Proactive Behavior Management Strategies & Techniques for Classrooms

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Teachers use proactive behavior management strategies and techniques to minimize problem behaviors from occurring. Teachers who utilize these proactive behavior management strategies spend more classroom time on high quality and meaningful instruction rather than constant interruptions due to behaviors that need correcting. 

Clean, Organized Classroom

A clean and organized classroom is so important for students because children thrive in an organized space. It will help create a more calm and controlled environment. Teachers should make sure that every space in their room has a purpose and is organized. Teachers need to be aware of blindspots in the room that they cannot see because that is a place where misbehavior can occur. 

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Individual Greetings and Affirmation Statements 

A great proactive management strategy is to greet students at the door of the building or classroom with a handshake and words of affirmation. Some schools have staff members posted at the entrance doors every morning to greet students when they enter the building as well as the expectation that students are greeted at the door by their teachers for each class. Teachers can customize their greeting with personalized handshakes for each student and use different affirmation statements. Teachers can even set a quick goal with their students for the day before they enter the classroom and check in on that goal after class. Starting the day and class off on a positive note will set the tone for the entire class period. 

Relationship Building 

Teachers should work to build authentic relationships with students and their families. Having a relationship and knowing students’ likes, dislikes, family dynamics, sports and extracurricular activities they are interested and involved in will help teachers better motivate students in school. Students are more likely to behave and follow directions because of that mutual respect built with the teacher.

Classroom Culture Building Activities/Community Circles

Classroom culture building activities help students get to know and respect each other as individuals which will help to proactively combat bullying and teasing behavior between peers. During community circles, teachers can teach SEL curriculum, read books on character education, play relationship building games, and can model how to describe emotions and how to appropriately manage behaviors and solve problems. 

Predictable Classroom Routines 

Students thrive with consistency. Teachers should create clear and predictable routines so students know how the classroom should function. When the class structure changes often or feels rushed, it could trigger students and cause behavior issues and anxiety. Posting the class schedule or routine, and using cues like a bell, timers, countdowns, or a visual aid to show what comes next for students are great proactive strategies to allow them time to finish their task and prepare for the next step or routine.

Consistent Classroom Expectations for all Students

Just like with routines listed above, classroom expectations should be consistent for all students across the board. Teachers should set clear expectations in their classrooms so students know what to expect and what is expected of them at all times. Students might respond with a negative behavior choice when they notice that some students are held to different standards and expectations. Expectations should be taught, modeled, and practiced frequently.

Teacher Circulation with Identified Hot Spots 

Another great proactive behavior management strategy is teacher circulation. Teachers who sit at the front or back of the classroom and never move around to check on their students will see more behavioral issues. Identifying ‘hot spots’ in your room and the specific students that need academic or behavioral assistance will allow teachers to be more purposeful with their circulation. Teachers should not power walk aimlessly around the room but strategically hit spots and students in their room to support them so the lesson can be executed without major interruptions.

Nonverbal Cues and Reminders

One of the most powerful proactive tools a teacher can utilize in the classroom for behavior management is nonverbal cuing and reminders. First, teachers need to teach and model what their nonverbal cues are or it will be very confusing for students when they start using them out of the blue. Nonverbal cues are powerful when used with purposeful circulation. If a teacher sees a student daydreaming, trying to distract another student, etc, the teacher can move to that student and point to the where the class is on the page to refocus the student. This happens without any words, saves the students from a public correction, gets them right back into learning, and the teacher does not even have to stop speaking to the class as this occurs. 

Teachers can also time a proactive nonverbal cue to remind students of an expectation before the misbehavior usually occurs. For example, if students are having a problem with blurting out their answer instead of raising their hand, as the teacher starts asking a questions, he or she uses one hand to show quiet lips and the other hand raises high in the sky to signal that she expects hands raised and voices off until someone is called to share the answer. The teacher shows these nonverbal cues as the question is being asked and then can use a whole group nonverbal or verbal correction afterwards if needed.

Flexible Seating Charts 

Teachers can be proactive by allowing for a flexible seating chart. Students should know that their seat might be moved, not as a consequence, but because the teacher wants to find the perfect placement for everyone to thrive and be successful. Teachers can also set up a cool-down space where students can sit when they feel overwhelmed or want some solo time to reflect. Teachers can allow students to choose when they want to use the cool-down space to reflect or teachers can suggest it for students proactively before problem behaviors occur.