|dc.description.abstract||Children displaying high levels of externalizing problems (like aggression) have been found to be prone to a large number of school adjustment difficulties. It has been argued that children’s problem behavior do not only negatively impact upon their own developmental outcomes, but can also have negative consequences for the teacher (Hammarberg, 2003). These consequences leads to an inability of teachers to manage behavior problems in the classroom, which is rated the most serious problem facing teachers (U.S. Department of Education, 2005) and the quality of teachers’ interactions with students in the classroom is increasingly acknowledged as a major importance for students’ success in school.
Based on the international research about the serious consequences challenging behavior can have for children’s learning and development, this study was planned to exam, analyze, and discuss teachers’ approaches towards middle school children with challenging behavior in Honduras. Both, what appeared to influence the way that teachers relate to a child with challenging behavior, and how teachers’ actions affect their students’ emotional and behavioral reactions and academic performances were examined.
A broad perspective of central theoretical perspectives for understanding students’ challenging behavior within school settings was chosen in analyzing the research questions (Schokoff & Phillips, 2000; Hallahan & Kaufman, 2005; Befring, 2001). The etiology of challenging behavior was examined from biological and environmental perspectives (Dodge, 1991). Social-learning theory (Bandura, 1977) was, especially, emphasized because of its relevance for understanding learning and behavior modification. The importance of relations and interaction with regards to children’s development and learning was also focused upon (Ajzen, 2002).
The research study was conducted in two schools and four classrooms in the city of San Pedro Sula, Honduras. Qualitative methods consisting of two months of observations of both teacher and students’ behaviors inside the classroom setting and interviews with teachers was used to investigate the research questions. Four teachers and four students participated in the study. The children were from age 9-12. They had multiple social and emotional problems of both externalizing and internalizing character. In addition they had disorders as Tourette syndrome, ADHD, OC, epilepsy and specific learning disabilities. The teachers (one male/ three females) varied in their educational background and experience; only one teacher was fully qualified.
From the interviews with the teachers, it became evident the teachers felt distressed, knowing that their students have problems, but feeling unable to do little about them. Trying to teach children who are chronically unhappy or driven to aggressive, antisocial behavior was disturbing to them. The results, further, indicated that when challenging behavior appeared in the classroom, the teachers’ feelings of inadequacy, frustrations, negative attitudes and assumptions towards their students emerged. These phenomena and other external factors (as cultural expectations for acceptable behavior, lack of teachers’ insight and lack of support and counseling) influenced the way teachers saw the student and therefore, the way they behaved towards them. The two students with behavior considered very negative by their teacher maintained consistent challenging behavior, attention problems and learning difficulties. They showed low frustration tolerance, and unconstructive work habits. On the other hand, the two students with behavior that was understood by their teachers performed better academically, had better social skills, exerted more control over emotions and had a better relationship with the teacher and classmates. These students were given adapted curriculums and teaching. The behavioral modification methods (reinforcing positive behavior, using token economy and time out in a secure setting) were perceived as positive by these two students.
In school, children with challenging behavior are at risk for developing academic problems as increasing classroom disengagement and underachievement (Ladd & Burgess, 2001) as well as social difficulties (Ladd, 2003). This study, however, indicates that the teachers that were able to maintain harmonious relationships with their students and adapt their teaching were somewhat able to minimize the risks and maximize learning for their students (Ladd, Herald, & Kochel, 2006).||eng