Congratulations educators for another successful school year! I hope you've carved out lots of time this summer for relaxation and rejuvenation — this is necessary and mandatory. As we hit the midpoint of our break, now you may be ready to explore resources for classroom preparation.

These are few of my top strategies and resources to support positive classroom management; I will share specific behavior supports for individual students. Being proactive and anticipating potential triggers or problems is the key. Since all behavior communicates a message, our role is to figure out what message a child is trying to say so we can teach them a better way to express his/or her message.

All children can behave; some students may need extra, explicit support to learn how to participate effectively and meaningfully. While students with behavior-related disabilities may sometimes need additional behavioral support, that does not preclude them from being able to meet high expectations for behavior. The key to success, as Lee and Marlene Canter write, is that "you must believe that if students don't behave, it's because they've chosen not to, or don't know how."

When beginning teachers struggle with classroom management, it is often because they ignore unacceptable behavior, worrying they'll upset or annoy students by enforcing rules. Or they'll ignore certain students, deciding to concentrate their efforts on the half of the class who "want to learn."

It is our privilege to set and enforce rules so all students can concentrate on academic achievement.

Here are a few guiding principles:

  • Taking time to invest in students' interests and personal likes helps establish relationships with students. This helps motivate and engage learners who are reluctant.
  • If adults are consistent with routines, behavior plans and communication, students will follow the practices and rise to the expectations.
  • Transitions are tough for many students. Clear routines for each transition. Explicit teaching of the routines, countdowns to the next expected activity and visual "time trackers" can help.
  • Allow students to be a part of the class rule system (add to refine as necessary). Rule charts with only 3-5 positively stated rules posted.
  • Use explicit instruction to practice and model expectations for routines and behaviors. Time to Teach has an excellent resource — "Teach To's" — with hundreds of examples of how to teach necessary routines like lining up, taking turns, etc.
  • Be firm and clear when giving directions. Give directions in the form of a statement not a question. Pair rules and directions with visuals, and keep directions brief.
  • Three-step guided compliance can be used for students who maybe identified with cognitive impairments: 1. verbal prompt — "Kelli sit down." 2. gestural prompt — point to chair and say, "Sit down like John is." and 3. physical guidance — physically guide to sit in the chair.
  • When a student is in crisis, it is important to remain calm and become a broken record. For example, "I need you to sit down, I need you to sit down ..."
  • Use break cards. If a student needs a break (set number is allotted in a given time), procedures are set in place for this, and the student pulls out the break card. This is a great self-advocacy and proactive strategy. The work missed is to be made up at a later time if needed.
  • Limit the amount of "down time" or waiting time between activities. Provide processing breaks or fillers like "What do I do when I am through?" folders of content-related work.
  • Provide defined space for children to work in solo or in groups, during lineup time, etc. — for example, arms-length away, stretch out areas in the back on the floor, placing children on the end of a row, allowing for an extra desk for materials.
  • Provide a calming area or relaxation area so students can reflect on their behavior. Don't engage the child in a lot of taking when he/she is upset. Short, clear directions until he/she is calm, then debrief if appropriate.
  • Agendas and daily schedule posted at eye level can help alleviate the anxiety some students have during the school day.
  • Rewards must be paired with why the child received the reward. They can be nonsocial like stickers, pencils etc., but pair it with specific praise. They need to be given immediately after the desired behavior. Delaying this can lead to the rewards not working at all.

These are my top four behavior intervention websites:

Intervention Central In addition to templates, this website provides strategies and resources for various student behaviors. This website also provides teachers and students a free behavior checklist maker tool to track their behaviors in academically demanding and least-restrictive settings. Self-Check Behavior Checklist Maker is a free application that allows teachers to quickly create checklists that students can use to monitor their behavior in the classroom.

PBIS World This website allows teachers to click on specific behaviors and locate resources and strategies at all intervention tiers.

Intensive Intervention This website provides behavioral strategies and sample resources to use with students who may require academic and/or behavioral support. Each strategy includes a description of the (a) purpose and overview; (b) behavior(s) addressed; (c) implementation procedures and considerations; (d) sample scripts or formats; (e) potential intensification strategies; and (f) additional resources and fillable templates.

Polk Elementary PBS Intervention Grid Polk Elementary School created a grid for behaviors and corresponding tiered interventions. Based on each specific behavior, teachers can find strategies to support behavior change using a positive reinforcement.

The self-fulfilling prophecy of high expectations holds true for behavior as well as academic achievement. In the same way that we hold high expectations for student achievement, we must hold even higher expectations for student behavior.

If we are proactive, positive and firm, all students will reach our high expectations to be successful with behavior and academics.