How can Ms. Rollison determine what behaviors she should address and when she should address them?
Page 5: Phase 3–Agitation
The Agitation Phase is often rather long. In general, behavior is unfocused. Some students demonstrate agitation by increasing behaviors such as darting their eyes or tapping their hands, moving in and out of groups, and starting and stopping activities. In contrast, other students decrease movement by disengaging from groups, staring off into space, or lowering their involvement in instructional activities. Both are evidence that they have disconnected from the learning experience.
It is imperative that teachers identify and interrupt the acting-out cycle during, or preferably before, the Agitation Phase. If the cycle is not stopped, student behavior will likely increase to more severe forms of behavior such as verbal and physical aggression.
Listen now as Kathleen Lane explains more about how a teacher can interrupt the acting-out cycle during the Agitation Phase (time: 1:50).
Kathleen Lane, PhD
Professor of Special Education
University of Kansas
Let’s take one more look at the video of Mark, but without the sound, so that you can focus on his and his fellow students’ behaviors (time: 0:43).
- What are some indicators that Mark has entered the Agitation Phase?
- Are any of the other students in the room displaying signs of agitation?
- Is there anything the teacher could have done to intervene at this phase of the cycle?
What are some indicators that Mark has entered the Agitation phase?
Mark’s slouched body posture, facial expressions, and head shaking while the teacher is giving directions all indicate that he is not engaged in the lesson.
Are any of the other students in the room displaying signs of agitation?
Although not as disconnected, the girl in the right corner looks distracted. She rests her head on her hand, looks around the room, taps her pencil. Although she may be experiencing the same frustration or boredom as Mark, her behavior never escalates.
Is there anything the teacher could have done to intervene at the Trigger phase of this cycle?
Remember, “The very best discipline plan is a good lesson plan.” A more engaging lesson could prevent agitation, as could the use of both contingent and noncontingent attention (discussed earlier in this module). Because Mark is not the only student disengaged, a shift in the lesson would be appropriate.
Although a good comprehensive behavior management plan can prevent many problems in the classroom, it is not enough. A good lesson plan prevents misbehaviors that are responses to boredom or frustration. Finally, knowing how to intervene at the early phases of the cycle can de-escalate problem behaviors.
Any attempt to intervene during Agitation should be made at the beginning of this phase. Otherwise, these strategies might actually cause the behaviors to escalate toward the next phase—Acceleration.