so bad we cannot get through the material or they cannot even handle doing an activity, which will force me to skip the activity. Teachers will openly admit if the class is difficult to deal with but it will clearly show they do not have a handle on the issue leaving us to decide how would we implement the program in an effective manner.

    1. Chabeli – I too have had the same challenges, however I make a point to discuss with the teacher before the class starts that she will be in charge of class management. Only a few times have I had to stop and wait for side conversations to be addressed by the classroom teacher. This has worked for me. I have yet to be in a more challenging environment as you have shared.

  4. I think class room management is a huge concern when we go teach the curriculum. Teachers do remain in the classroom but if the classroom is already struggling with behavior, I feel the teacher doesn’t do much to help the situation. I have also encountered real bad classroom behavior in a school to the point that it hinders the education. A module might take 2- 45 minute classes to get through because the students won’t settle down. Also there are certain activities that might have to be skipped because it is impossible to get through them with the type of behavior that the students display. Behavior challenges that I have experience have been; disrespecting me and my co-workers using cuss words. A lot of the classrooms that I’ve seen with this behavior tend to constantly hit one another, curse each other out, start arguing over nothing with one another, impulsive behaviors. These classrooms that I’m talking about are not considered a special needs classroom. I’ve also taught with a special needs class and their behavior was 2x better than that of a regular classroom.

  5. Classroom management has always been a challenge in our district but seem to have gotten worse. I think this is due to a combination of many things
    1. The culture within the school – in our district there is constant turnover and currently there is a shortage of health teachers. With the weekly rotation of adults in 1 classroom and 30+ students with varying needs, it is hard to establish a healthy learning environment.
    2. New educators- we went from having seasoned educators, who have been working with the schools and the EBPs, for 5+ years to an entirely new team and we are currently building their tool kit of tricks.
    3. Trauma- as mentioned above, we have students dealing with or suppressing trauma and are disengaged or display disruptive behavior as a way to cope.
    4. Adults- when the “gatekeeper” is against the work we are doing it can sabotage the environment and we have to find creative ways to work around and educate the person who is primarily teaching them and has built a relationship.
    I am still finding that schools are either seeing us a relief staff, a burden or they are extremely supportive.

    Another note- the presentation on how Sex-ed is failing our boy’s really spoke to my team and I- I would love to talk about ways to improve the EBP to help or how programs change things up to be purposeful in delivering the EBP to all make groups or co-ed groups

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