Kids do well if they can. SpEd Inquiry Devie Amundsen

My Question: How can I best support students with behavioral challenges in my classroom.

Challenging behavior can be similar to ODD Oppositional Defiant Disorder where the child refuses to do what is asked of him/her. The challenging behavior typically interferes with the students learning, development, and peer interaction. They can pose harm to other students, teachers and even themselves.

John Doe had a terrible upbringing and his past is likely the cause of his behavior. He frequently yells, screams, swears and defies the teachers, refuses to follow rules, throws things and bangs his head against the wall.

Working with John was a daily challenge for me. Some of the strategies that I found were successful were building trust, showing empathy,  bringing his interests into the classroom, giving him frequent breaks ie. (first this then that, work first, break second) Some of my strategies that we not as successful were using a token economy, breathing techniques and natural consequences.

To meet these challenges I have realized the importance of working as a team with the principal, Councillor and resource teacher. I have also realized that typical consequences do not work for kids like John.  His problems are much deeper than many other children and he needs to know first and foremost that you are there for him and he can trust you before any progress will be made. YOU AND THE CHILD NEED TO BE ON THE SAME TEAM.

I have learned a lot about myself through this experience. Any successful educator must have patience, empathy, and must put the child’s needs first.  Maslow’s hierarchy of needs was reinforced to me during my experience working with John.  Even though we all have individual differences we all have the same basic needs: to feel safe and to feel loved. If these needs are not being met that we will not be able move up the hierarchy and achieve our potential.

Kids do well if they can and I believe that there is always and underlying issue causing the challenging behavior. The best thing we can do is to take a step back from the curriculum and just get to know the student and try our best to get to the root of the problem. It is a struggle but its worth it.

The Book “Lost at School” by Ross W. Greene was an amazing resources that helped me to achieve success.

By: Devie Amundsen, Email:, Twitter @DevieRose13




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