How to Develop Behavior Management Plans

Need some insight on bringing more calm to your classroom? Veteran teacher Heather shares advice and perspective on behavior management plans that really work.

Updated on: February 4, 2020

Developing behavior management plans that really work

As educators, we know that not all students are alike, and every school year is different. Every August, we get a group of new students who have diverse backgrounds and family make ups, unique learning needs, and even some behavioral concerns.

This is where a behavior management plan comes into play! In order to help you teach and helps your students to learn, a system needs to be put into place so that behavior remains cool, calm, and collected at all times. If you’re new to developing one, or simply want to refresh your current plan of action, read on!

What Is a Behavior Management Plan?

Educators use a behavior management plan in two different ways. One way is implementing a whole class plan, in which everyone has to abide by the system established. Another way to implement a plan (which could also be in conjunction with your classroom plan) is to provide an individual student with their own management plan. This type of plan slightly differs from an IEP or a 504 plan. It’s much more informal, but directly designed to meet the individual needs of the student.

Regardless of which plan you put into play, the guidelines of developing one are consistent. Here are a few steps you can take to get started!

1. Involve the Whole Class

When you talk about what you want your classroom to look like (and sound like) on a daily basis, your students should be involved in the discussion. They will immediately realize that they are stakeholders in the plan and that they all have an equal responsibility to make things run smoothly.

2. Develop 5 Rules

After a whole group discussion about a positive learning environment, start to draft out rules. Anything less than 5 rules isn’t enough, and anything greater than 5 rules can teeter on excessive. Five is the magic number! An example of some rules you may want to abide by are:

  • Raise your hand.
  • Come to class prepared.
  • Use kind words.
  • Keep your hands to yourself.
  • Follow directions.

Keep your rules simple, to the point, and posted visibly, for all to see.

3. Keep Track of Data

Students need to be held accountable for the rules that you choose. It’s nice to develop a way to track data and show who is abiding by your plan and who needs some extra work on following the rules.

Many classroom teachers use ClassDojo. It’s a free behavioral management tracking system that also links parents! Other teachers prefer a more traditional method and create a daily or weekly chart, which they keep on a clipboard. The chart contains student names, class rules, and allows teacher to notate who is not sticking to your system. They can jot down notes throughout the day and have solid talking points if need be, when getting an administrator or parent involved.

Teachers of younger elementary students also like to track behavior on color charts. All students start out on “green” and then will need to flip their cards or move their clips to other colors throughout the day (yellow for a warning, red for a time out/office referral) based on their behavior.

There are so many ways to track and monitor behavior!

4. Offer Positive and Negative Consequences

When students are doing a great job following the policies and procedures outlined in your behavioral management plan, be ready to reward them with positive presents. You could send home notes of affirmation, give stickers, give small trinkets, or even offer a class incentive. Some teachers fill a jar with a pebble (or other small items) when the class is doing a great job overall. Once the jar is filled, students can enjoy an extra recess, class movie, or class party.

Negative consequences are also a must when working with your classroom management plan. If students are not adhering to your rules, you can notify parents, write office referrals, remove students from whole group activities, or even have them lose some time from school wide events. When it comes to issuing negative consequences, always make sure you have a discussion with an administrator to allow them to approve your plan of action, and to ensure they are aware of your system so that they can get on board with your rules and expectations.

5. Promote Parent Awareness and Involvement

Parents are essential to your behavior management plan. Although they are not present in your classroom, their presence is important at home. They can review the rules with their children, celebrate when something positive occurs, and also support you if their child isn’t holding up their end of the bargain. A brief parent letter should be sent home at the beginning of the school year so they can instantly be made aware of your rules and regulations for their child and the class.

In conclusion organization, communication, and consistency is key when designing a behavior management plan for your class or an individual student. In five easy steps, a few resources, and some discussions; an effective plan can be established and an awesome school year can be had!

What are your go-to behavior management tips? Share with us on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Heather Aulisio is a third grade teacher in Pennsylvania. She has been a teacher for nearly 15 years and holds multiple degrees and certifications. A freelancer for The Mailbox and other education-related clients and publications, she enjoys writing in order to help and entertain fellow teachers. She currently resides with her husband, Bryan; son, Matthew; and two pugs, Lily and Leo.

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