Classroom Behavior Management (Part 2, Elementary): Developing a Behavior Management Plan
Congratulations! You have developed a comprehensive classroom behavior management plan. As you now know, developing a plan takes time and careful consideration. Because of this, it’s important to make the effort to address classroom management before the school year starts.
Remember, developing a classroom management plan requires much more than the creation of rules and procedures. To create an effective plan, teachers also need to:
Understand how cultural beliefs influence the behaviors and actions of both students and teachers
Consider the cultural norms and practices of students when developing all components of the plan
A classroom management plan should be thoughtful, intentional, and contain the core components described in the table below.
Statement of Purpose
A statement of purpose is a positive statement that guides the goals, decisions, and activities in the classroom. It lays the foundation for the classroom management plan.
Rules explicitly state expectations for how students should behave in the classroom. Clear and consistently enforced rules serve as a reminder to motivate students to behave as expected and eventually monitor their own behavior.
Procedures describe the steps required to successfully complete daily routines or activities. Developing and teaching procedures is critical to the creation of a calm, consistent classroom environment that maximizes instruction and minimizes disruptive behaviors.
Positive consequences are a means by which teachers recognize students who follow classroom rules and procedures. These consequences encourage desired behaviors and, in turn, decrease or eliminate unwanted behaviors.
Negative consequences attempt to decrease the probability that an undesired behavior will occur in the future. These consequences should be administered in a consequence hierarchy from least-intrusive (e.g., rule reminder) to most-intrusive (e.g., office referral).
A crisis plan describes the steps needed to address serious behavioral issues. This allows teachers to effectively respond and gain control of crisis situations.
An action plan describes what needs to be done, how it will be done, and when it will be accomplished. By creating action steps, teachers can effectively implement their classroom behavior management plan.
Listen as Michael Rosenberg offers an overview of these components.
Michael Rosenberg, PhD Professor, Special Education, SUNY New Paltz Professor Emeritus, Johns Hopkins University
An effective behavior management plan should make explicit a number of components in order to be effective. What we want to start off with is a statement of purpose or a mission statement, and this is a brief, positive statement that conveys to all of the stakeholders—parents, students, related service personnel—why the various components of the plan are necessary. What we would hope is that this statement is focused, direct, really clearly understood by all involved, and free of educational jargon. We also hope that it would be inspirational, that people see this statement as important because it leads to a positive outcome.
Rules are explicit statements of the expectations for the classroom. When developing these classroom rules, we want teachers to limit them to four or five, not a large number, and make sure that they’re stated positively, that they use simple, specific terms, that they’re observable and measurable, and that they convey the expected behavior to the students. These should be clear; understood by the students. And, in many cases, we urge teachers to model those behaviors that the rules convey.
Procedures are how teachers expect students to perform certain classroom routines. It’s a description of the steps for successfully completing such things as walking in the hallway, going to the cafeteria, responding to fire drills. But in considering the development of procedures, teachers need to decide why the procedure’s needed, under what circumstances the procedure is needed, when the procedure is needed, and most importantly how the procedure is built, specifically step by step, how do we want the students to behave in that circumstance.
Consequences are the actions that teachers take when students behave appropriately or inappropriately. It’s very important that when students follow rules or procedures that teachers provide a positive consequence. This positive consequence, we expect, will reinforce that rule compliance. In contrast, when students choose not to follow the rule or violates a rule or procedure, the teacher provides a negative consequence. What we expect or what we hope for is that negative consequence will decrease the likelihood that students will engage in that rule violation in the future. Now, the very important thing about consequences is that they be applied with consistency. If we lack this consistency, students will not know exactly how to behave. And in an inconsistent environment, student behavior tends to go and take the path of least resistance and we see large amounts of problem behavior.
When a student may engage in a pretty severe acting-out behavior, one that threatens themselves or other students, it is very useful to have a behavior crisis plan. In many cases, these behavior crisis plans involve having a preselected series of actions of what you’re going to do if a student engages in a crisis type of action, such as throwing a dangerous object, jumping on desks, things like that.
Finally, an effective classroom management plan must have an action plan. And this is a method for implementing all elements of the comprehensive plan. Think of it as a toolkit of forms and supports that one can use to make sure that the plans that are made actually happen. Elements of this action plan include how we are going to teach the comprehensive plan to students? How are we going to share the plan with other personnel or colleagues? How are we going to disseminate this plan to parents? And one thing that’s often overlooked is how are we going to review elements of this plan in the future to ensure the maintenance of the success of the comprehensive plan?
Revisiting Initial Thoughts
Think back to your responses to the Initial Thoughts questions at the beginning of this module. After working through the Perspectives & Resources, do you still agree with those responses? If not, what aspects about them would you change?
What should teachers understand about effective classroom behavior management?
How can teachers develop a classroom behavior management plan?
When you are ready, proceed to the Assessment section.