How the Brain Influences Behavior: Strategies for Managing K?12 Classrooms

How the Brain Influences Behavior: Strategies for Managing K?12 Classrooms

by David A. Sousa


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Combining theory and practice, David A. Sousa helps educators understand what is happening in the brains of students with behavior problems and offers practical, effective intervention strategies compatible with current findings in neuroscience.

In easy-to-understand language, the author presents current information on brain development and function and highlights factors that affect social and emotional decision-making and negative behaviors like impulsivity, defiance, and violence. Comprehensive yet concise, this guide for K–12 teachers and counselors provides methods for teaching self-control and fostering positive relationships with troubled students and provides case studies that match effective strategies with specific behaviors.

Educators will find answers to critical questions such as:
How does the rate of brain development explain erratic behavior of adolescents?
What type of data collection can help teachers manage misbehavior?
Can peer influence help curb misbehavior rather than encourage it?
Why are boys more likely to misbehave than girls and what can teachers do about it?
How do school and classroom climates affect student behavior?

This invaluable handbook also features reproducible forms, worksheets, checklists, additional references, and an expanded list of primary research sources to help teachers understand and apply research-based principles for classroom and behavior management.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781632206848
Publisher: Skyhorse
Publication date: 03/10/2015
Pages: 264
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

David A. Sousa is an international consultant in educational neuroscience and author and is a member of the Cognitive Neuroscience Society. Dr. Sousa has a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Bridgewater State University, a Master of Arts in Teaching degree in science from Harvard University, and a doctorate from Rutgers University. He has been an adjunct professor of education at Seton Hall University and a visiting lecturer at Rutgers University. Dr. Sousa has been interviewed by Matt Lauer on NBC's Today Show and by National Public Radio about his work with schools using brain research. He makes his home in Palm Beach, Florida.

Table of Contents

About the Author ix

Acknowledgments xi

Introduction 1

Are Behavior Problems on the Rise? 1

Can Neuroscience Help? 1

About This Book 3

Questions This Book Will Answer 4

Chapter Contents 4

Other Helpful Tools 6

Chapter 1 Handing Social Misbehavior 7

The Social and Emotional Brain 7

Emotional Processing 8

Pathways of Emotional Signals 13

What Leads to Social Misbehavior? 15

The Teacher is the Key 17

Interventions for Handling Social Misbehavior 18

Dealing With Social Anxieties 18

Using Social Stories to Modify Behavior 20

A Case Study: Using a Social Story for a Verbally Aggressive Student 22

A Social Story for Angry Students 26

Summary 29

Chapter 2 Dealing with Impulsive Behavior 31

What Leads to Impulsivity and Violent Behavior 31

Genetic Variations 31

Prenatal Exposure to Cocaine 32

Cerebral Lesions 33

An Important Word About Testosterone 34

Ignorance of Rules of Behavior 35

Some Strategies for controlling Impulsive Behavior 35

Cognitive and Cognitive-Behavioral Interventions 35

Putting Impulsive Problem Behavior in a Social Context 38

Using Picture Books to Curb Impulsive Anger of Anxiety 38

Other Suggested Strategies 42

Summary 43

Chapter 3 Teaching Self-Control Through Self-Verbalization 45

Examining Self-Control 45

What Is Self-Control? 45

Are Children Learning Self-Control? 46

Brain Structures for Self-Control 46

Do Mirror Neurons Play a Role in Self-Control? 47

Losing Self-control 48

Helping Students Regain Self-control 50

Verbal Self-Control of Aggressive, Defiant, or Other Behavior 51

The Power of Self-Talk 51

The Zipper Strategy 52

"Say No and Walk Away" to Resist Peer Pressure 56

Self-Control Through Self-Talk and Self-Monitoring 57

The Nature of Attention 57

Self-Monitoring for Other Problems Behaviors 64

Self-Control Through Self-Rating of Emotional Intensity 65

The Anger Thermometer 65

Summary 66

Chapter 4 Managing the Behavior of Boys 67

Why a Concern With Boys? 67

Gender Differences in Behavior 67

Genetic and Environmental Factors 68

Impact of Biology 69

Some Research Findings on Behavioral Differences 72

Using Research-Based Strategies 73

Movement-Based Instruction and Classroom Management 73

Boy-Friendly Instruction and Discipline 77

The Responsibility Strategy 81

And What About Girls? 87

The Rise of Cyberbullying 88

Bullying Versus Cyberbullying 88

Dealing With Cyberbullying 90

Summary 91

Chapter 5 Building Positive Relationships with Troubled Student 93

Relationships and Research 93

Insights From Neuroscience 94

Some Research Findings 95

Developing Teacher-Student Relationships 98

The Importance of Positive Relationships With and For Students 98

Reaching Unreachable Students With Dialogue Journals 100

The Lunch Bunch: An Educator's Idea 104

Managing Serious Behavior Problems Through Adult Meatoring 105

Summary 114

Chapter 6 Using Peer Relationships to Modify Behavior 115

Examining Peer Relationships 115

Dealing With Peer Influence: A Two-Edged Sword 116

The Desire to Be Liked 118

Peer-Mediated Behavior Management Strategies 119

Peer-Mediated Anger Management 119

Factors to Consider in Peer Mediation 120

Peer Confrontation to Curb Misbehavior 124

The Mystery Motivator/Mystery Character Intervention to Decrease Inappropriate Behavior 129

Group Contingency Interventions 131

Summary 135

Chapter 7 Managing Oppositional Behavior 137

What Is Oppositional Behavior? 137

Causes of Oppositional Behavior 137

Student With Oppositional Behavior in the Classroom 139

Teacher Knowledge of Oppositional Behavior 140

TeacherFrustration and Countercontrol 141

Defiant Student: Explosions Waiting to Happen 144

Avoiding Triggers for Misbehavior in the classroom 147

Teaching Student to Relax 149

Other Strategies 154

What About Oppositional Defiant Disorder? (ODD) 155

Development of ODD 156

Treatment of ODD 156

Summary 157

Chapter 8 Developing Positive Self-Esteem 159

The Nature of Self-Esteem 159

The Power of Self-Esteem 160

Research on Self-Esteem 161

Guidelines for Building Self-Esteem 164

Building a New Perspective on the Troubled Student: The Strength-Based Assessment 165

What Is Strength-Based Assessment? 165

Motivation and Attribution Retraining 168

Motivation Research and Attribution Theory 168

The "Shine My Light" Strategy 174

Summary 178

Chapter 9 Putting it All Teacher 179

Educational Climate: Are We Happy Here? 179

What is Classroom Climate? 179

The Biology of Happiness 180

Successful Behavior Management in the Classroom 183

Assessing Classroom Climate 184

Classroom Management and Cultural Diversity 188

Guidelines for Managing Diverse classes 189

Positive Behavioral Supports in the classroom 191

what Are Positive Behavioral Supports? 191

The Functional Assessment of Behavior 193

The Behavioral Improvement Plan 193

Multitiered Interventions and the Student Support Team 195

Summary 202

Conclusion 203

Appendix 205

Glossary 223

References 227

Resources 241

Index 247

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