Tips and Tools for Better Behavior

Houston ISD, Department of Social and Emotional Learning

Share these tips with your school TEAM:

Honing your communication skills can decrease defiance and increase compliance in your classroom. Assessing how you communicate and choosing what you say makes a big difference. Simple tips that can transform your classroom:

  1. Be aware of physical distance and body language. Don’t invade the student’s personal space (18-36 inches) but also don’t correct from more than 4 feet away. Use a supportive stance, shoulders turned at a 45 degree angle, with your hands at your sides. Avoid clenched fists and crossed arms. 54% of the message you send is in the language of your body.
  2. Be mindful of your facial expressions. Make eye contact but don’t stare at the student or demand that they look at you. Keep your eyes soft and neutral, smile when appropriate, tilt your head to the side and nod to show understanding.
  3. 38% of your message is sent with your tone, speed and loudness. Speak calmly, clearly and firmly. Avoid using an emotional or loud voice.
  4. Use “start” language and not “stop” language. Request what you want the student to start doing, not what you want them to stop doing. Make sure your requests are descriptive and brief. “Lori, please begin your work by placing your name on your paper” instead of “Lori, stop talking, you know what you should be doing.”
  5. Reinforce, reinforce, reinforce! After the student has begun doing the requested action, make sure you acknowledge when they are doing it right. A quick nod or thumbs up works wonders!
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About Us

The Social and Emotional Learning department coordinates the implementation and growth of culturally responsive and emotionally safe learning environments. They have resources to help students develop skills to manage their emotions, form positive relationships, feel empathy for others, and make responsible decisions.

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