9 Positive Behavior Intervention Strategies that Improve Classroom Behavior


Students don’t always do what is expected of them. But, sometimes, it’s not because they don’t want to behave. It’s because they don’t know what to do. Classroom chaos and inconsistency can trigger anxiety and cause students to misbehave. Having a consistent PBIS program that kids understand builds clarity and eliminates misbehavior that stems from confusion.

Students don’t always do what is expected of them. But, sometimes, it’s not because they don’t want to behave. It’s because they don’t know what to do. Classroom chaos and inconsistency can trigger anxiety and cause students to misbehave. Having a consistent PBIS program that kids understand builds clarity and eliminates misbehavior that stems from confusion.

Strong routines support positive behavior and maximize class time, but it takes commitment to keep them in place. Teachers have to think strategically about what has to be accomplished in every class, develop systems, teach procedures, and practice routines to perfection. This can be challenging because it requires attention to lots of details. But, when students know what to expect during every section of class, they are less likely to get frustrated, distracted and off task.

→  See teachers who have strong classroom systems that will prevent student confusion and increase classroom productivity.

9 PBIS Systems to Use in Your Classroom

System 1: Entering the Classroom

Think about what students need to do when they first get to your class. Having a vision for what being “ready to work” looks like will help you lead students to success.

Clarify your PBIS entrance system by doing this:

  • Make a seating chart. Assigned seats help kids know what to expect and can be changed as often as you are comfortable with.
  • Decide how students will receive classroom materials. You can put the materials on their desks if you have time between classes. Use classroom mailboxes if you have enough for each student, or you can have students grab materials from a bin near the door on their way in.
  • Clarify if you will collect homework or if students leave it in a bin.
  • Identify what items students need on their desks to begin working. Post this on the board or project it.


System 2: Exiting the Classroom

Be just as clear with students about what they need to do to leave the classroom. This will save you time and keep kids focused.

Here are a few ways to perfect your exit PBIS system:

  • Build a system for turning in work. Either collect it or have students put work in a bin near the door on their way out.
  • Pass out homework or have a spot where students can grab it before they go. You can also add it to the materials packet they grabbed when they arrived.
  • Know where students are going next so you can give them enough time and adequate directions. (Keep a schedule posted near where you frequently stand to support you with this.)



System 3: Signals for questions

Students have needs and teachers have limited time and capacity when leading direct instruction. Having hand signals that clarify what a student needs can allow the teacher to know what is needed without having to talk with the student.

Develop and teach signals for when a student has the following needs:  

  • Bathroom break
  • Borrow a pencil
  • Sharpen a pencil
  • Get a tissue


System 4: Bathroom Breaks

Students will have to go to the restroom. Even if you have a strategic schoolwide plan for bathroom breaks, there will still be emergencies. Develop a bathroom pass that students can use when they leave to go to the restroom. If all students go to the restroom in a specific class, develop a routine that clarifies who goes when. For example, use an item that students pass to each other and sit on their desks to signify who is out for a bathroom break.

Additionally, pay attention to students who need to use the restroom more often. This may be a signal that the student needs their own bathroom plan. It is essential that bathroom needs are considered because students may struggle to focus when they are uncomfortable. Consult with the school nurse and parents if this is the case.


System 5: Paper Passing

Distributing or collecting papers can be done quickly by doing it the same way each time. For example, if students are in rows, pass out the stack of papers to the front person in every row, and collect papers the same way. You could even have students in the front row pass the papers over to the last front person.

Developing positive behavior procedures for how students receive materials and turn in work will prevent unnecessary movement in the classroom.


System 6: Volume Expectations

Classrooms don’t have to be silent to be productive. Students may need to talk with their partners to complete group work. Additionally, giving students opportunities to engage in dialogue shows that teachers trust them and believe they are mature enough to work and have positive, productive interactions with their peers.

The key to having any level of conversation in class is clarifying volume expectations.  Explain to students (and practice) how loud their voices should be for every type of classroom talk that may occur. Make sure to clarify when each type of talking is appropriate.

Sometimes, it will be mandatory for students to be silent. Helping students understand why volume levels are necessary will increase their investment in following your PBIS-driven procedures.


System 7: Attention getters

Find ways to ensure students know that you need their attention. Attention getters are essential for transitioning class from one activity to the next. Teachers will need the focus of all students in order to give clear directions. For example, attention getters can be used to transition students from group work to independent work or to get students ready to pack up before leaving the class.

When leading attention getters, consider making it fun. Say one statement and expect that students respond with a statement before silently directing their attention to you for further directions. These could be song lyrics or a phrase that affirms students in the classroom. Additionally, teachers can get students’ attention by developing a special clap.


System 8: Group and Partner Work

When students work together, they should understand what this partnership needs to look like. Students should know who they are working with and what their jobs are. Additionally, think through how students can move their desks or rearrange their bodies to make group work possible. Without clarity, students may engage in unproductive classroom behavior.


System 9: Daily routine

Class should be predictable. Even if you do different types of lessons on special days, like labs, students should know what to do. Ensure that the routine is posted and clarify what each part of the lesson looks like for kids. Students should be able to run the classroom if you are absent. This means they can explain how independent reading works, where they get materials before they complete a science lab, how they log into technology when completing a EDpuzzle, etc.

Teachers have so many things to think about daily. From planning lessons to grading to following up with parents, it can be a lot to remember! Building strong daily procedures that live in the classroom can save teachers time and energy. Most of all, these systems can promote positive behavior and ensure students know what is expected of them throughout the entire class. Make class calm and productive by using systems that promote positive behavior.

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Here at Kickboard we have seen many schools turnaround student behavior by using our PBIS mobile app, web platform, and professional development services to support their classroom systems. Kickboard helps teachers to track student behavior, identify cultural trends, and implement systems to improve behavioral results.