The most successful teachers:
1. Create a comfortable physical environment
2. Provide clear expectations and procedures
3. Provide a positive and supportive emotional environment
To accomplish this they:
1. Plan Well
2. Frequently evaluate and update their methods
3. Are willing to adapt and think outside the box
The most successful teachers:
1. Have interesting and meaningful lessons
2. Make learning an enjoyable experience
3. See the majority of their students being successful
To accomplish this they:
1. Carefully plan lessons with clear expectations
2. Vary their presentation style
3. Accommodate for differences
The most successful teachers:
1. Have a good rapport with the students
2. Maintain good control without being dictatorial
3. Seem to have fewer behavioral problems
To accomplish this they:
1. Like their students
2. Have a good general classroom management plan
3. Model and practice expected behavior
The following are some principles on which you might base your discipline plan.
Consider them as you determine how to best work with your students.
Dealing with student behavior is part of the job. Discipline should have as much energy
and enthusiasm as content.
Always treat students with dignity. This is the most important element in discipline.
Treating kids with dignity will work for you. Not using dignity can work against you.
Students must learn to accept responsibility. When a student tries to shift responsibility
to others, guide him/her to accept it as his/her own. A student who says, “My parents
forgot to sign my paper” should be encouraged to reword the sentence to “I forgot to get
my paper signed.”
All interventions can stop misbehavior. More important is what happens later to foster:
Motivation for learning
Student’s sense of responsibility
Discipline in a manner consistent with your own belief system
Guidelines for Effective Discipline
Monitor Student Behavior
Use an “active eye.” See what is going on. Don’t become preoccupied with someone
or something and ignore the rest of the class. IT is said that one teacher on his/her
feet is worth two in the seat. This benefits your discipline program as well as being
as effective teaching strategy.
Be Persistent and Consistent
Students must know what to expect and they need to hear those expectations
many times before they become internalized. So be patient and repeat yourself
Enforce every consequence you give. If you tell a student there will be a
consequence for some behavior, follow through with the consequence. This is
very, very important if you want students to respect you.
Never give a consequence you can’t enforce. In other words, don’t threaten a
detention if you know you won’t be there to follow through on it.
Promptly Manage Inappropriate Behavior
Effective classroom managers know that misbehavior must be handled immediately or
there is a risk of snowballing. The following are some strategies you can employ to
reduce disruption with the least negative feelings.
Simply having prolonged eye contact with the student while you continue the lesson
sends a non-verbal message that says “I saw what you did and I want it stopped.”
Continuing your lesson while you move about the room, pausing near “trouble spots” can
let the students know that even though they are not near the teacher’s desk, they are still
expected to demonstrate appropriate behavior. Getting “boxed in” behind your desk or
podium encourages misbehavior.
The continuous sound of “teacher talk” can provide students with a nice screen for their
own conversations. An occasional pause – just a few seconds of silence – can bring an
off-task student back into focus.
This can be added to the above strategies for emphasis. A shaking of your head helps
stress your message to the student.
Asking for a Response
Hearing our name can be an attention-getter, even if we’re not paying attention. Working
an off-task student’s name into a question can often bring the student back to the lesson.
Remembering the student’s dignity, it would be appropriate to use the student’ name first,
in order to allow them to hear the question they’ll be expected to answer. The purpose it
to get the student back in to the lesson, not to embarrass him’/her.
Praising Appropriate Behavior
With larger numbers of misbehaving students, addressing the whole group may be
necessary. Rather than addressing the negative behavior, praising the students
demonstrating appropriate behavior cues the misbehaving student and reinforces the other
Sometimes having students respond to a question or become part of the activity can
eliminate the undesired behavior. Asking for a show of hands, having students role play,
physically respond, or having each student write a quick answer to a question can make
all students accountable for an immediate response.
Rewards and Reinforcement
Rewarding student with an enjoyable activity that is contingent on appropriate behavior
can be effective in motivating students to commit to the completion of a task. “If we can
finish this by 9:45, we will have time to…”
Encourage students to become a responsible part of the whole by teaching them to quietly
remind a talker to listen
Tips for Effective Discipline
Give simple incentive for positive behaviors. “The group that is the quietest goes
first.” Give, rather than take away.
Create a warm and friendly atmosphere – the optimum condition for learning. A
low, firm and controlled voice is all the “ammo” you need for most classroom
Be whatever you expect your class to be: on time, organized, prepared, cheerful,
and polite to all. Set a good, responsible example.
Listen to what student are thinking and feeling. Students misbehave when they
feel angry, fearful or bored. Teachers who can convey understanding are usually
able to short circuit the disruption.
Provide instruction at level that match the student’s ability. Misbehavior often
arises out of frustration if the work is too difficult, or out of boredom if the work
has little value.
1. The Consequence is UNPLEASANT but not abusive
2. The Consequence is BRIEF. (This breeds cooperation)
3. The Consequence is IMMEDIATE!
4. The Consequence is FAIR.
5. The Consequence WIPES THE SLATE CLEAN!
Dr. Eric P. Hartwig
Strategies for Working with Emotionally Unpredictable Students
Warning Signs: The student may….
Bite nails or lips
Mutter or grumble
Appear flushed or tense
Seem ‘stuck’ on a topic or issue
Strategies to prevent or reduce the intensity of student frustration:
Antiseptic bounce: Send the student form the room on an errand or task.
Permit student to go to quiet spot within or outside of classroom on ‘respite break’
(brief cool-down period)
Teach the student appropriate ways to seek help when stuck on academic
Spend 5 minutes talking through issue with student (or send student to another
Give student an ‘IOU’ to meet with adult to talk over issue at more convenient
Teach student to recognize signs of emotional upset and to use ‘self-calming’
Teach the student how to negotiate with instructors about assignments or work
Use motivation strategies to make learning more inviting
Warning Signs: The student may…
Lash out verbally at others.
Withdraw (emotionally or physically).
Challenge the authority of the instructor or other adult.
Refuse to comply with adult requests or to follow classroom routines.
Project blame onto others.
Strategies to prevent or reduce in the intensity of student defensiveness:
Avoid discussions of “show is right” or “who is in control”.
Approach the student privately, make eye contact, and address the student in a
quiet voice about his or her behavior.
Use humor to ‘defuse’ conflict situation.
Consider an apology if you have inadvertently wronged or offended the student
Impose appropriate consequences on peers if they are provoking the student
through teasing, taunts, verbal challenges, or physical horseplay.
Help the student to identify appropriate range of responses for the situation and to
Permit student some ‘leeway’ on assignment or classroom expectations (as an
acknowledgement of the life-or situational stress that they might be experiencing)
Teach the student non-stigmatizing ways to get academic help and support in the
classroom. Direct the student to write down the main points of his or her
concerns. Promise that you will read through the student’s account and meet
individually to discuss the problem.
Use effective ‘teacher commands’ to direct the student:
1. keep each command brief
2. State command directly rather than in “could you please…” format
3. Use businesslike tone, avoiding anger and sarcasm,
4. Avoid lengthy explanations for why you are making the request
5. Repeat command once if student fails to comply, then follow up with pre-
6. Use planned ignoring (NOTE: this strategy works best when the student lacks
Warning signs: The student may…
Make verbal threats
Use abusive language.
Assume threatening posture (e.g., with fists raised).
Physically strike out at peers or adults.
Strategies to react to, prepare for or respond to student verbal or physical
Remove other students or adults from the immediate vicinity of student (to protect
their safety, eliminate an audience)
Adopt a ‘supportive stance’: step slightly to the side of the student and orient
your body so that you face the student obliquely at a 45-90-degree angle.
Respect the student’s ‘personal space’. Most people interpret the distance
extending outward from their body to a distance of 2-1/2 to 3 feet as a bubble of
‘personal space.’ To both ensure your physical safety and reduce the student’s
sense of threat, always stand at least a leg’s length away from the student.
Use supportive ‘paraverbal’ and non-verbal communication. Children are adept
at ‘reading’ our moods and feelings through non-verbal signals such as facial
expressions and body language. Maintain a calm tone of voice and body posture
to project acceptance and support for the student.
Do not block the door. Unless you have a compelling reason to do so (e.g. with
very young children), try not to block the upset child’s access to the door as you
approach the student. The student may interpret a blocked exit as a threat and
attempt to go around or even through you to escape.
Deliver a clear statement of choices. Here is a 3-step approach for making
requests to upset students:
1. Give the student two clear choices with clear consequences. Order the
choices so that the student hears the teacher-preferred choice last. Make sure
above all that you can enforce any consequences that you present to the
2. If the student fails to comply in a reasonable amount of time to #1, state
clearly and firmly what you want the student to do. Include a time limit for
student compliance and specify a location if necessary.
3. If the student still fails to comply with your request, enforce alternative
consequences that you have selected in advance.
Functional Behavior Assessments
& Behavior Intervention Plans
The Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA) and Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP) are a
part of the Individual Education Plan (IEP) for students with special needs. Therefore, all
IEP due process and legal requirements pertain.
FBAs and BIPs ~ What are they?
The procedures for the FBA and BIP were included in the 1997 reauthorization of the
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA~97) to ensure that students with
disabilities receive the positive behavioral supports they require to succeed within the
school environment. These provisions direct that school districts follow a series of steps
when disciplining a student who has been identified, or referred as suspected of having a
Why should they be done?
This process can be used as a best practice with any student (general or special education)
who is exhibiting behaviors that impede learning and whose actions have not been
responsive to more informal interventions. Beyond the obvious acting out/disruptive
behaviors, this may include behaviors such as excessive truancy or unexcused absences,
failure to complete assignments, continuously falling asleep in class, or roaming
hallways. In short, any behavior that significantly impedes learning could be addressed
through the FBA/BIP process.
An FBA/BIP also needs to be completed when a student has been denied access to his/her
educational program for more than 10 cumulative days in a school year. “Denied access”
refers not only to days of documented school suspension. Other examples of “denied
access” may include when a student:
• is sent home for part of a school day under ‘agreement’ with the parent,
• stays home rather than goes on a field trip due to suggestion from the school,
• spends lengthy periods of time in isolated situations (i.e. office, disciplinary
Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA)
All behavior serves a purpose. Although there are many motivators behind behaviors,
most are for one of three reasons: to get something, to avoid something, or to
communicate something. The FBA process is to determine the purpose of the
inappropriate (target) behavior. It is a crucial step since interventions will not be effective
unless they address the cause behind the behavior.
1. Identifying the target behavior
The FBA begins with the IEP Team writing a succinct, observable, and measurable
statement of the problem behavior. As simple as this may sound, it can be very difficult,
not only writing an exact statement, but also determining and agreeing on what the
problem behavior is. In some cases it may be necessary to complete observations and/or
gather other data to clearly specify the behavior.
In writing a target behavior, remember that this is a portrayal of the inappropriate
behavior, not a goal or expectation. This description should be able to pass the “stranger
test;” being so complete and accurate that a stranger could act out the behavior without
having to ask any clarifying questions. It should not include any vague (i.e. “bothers
others”), judgmental (i.e. “disrespectful”), or absolute (i.e. “always”) statements. Include
only that which is known. Do not include statements of perceived cause (i.e. “when
angry”), as this will influence the outcome.
2. Determination of need for additional information
After completing the target behavior statement, the IEP Team needs to determine whether
or not they have sufficient data to identify the function of the behavior.
A. Historical data should include:
• how long has this behavior been occurring?
• what interventions, if any, have been documented?
• what have been the results of previous interventions?
B. For current data, the IEP Team needs to ask whether or not they really know:
• when the behavior occurs,
• where the behavior occurs,
• how often the behavior occurs,
• how intense the behavior is,
• what antecedents or settings lead to this behavior,
• what happens immediately following the behavior.
3. Collection of data
If these key questions cannot be answered, additional data must be collected. The
answers to these questions will also guide the IEP Team in determining which type of
data collection methods will be most useful. Methods may include observations
(anecdotal, time sampling, event recording), interviews, rating scales. The use of multiple
methods is recommended.
Examples of data collection methods may include:
•For out of seat behavior: a review of academic achievement, time sampling
during a variety of activities, anecdotal records from focused observation, teacher
• For non-attendance issues: a review of attendance and achievement records,
interviews with parent(s), student, and teacher(s), observation when student is
• For disruptive behavior: a review of records, scatter plot recording, teacher
interviews/ rating scales, and event recording.
During the process of data collection it is also a good idea to determine the student’s
preferred reinforcers and specific areas of interest. This knowledge will be of benefit
when developing the BIP.
4. Analysis of data
When the IEP Team agrees that all required information has been collected, they must
convene an IEP meeting to triangulate the data. This analysis allows them to determine
whether there are patterns of behavior: consistent triggers, reinforcers, common settings
(including places, situations or persons present). The use of the term triangulate in the
literature is to stress the need for multiple sources. It is advisable to use a variety of data
collection methods with a number of individuals familiar with the student. This assures
that no one person’s preconceived ideas or no one tool’s inherent weaknesses influence
5. Statement of function
The next step is to develop a statement describing the assumed purpose of the behavior
(i.e. in order to avoid challenging work).
Based on the statement of function, the IEP team has the direction necessary to write a
meaningful and effective intervention plan.
The Team may find it helpful to develop a hypothesis leading to the statement of
function. A hypothesis is made up of three parts: the antecedent or trigger, the behavior,
and the purpose (“when given independent seatwork that requires more than a 4th grade
reading ability, student X gets out of seat and leaves the classroom, in order to avoid
challenging work”). The last part of the hypothesis then becomes the statement of
function (“the purpose behind this behavior is to avoid challenging work”).
The power of first writing a hypothesis is that this provides the IEP Team with a situation
that can be tested. For the above example, the IEP Team may determine that before going
ahead they wish to test their hypothesis. Given their theory, if student X is only given
seatwork requiring reading ability at or below a 4th grade level, the problem behavior
should not occur.
Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP)
IDEA requires that schools develop and implement “positive behavioral interventions,
strategies, and supports” when a student’s behavior impedes his/her learning or that of
others. This refers to proactive actions on the part of involved adults with the goal being
to prevent the behavior from occurring. The BIP is the vehicle for this plan. Unlike the
goals/objectives segment of the IEP, the BIP addresses what adults will do. The methods
used to accomplish this include, but are not limited to:
Providing environmental adjustments that make the target behavior
Identifying and teaching replacement behaviors that serve the same
function as the target behavior
Reinforcing the occurrence of desired behaviors
Using predetermined consequences to extinguish target behavior
1. Statement of function
The IEP Team should begin the process of developing a BIP by restating the statement of
function. The reason for this is to ensure that the interventions and strategies developed
are linked to the cause of the behavior, not simply the symptoms.
2. Preventative Strategies
Since the goal of the entire FBA/BIP process is to change behavior, it makes sense to
begin by looking at proactive steps that staff can take to support the student and make the
problem behavior unnecessary. Obviously, knowing the function of the behavior is
crucial in making these decisions. Examples may include academic modifications,
strengthening the student’s support network and sense of belonging, or providing
opportunities for the student to use his/her areas of strength within the school community.
3. Choosing and teaching a replacement behavior
The inappropriate behavior that is being focused on has served this student well. There
has been a reason for it. For an individual to stop/give up a behavior is difficult enough.
In order to do it successfully, that person must be provided with a different, more
appropriate behavior that will bring about the same results. But just as with any behavior,
it must be learned before it will occur. In these situations, the learning will more than
likely not take place without direct teaching. Instruction of a replacement behavior should
take place during an emotionally neutral time, allowing the student to offer suggestions
with which he/she would feel comfortable, and providing opportunities for role playing.
The student may well require reminders, in the form of physical cues and/or verbal
prompts, until the replacement behavior is established (note: it usually takes a minimum
of thirty days for a behavior to be changed).
The Behavior Intervention Plan should include those consequences that will be used to:
• Reinforce and shape the new behavior,
• Extinguish the problem behavior.
A reminder: consequences are not the same as punishment. The hopeful outcome of the
consequence is to bring the student back into the classroom community without a feeling
of resentment. For this reason it is important to maintain a positive connection between
the teacher and the student. Consequences should be logical (i.e. cleaning up an area if a
mess has been made), restorative (i.e. writing a letter of apology to those who were hurt
by the behavior), and private (the class does not need to know what consequence is
applied to a circumstance).
It is advisable to include the student in deciding what consequences will be used to
reinforce the new behavior. Decisions made without student input may be presumptuous;
not everyone likes M&Ms®, and consequently this type of reinforcer may not be
motivating. Remember that appropriate behaviors must be more consistently and
powerfully reinforced than are problem behaviors.
5. Crisis management
If procedures are necessary to insure safety or to provide an out of class environment for
any other reason, plans for this should be included in the BIP. Be sure that whatever plan
is developed has been done with the person(s) who will be dealing with the student. For
example, it is not sufficient to say that the student will be sent to the office; a plan for
what will happen once the student is in the office should also be developed.
6. Review of Progress
The IEP Team reconvenes to assess the effectiveness of the FBA/BIP process.
Determination is made as to whether the plan shall be continued, if the BIP requires
modification, or if the IEP Team needs to return to the FBA process.
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asssaultive, or out-of-control behavior. Brookfield, WI: National Crisis Prevention Institute
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