Behavior Matters

News from your District Behavior Coach

The 4 Most Effective Classroom Behavior Strategies (Tier 1)

What strategies are most effective for supporting behavior in the classroom?

1. Active Supervision and Proximity- A systematic process for monitoring the classroom, or any school setting, that incorporates moving, scanning, and interacting frequently with students. (SEE MARCH ISSUE FOR MORE INFORMATION)

2. Provide High Rates and Varied Opportunities to Respond (OTRs)- A teacher behavior that requests or solicits a student response. Increased rates of opportunities to respond support student on-task behavior and correct responses, while decreasing disruptive behavior. (SEE FEBRUARY ISSUE FOR MORE INFORMATION)

3. Use Behavior Specific Praise- A verbal statement that names the behavior explicitly and includes a statement that shows approval. (SEE JANUARY ISSUE FOR MORE INFORMATION)

4. Positively Acknowledge Student Behavior (5:1 Ratio)-Recognize students for following rules, directives, directions, participating, etc. Studies indicate a 5:1 ratio, or 5 confirmations, praise, and approvals for every 1 corrections increases appropriate student behavior. (SEE SPOTLIGHT BELOW FOR MORE INFORMATION)

Spotlight on Tier 1 Behavior Interventions

Today's Focus Strategy: Positive Acknowledgment (5:1 Ratio)

Positively Acknowledge Student Behavior : WHAT THE RESEARCH SAYS

Positive acknowledgement is the presentation of something pleasant or rewarding immediately following an academic or social behavior. Positive acknowledgement will make a behavior more likely to occur in the future and is one of the most powerful tools for shaping or changing behavior (SBCUSD Positive Behavior Support Initiative). It is often said, "the behavior you attend to the most will be the one that you will see more of in the future."

There are two different types of acknowledgement: contingent and non-contingent.

Contingent acknowledgement is conditional upon demonstration of a desired behavior. For example, six students who are facing forward in line are acknowledged.

Non-contingent acknowledgment occurs when students are given time and attention because you value them as people, regardless of their performance on a specific task. Examples of non-contingent acknowledgment include smiles and greetings.

Given that many instances of inappropriate behavior are based in a desire for attention, if we provide sufficient non-contingent acknoweldgement, the frequency of behavior problems may decrease. (Decker, Dona & Christenson, 2007) Smiles, handshakes, and community-building activities establish positive relationships between students and staff and will help students accept correction when it is needed.

However, non-contingent acknowledgement alone will not change behavior. Contingent acknowledgement paired with specific feedback is essential in changing student behavior. Contingent attention increases academic performance (Good, Eller, Spangler, & Stone, 1981) and on-task behavior (Sutherland, Wehby, & Copeland, 2000). To learn, humans require regular and frequent feedback on their actions. Positive acknowledgement, or feedback, will make a behavior more likely to occur.

Feedback needs to be clear and specific, explicitly stating what positive behavior a student engaged in and why it was correct. In addition, pointing out the benefits of a student's behavior and the impact it has on them, as well as others, may increase the frequency of that behavior. When students are learning new behavior, acknowledgement needs to be frequent (every time the student displays the behavior). Once the skill has been learned, you can shift to general praise and occasional use of specific feedback. Intermittent specific feedback will help to maintain the behavior.

Ratio of Positive to Corrective Interactions

Research suggests that staff should plan to use a 4 or 5:1 ratio of positive to corrective interactions. For every 1 corrective interaction or attention to inappropriate behavior, staff provide 4 or 5 positives for appropriate behavior. When a teacher engages in a corrective interaction, they are correcting a misbehavior. This does not necessarily mean the teacher was negative, rather that the teacher paid attention to the negative behavior. The goal is to decrease attention to misbehavior and increase attention to expected behavior.

For students who have to put forth a great deal of effort to meet behavioral expectations, the ratio of positive to corrective interactions increases. For students who are at-risk, staff should plan to use anywhere from 8-12 positives for each corrective interaction. In addition, pairing verbal feedback with a tangible or activity reinforcer may be helpful. However, the item/activity must be paired with the specific verbal acknowledgment so that students are aware of exactly what they did to earn it.

What does this look like in the classroom?

  • Establish Eye Contact
-This indicates that a response is intended for a specific student
  • Respond Positively with Enthusiasm & Sincerity
-Acknowledgement is more effective if students believe it is sincere

-Use student names

-Use variation of tone of voice and level of enthusiasm

  • Communicate Privately
  • Provide Immediate Feedback
  • -Follow closely to the behavior to help students make the connection between the behavior and the acknowledgement

    -The younger the student, the more important this is

  • Use Specific, Contingent Acknowledgement
  • -Adults do not "give", instead students "earn"
    "You are showing me that you are ready for recess by facing forward in line."

    -Tie to school-wide expectations

    -Avoid references to past mistakes

    -Be cautious of adding "I'm proud of you." We want students doing the appropriate behavior because of the benefit to them, rather than to please an adult.

  • Listen
  • Monitor Students Throughout the Day
-Greet students as they enter the classroom

-Monitor hallways and positively acknowledge as many students as possible

  • Use a variety of Non-Contingent Acknowledgment





- Thumbs Up or High Five

-Community building activities

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Keriann Poquette

District Behavior Coach & MTSS Coordinator

Central Montcalm Public Schools