6 Effective Verbal Intervention Strategies

May 29, 2014
Hands clasped together

A recent study indicates that verbal intervention skills are essential to effective classroom management.
Data gleaned from the study’s surveys reveals that verbal intervention training plays a role in helping teachers feel more confident in managing student behaviours such as shouting out, disrespect, refusal, and engaging in power struggles.  
Do you need safe, respectful, and effective verbal intervention strategies to use in your classroom? Put these six tips to use to prevent challenging behavior from escalating.

1. Remain Calm.

Keep in mind that when a student is verbally escalating, she’s beginning to lose control. If she senses that you’re losing control too, the situation will escalate. Try to stay cool, even when the student challenges, insults, or threatens you.

2. Keep it Simple.

Be clear, direct, and respectful in your message. Because an escalating student may be too preoccupied to hear many words, avoid giving complex choices.

3. Watch Your Body Language.

Be aware of your posture and gestures, and be sure to give the student you’re intervening with enough personal space. Make sure that your nonverbal behaviour is as respectful and nonthreatening as your spoken words.

4. Use Silence.

Ironically, using silence is one of the most effective verbal intervention techniques. Silence on your part allows the student to clarify and restate his viewpoint. This can lead you to a clearer understanding of the true source of his conflict.

5. Use Reflective Questioning. 

Paraphrase and restate what you think the student is saying. This will help her clarify her meaning. And by repeating or reflecting the student’s words in the form of a question, you’ll help her gain valuable insight.

6. Watch Your Paraverbals.

wo identical statements can have opposite meanings—depending on the tone, volume, and cadence of your voice. Make sure your vocal inflection is consistent with the words you use. This will help you avoid sending the student a double message.

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