Understanding the 7 Phases of the Acting-Out Cycle
The acting-out cycle is a theory that seeks to explain how student behavior escalates and operates from beginning to end. It has seven phases, during which the teacher’s job is to be proactive and keep the behavior from manifesting or try to intervene once a problem behavior starts to manifest itself.
Understanding the phases of the acting-out cycle and responding early on in the cycle will help prevent disruption of the teaching and learning process. Want to learn more about the phases of the acting-out cycle? Don’t worry; we have you covered. In this short piece, we discuss the 7 phases of the acting-out cycle and what teachers need to know to provide timely interventions.
- Calm Phase
The first phase of the acting-out behavior cycle, during which student behavior is characterized as goal-directed, compliant, cooperative, and academically engaged. Students are responsive to teacher praise and are willing to work with peers.
- Triggers Phase
The third part of the acting-out behavior cycle, student misbehavior, can be triggered by an issue that is left to fester. Such concerns can take place either during or after the school day.
- Agitation Phase
The third part of the acting-out behavior cycle, during which students manifest a variety of sometimes contradictory seeming behaviors. Some students might dart their eyes, tap their fingers, or start and stop their activities, whereas others disengage, stare off into space, or diminish their involvement in the classroom.
- Acceleration Phase
The fourth stage of the acting-out behavior cycle, during which a student exhibits an increase in the frequency of problem behavior. However, the acceleration phase falls in the middle of the acting-out behavior cycle; it is often when many teachers first recognize that a problem is occurring.
- Peak Phase?
The fifth stage in the acting-out behavior cycle, during which a student’s behavior is clearly out of control, students may physically assault others, hurt themselves, cry hysterically, and destroy property—any of which may produce devastating outcomes.
- De-escalation Phase
The sixth part of the acting-out behavior cycle in which a student exits the Peak Phase confused, disoriented, and at a reduced level of agitation. Many students will withdraw, deny any responsibility, blame others, or attempt to reconcile with those they harmed or offended. Even though students will probably not want to discuss the incident, they are often responsive to directions.
- Recovery Phase
The seventh and final phase of the acting-out behavior cycle during which students are generally subdued and may still want to avoid talking about the Peak incident. Teachers often incorrectly think that they will re-trigger the misbehavior if they try to debrief the student. Not only is this erroneous, but it is also the case that not talking about the situation with the student can unintentionally reinforce the behavior.