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Good student following others when they make poor choices

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Presenting Behavior:
Please describe the behavior:
Good student, however is a follower when other students make poor choices

How old is the student?
Early Elementary

Where and when does the behavior occur?
Throughout school

Frequency and duration of behavior?
When other students are off task

What does the student get from engaging in the behavior?
Appears to be happy

Relevant health and mental health conditions?
None

Medication side effects?
None

Possible Solutions:
If the students are near one another, definitely try to shift their seats away from one another. If they are friends and like being by one another, than this could be used as a reward for them behaving well and the one student not following. You could develop an intervention with these two students whereby they become accountability partners, earning stars of stickers on a chart for remaining on task for certain periods of time and doing what they are supposed to be doing. This period of time could be half a day, one hour, one day, a week, etc. Depends on how long they can go. You would want to make this a structured intervention where you set up specific expectations, explain it with the students, and then have them practice.

In order for an intervention, like that above, to work, you will need to teach the students alternative or replacement behaviors. You could develop a specific structured and scripted verbal and physical response to replace the bad ones. For example, instead of the student responding to the other one who is trying to get them off task, the student could be taught to use a script like, "Please stop, the teacher wants us to be focused on our work right now. If you cannot focus, I will need to move away from you."

You could create a specific desk where the student could remove themself to. Make sure to teach this to the student and have the student practice.

You could set up a reward system just for the good student getting drawn in. An idea is to keep a chart with stickers or stars where the student gets one when they use the script and alternative behavior (moving to the specific desk away from the other student).

You could sit down with the good student being distracted and drawn in and have the student develop 3 strategies to write down and post in the class and at their desk. When the other student begins to do something that is distracting or going to get the student in trouble, the student could choose one of the 3 strategies to use. You could also remind the student to choose a strategy and to use it before they get carried away. This would be like a verbal cue to the student that they are getting into the bad following behavior.

You might consider doing a mini lesson with the whole class on how to be a good leader, specifically hitting on the points this student needs in a covert manner that seems directed toward everyone. Make sure to include scenarios and role plays so the students can practice the skills of being a good and responsible leader.

It may be helpful to the student to develop a cue that only the two of you know. This cue could be raising eyebrows, tapping on your head, folding your hands, etc. You could also use a verbal cue of some kind. You would explain to the student ahead of time what your concern is with them, what the cue is, and how that when you give the cue, you are seeing the student get off task and follow into bad behavior. The expectation would be that when you use the cue to let the student know you see this happening, they are to stop what they are doing, tell the student distracting them they need to focus on their work, and move to another desk. Or whatever you might decide the procedure should be. This cue could be used in all settings as well. At lunch, recess, etc. All the staff dealing with the student would need to learn the cue and know the whole intervention.

If these are students that interact a lot at recess and unstructured times, you might speak with both of them right before each unstructured time, reminding them if they lead of follow into trouble, they will lose their free time for the rest of the day or for the next day. You could also include that if they are well behaved and do not get into trouble together, they will get to play a game on the computer for the last 5 minutes at the end of the day.

I suggested making the two students accountability partners. If the student causing the other to get off task is not likely to participate in an accountability partnership, you could instead choose a different student in the class who is a well behaved student with good leadership skills and make this student the accountability partner to the student who is following into trouble. You would want to take these two students aside and explain it to them and how you want the one to help the other not follow into trouble. The two students could work together to develop a cue they will use to remind the student they are following into trouble, and then they could come up with 3 strategies the student could use to keep from being a follower into trouble. You might have to help them think of 3 strategies or they may come up with some good ones on their own. Strategies could be like the previously mentioned one, that the student moves to a different predetermined desk away from the distracting student.

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