Creating a Behavior Modification Plan

In every classroom, there are certain students who seem to have more difficulty following the rules compared to the rest of the class. However, with a little extra work, almost any student can be taught the proper classroom behavior and become a successful student. Teacher resources for dealing with misbehaving students abound, but one method seems to be gaining in popularity - developing a behavior plan.

A behavior plan is a type of contract between a teacher and student that outlines problem behaviors and what the consequences will be when these negative behaviors continue. It also documents what will occur if the student begins to behave in a positive manner in the classroom. It is in essence a rubric, but it is designed to outline proper behavior instead of coursework. Below are a few suggestions on how to develop such a plan with a student.

First, if possible, it can be an added benefit to include a student's parents or guardians in developing the behavior plan. The parents/guardians will know best what motivates their child and what consequences would be effective. A teacher can compile this information along with their observations to determine the most powerful rewards and disincentives.

Once a teacher has an understanding of what motivates the child and what can be a disincentive, he or she can then begin to define in the behavior plan what types of behavior are causing issues in the classroom. These should be very clearly defined so as to be measureable. They should also be written in a way that a child could understand.

After developing the particular problem behaviors and understanding what motivates the child, the teacher can now develop a specific behavior plan based on these factors. For example, if a student has problems with outbursts in class and is motivated by being given responsibilities in the classroom, the teacher can offer to let the student take down the classroom flag (or some other public job) at the end of every week that no outburst occurs. If there are behavioral issues, the student will be given no responsibility for that week. This should all be well documented for each class day in order to assist in staying consistent. Keeping good records can also help a teacher to establish patterns and see how a student's behavior has changed over time.

Once a behavior plan is designed, the student and the teacher should sign it. The teacher should also make certain that he or she is consistent in upholding the contract, as any deviation from it will cause it to cease to be a motivator for the student. The teacher should also discuss the results with parents or guardians when possible, as they can continue to give positive or negative reinforcement outside the classroom based on the behavior.

Creating a behavior plan can be great way to bring troubled students back into the fold and help them grow and develop along with the other students. It is also a great way to systematically cut down on negative behaviors in the classroom. Using behavior plans properly can make the classroom a better working environment for all students.