Behavior Management FAQ

Common Behavior Management
Questions Answered:

To create an effective behavior intervention plan, collect data through observations and interviews to determine the most common behaviors a student exhibits. From the data, determine the most frequent misbehaviors that need to be addressed, such as “Gets out of seat without permission, which can lead to negative peer interactions”. 

Once you’ve determined the two most common misbehaviors, script the replacement, or desired, behaviors that the student should exhibit. For example, “Remain in seat at all times unless given permission to get up by the teacher”. Directly teach and model the behavior for the student and reinforce the behavior through verbal affirmation or incentives.

Create a method to collect behavior data for the student to determine the effectiveness of the behavior intervention plan over time. Data can be collected through various methods, such as using points based trackers, charting merit totals, or recording observational data. 

Successful behavior management strategies provide clear expectations for students and focus on reinforcing positive behaviors to prevent misbehaviors from occurring. Having a classroom management plan that clearly outlines systems and procedures that are implemented consistently can prevent misbehaviors and make it easier to get students back on track.

Even with the best plans, however, undesired behaviors occur. Strategies for addressing the behaviors can vary depending on the type and severity. In choosing redirection and consequence strategies

  • Be fair and consistent. Students are more likely to respond calmly and accept critical feedback when they know what to expect and what is expected of them. 
  • Choose the least invasive redirection or consequence possible to minimize emotional escalation or further misbehavior. Less invasive behavior management strategies include positive narration, nonverbal redirections, and increased teacher proximity.
  • Acknowledge when a behavior is successfully adjusted. Positively affirming a student who uses feedback to correct a behavior promotes a growth mindset and balances the negative experience of receiving a redirection or a consequence.

Choosing a behavior intervention is a skill that is developed through practice and experience. Behavior interventions work best when a teacher chooses interventions that are responsive to the unique personalities and needs of the students s/he teaches. Behavior interventions vary in complexity and invasiveness, ranging from nonverbal cues to isolation from peers.

The least invasive intervention strategies are nonverbal cues—silent signals that remind a student of class expectations and provide an opportunity to fix the behavior. These cues are most appropriate for behaviors that are not actively disruptive or unsafe or for students who are triggered when redirected in front of peers. Nonverbal signals include strategies like hand signals, holding up colored post-its, and increasing teacher proximity to a student

Verbal redirections serve the same purpose as nonverbal cues but are slightly more invasive as they briefly stop instruction and can single out a student. Verbal cues can address the student directly or the class as whole. They include strategies like positive narration, restating an expectation, giving a directive, and simply saying a student’s name.

If less invasive strategies aren’t effective or the behavior is more severe, then consequences are needed. Consequences can and should differ to match the behavior. At times, a consequence like a demerit or moving down a color may be all that is needed to stop a behavior. Other times, the behavior breaks culture in a more significant way and requires a more significant consequence, like removal from peers to a timeout area or an administrator’s office.

Logical consequences are a way to maintain fairness and consistency in the implementation of interventions. Logical consequences attempt to match behavior and consequence more directly. For example, if a student writes on a bathroom wall, then s/he could clean the bathrooms or the classroom as a reminder of the work that goes into keeping a school building clean for everyone.

For students that consistently don’t respond to interventions and need an individualized plan, a behavior intervention plan should be created. These plans directly address target behaviors and involve methods, such as peer or teacher mentors, check-in/check-out systems, built in breaks throughout the day, and other calming and accountability strategies that curb misbehaviors. 

Behavior journals can be a successful behavior management strategy for students who enjoy writing and prefer a quiet, isolated activity in order to deescalate their emotions. When using a behavior journal as a management tool, it is important to set clear expectations for the use of the journal and make those expectations explicit for the student. Consider questions like “How long does the student have for journaling before s/he must participate in class again?” and “Should the student stay at an assigned desk to write or is there a cool down area available for journal time?”

It is important to remember that any behavior management strategy will work only for a certain percentage of students. Successful classroom management plans anticipate diverse needs among students and provide a menu of options for de-escalation and emotional regulation. 

When creating a behavior intervention plan, it is best practice to include all stakeholders in the process. Involving the student, teachers, parents, coaches, and other important staff (i.e. bus drivers) increases investment and encourages faithful implementation of the plan. 

Gathering info from multiple sources also provides data about the student’s behaviors across various settings, like the classroom, home, and school bus, which is helpful in determining the most important behaviors to target. A target behavior should happen frequently and across various settings to be addressed in an intervention plan. 

A strong intervention plan targets only two to three behaviors at any given time. Focusing on a couple of key behaviors makes the plan more manageable for both students and teachers and makes clear a path to success. Once a behavior is mastered, according to collected data, a new target behavior can be added to the plan.

Once a plan is created, all stakeholders should meet to review the plan and be trained on how to collect implementation data. Clear communication about target behaviors, recommended methods for correcting misbehavior, student preferred incentives and rewards, and use of data trackers helps to ensure investment in and faithful implementation of the plan across all components of a student’s day.


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