Here are some strategies for educators to build a culture of trust and respect in their classrooms. Prioritizing proactive interventions creates a supportive environment where students feel valued.


The biggest mistake made in schools when it comes to mitigating behavioral challenges is educators waiting for a situation to escalate before acting. Today’s small problem is tomorrow’s major issue. Offering support, teaching alternative behaviors, and allowing more time or a break from the activity when the student is engaged in disruptive behaviors—like humming loudly—is likely to prevent situations from escalating.

Start with the Basics

Remember that your first goal is to de-escalate the situation. Pick your battles. If a student disrupts the classroom in a major way, it’s not necessarily the right moment to reprimand the student. Calm the situation and address the other issues privately when tensions are not high.

Acknowledge Good Behavior

Don’t forget to focus on the student’s appropriate behavior. Every student does something right every day. Capture those moments!

Reset the Situation

Rather than engage in an unproductive back-and-forth with a student, ask the student if they would like to step outside for five minutes and take a breath of fresh air. A pause can be an extremely effective tactic in getting back on track.

Pay Attention to Your Behavior

Be mindful of your body language and tone of voice. A disapproving look or raised voice can be triggering for a student who is already in a heightened state.


Marisa Crapella

Project Consultant

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