School operations

Behaviour — Students

1 How to increase appropriate behaviour

Provide students with structure and predictability

  • Make students’ days structured and predictable and limit excessive free time.
  • Transition schedules help students understand where to go and what comes next.
  • Make sure there are consistent and predictable routines throughout the day.
  • Break difficult school routines down into smaller steps (for example: “During lunch, I get my lunch box, line up, walk to the cafeteria, sit at the table, raise my hand for a drink, eat lunch, read a book until the bell rings, clean up my lunch, and line up.”). By identifying each step of the routine, teachers can pinpoint tasks with which the student has difficulty for further instruction.

Provide frequent reinforcement for appropriate behaviour and responses

Notice positive behaviour when it occurs and provide genuine praise. For example, if the student has difficulty sitting in a chair during circle time, observe the student and reinforce appropriate sitting behaviour frequently when the student sits in a chair without an adult directive.

Modify the classroom environment

  • Set up the classroom to prevent problems in advance. Locations for each activity should be clearly defined for the students with visuals and obvious boundaries.
  • Develop transition schedules that correspond with each area of the room, so the student can locate that area when asked to transition.
  • Areas for direct instruction should provide distraction-free environments for students who have difficulty attending.

Use simple language

  • Use simple language and pair it with a visual, if needed.
  • Always tell students 'what to do' rather than 'what not to do'

Provide appropriate learning opportunities at the student’s developmental level

  • Students engage in appropriate behaviour when they’re provided with meaningful tasks and activities.
  • Assess each student’s ability level to be sure the student has the prerequisite skills to meet expectations.
  • Develop materials that are appropriate for each student’s level.

Opportunities for choice-making

  • Allow the student to make choices of specific activities they would like to do and enable them to make choices during the activities as well.
  • Offer choices during the activities that might include their preference for rewards, materials, time, and setting.

Break difficult assignments or activities into smaller steps

When students are engaging in a difficult activity, start by making it short and fun. Over time, slowly increase the activity’s length of time.

Use visuals to support appropriate student behaviour

  • Employ visuals that tell the student “what to do” in advance of the activity or expected behaviour.
  • When providing reinforcement for appropriate behaviour, show the student the visual of the expected behaviour again.

Schedule activities that the student enjoys immediately following less enjoyable activities

Plan a daily schedule in which less enjoyable activities are initially conducted for short periods of time, followed by more enjoyable activities.

Always end a direct instruction session on positive behaviour

If the student is engaged in a less preferable activity in which inappropriate behaviour usually occurs, try ending the activity when the student is exhibiting appropriate behaviour. Over time, extend the length of the session and the amount of appropriate behaviour the student needs to exhibit before the session ends.

Teach students skills that directly compete with inappropriate behaviour

Provide reinforcement for skills the student engages in that are incompatible with their inappropriate behaviour. For example, if a student engages in hand flapping, teach the student to engage in an activity that requires the use of their hands (“playing a fishing game”).

Use a token board system

The token board is an evidence-based practice supported by research.

The Token Board System

Guidance chapter on strategies to increase appropriate behaviour

Reviewed 03 June 2020

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