How do you develop an effective behavior management plan?
Page 5: Procedures
In addition to creating rules, effective teachers develop procedures–the steps required for the successful and appropriate completion of a number of daily routines and activities. Procedures are particularly important for routines and activities that are less structured and during which disruptive behavior is more likely to occur (e.g., morning arrival, dismissal).
Rule number one: Keep it simple. Teachers should develop easy-to-follow procedures for only those routines and activities for which it is necessary. Excessive or cumbersome procedures can be confusing and counterproductive. To help determine whether a procedure is warranted, teachers can consider the questions in the table below.
|Why||is this procedure needed?|
|Where||is this procedure needed?|
|What||is the procedure?
are the steps for successful completion of the procedure?
|Who||needs to be taught this procedure?
will teach this procedure?
|When||is this procedure needed?
will the procedure be taught?
will the procedure be practiced?
|How||will you recognize procedure compliance?|
Following are some common elementary routines or activities that might benefit from procedures. Click on the links below to view sample steps for each.
For Your Information
As you might expect, different teachers and grade levels will have different classroom procedures. Additionally, the way in which the procedures are written and the need for visual cues may vary. Regardless, these should be realistic and age-appropriate. Primary students benefit from brief statements and visual supports. Intermediate students typically need only a list of written procedures.
For best results, write each procedure in the form of a numeric list indicating the correct sequence of steps.
It’s important to remember that although certain procedures might work in some classrooms, they may need to be changed or modified in others. It’s completely normal (and recommended) to adapt a procedure to best meet your needs and the needs of your students.
Listen as Andrew Kwok discusses developing procedures that are culturally responsive or sustaining.
Andrew Kwok, PhD
Assistant Professor, Department of Teaching, Learning, and Culture
Texas A&M University
For Your Information
Throughout the school day there are many transitions, both big (moving from class to class) and small (ending math and starting science). Unplanned or unsuccessful transitions can lead to disruptive behaviors and lost instructional time. Much as when they develop procedures for routines and activities, teachers should provide clear, consistent steps for transitions. Below are some possible steps and examples to help successfully prepare students to transition to the next routine or activity.
||“I need all eyes on me in 5 – 4 – 3 – 2 – 1.” (Hand raised in air, counting down)|
||“In one minute, we will go to lunch.”|
||“When I say ‘start,’ I need everyone to close your notebooks, put everything in your desk, push in your chair, and line up at the door.”|
||“Shelby, will you please repeat my directions?”|
||“Thank you to my students who were silent as they lined up. Unfortunately, a few students were talking. I also see that a few chairs are not pushed in. Please go back to your desks. Let’s try lining up again.”|
The Center on Positive Behavioral Interventions & Supports (PBIS) has developed a guide that recommends teachers use student specific transition signals (e.g., use of home language, call-and-response, song lyrics). This practice ensures that all students’ cultures, lives, and home languages are reflected in the classroom each day.
Keep in Mind
Procedures cannot be taught (and memorized by students) in one day or even one week. Because there are multiple steps required to successfully complete a procedure, learning them takes time and practice. Teachers should review procedures throughout the year, but especially when one or more students are having difficulty following them (e.g., “Remember, our procedure for turning in homework is to put it in the basket.”)
Although developing procedures that appropriately allow students to complete daily routines and activities is an important first step, teaching procedures is critical to the creation of a calm, consistent classroom environment that maximizes instruction and minimizes disruptive behaviors. Below is a list of recommended steps for explicitly teaching classroom procedures:
Step 1: Introduce — Outline the steps necessary to successfully complete a routine or activity.
Step 2: Discuss — Talk about why the procedures are important (e.g., to make sure everyone has the supplies they need at the beginning of a lesson).
Step 3: Model — Demonstrate the procedure using examples and nonexamples. Click here to watch a teacher model and discuss six steps she uses to class have her students line up and walk in the hallway.
Step 4: Practice — Have students practice the steps needed to complete the procedure, prior to the activity or routine.
Step 5: Review — Once you have taught the procedures, frequently review them.
Use behavior-specific praise to positively reinforce students who are successful (e.g., “Sam, thank you for walking on the right side of the hall quietly.”).
Sometimes even the best thought-out procedure does not work as planned, even if it worked with students in previous years. It’s all right and even normal to revise a procedure at any point during the year. If you do, be sure to explicitly teach this revised version to your students, making sure to introduce, discuss, model, and practice it.
Lori Jackman describes thinking about the steps required to successfully perform a procedure (i.e., task analysis) and how procedures should be refined as needed. Next, Melissa Patterson emphasizes the importance of explicitly teaching and practicing classroom procedures at the beginning of the school year.
Lori Jackman, EdD
Anne Arundel County Public Schools, retired
Professional Development Provider
- Classrooms with predictable procedures and routines have lower rates of challenging student behavior.
(Simonsen, Putnam, Yaneck, Evanovich, Shaw, Shuttleton, Morris, & Mitchell, 2020)
- Procedures are most effective when students are explicitly taught how to engage in specific activities and, when necessary, provided with corrective feedback.
(Simonsen, Yanek, Sugai, & Borgmeier, 2020)
- When teachers explicitly teach and model classroom procedures, students are better able to monitor their own behavior, which leads to increased compliance to routines and processes.
(Harbour, Evanovich, Sweigart, & Hughes, 2015; Simonen, Putnam, Yaneck, Evanovich, Shaw, Shuttleton, Morris, & Mitchell, 2020)
Now it is your turn to create some procedures for your classroom setting. You can develop rules for your classroom (current teachers) or for the grade level you hope to teach someday (future teachers). Using the questions outlined in the box at the top of this page—Why? Where? What? Who? When? How? —identify at least three (3) procedures that should be taught to your students to help the classroom run smoother.
Returning to School
Because health and safety protocols may be in place, the school environment will most likely be different from years previous. For this reason, teachers may need to teach their students new school-wide procedures for activities such as eating in the cafeteria, walking in the hallways, going to the bathroom, and being dismissed from school at the end of the day. Additionally, they may need to modify classroom procedures or perhaps create new ones. For example, teachers may require procedures for sanitizing hands or maintaining social distancing while moving about the room. These procedures should be taught, modeled, and practiced repeatedly. To best provide these much-needed supports, elementary teachers should:
- Be familiar with district and school safety protocols.
- Teach new school-wide and classroom procedures for health and safety (e.g., distance between students, maximum number of students in the bathroom, using water fountains only to fill water bottles).
- Ensure that students have their own materials to accommodate new safety protocols (e.g., wearing mask, bringing water bottle).
- If possible, assign socially distant work areas for individual and group activities.
- Work with colleagues to coordinate transitions in common areas such as hallways, bathrooms, gyms, cafeterias, and recreation areas.
Note: Students have been working independently for the past 18 months because of at-home learning and social distancing, so give extra attention to developing, teaching, and reinforcing procedures that require personal interactions (e.g., small-group work, partner activities).