Welcome to Inclusive Education.


Behaviour and learning

http://inclusive.tki.org.nz/guides/behaviour-and-learning/

There are times when a student’s behaviour can create barriers to learning and inhibit wellbeing for both the student and for those around them.

As learning, behaviour, and wellbeing are inseparable, this guide examines matching the learning environment and its design with student learning needs, interests, and strengths. It also examines student expression, the impact of adult responses, and ways to support student self-advocacy and self-regulation.

Understanding student behaviour

Behaviour is defined as the way one acts or conducts oneself, especially towards others. It is often a response to a particular situation or stimulus. Behaviour cannot be addressed separately from learning and wellbeing.

If students are learning successfully, if they are feeling connected, if they know that people care, they are less likely to behave in ways that jeopardise their opportunities to be part of that.

Ngaire Ashmore, Principal, Tangaroa College

Source: Behaviour for Learning Action Plan: RTLB Conference, 2009 (PPT slide 10)

Suggestions and resources

Expression of needs

Behaviour is a form of communication, a way of getting needs met. The two most common needs are:

  • to obtain something – for example, more time, understanding, order, calm, peer or adult attention, a desired object or activity, or sensory stimulation 
  • to avoid something – for example, a stressor, a frustration, a difficult/boring or easy task, a physical demand, an activity the student doesn’t like, or a peer.

Source: PB4L Understanding child behaviour

Expression of needs
Barriers to learning

Student’s may experience increased levels of anxiety, stress, or agitation leading to low motivation and disengagement in the classroom when barriers to learning have not been identified and removed. For example:

  • if materials and resources are presented in only one way, students may not be able to personalise them to match learning preferences and needs
  • if a teacher speaks from the front (without using visuals for support) for a long time to introduce a task, some students will not be able to sustain concentration
  • if the classroom becomes unexpectedly noisy and there are no quiet areas to work, some students may become distracted and agitated with the sensory overload.
Barriers to learning
Functional behavioural assessment (image)
Table identifying why behaviour might be occurring
Identifying the reason for a behaviour

Explore using Functional behavioural assessment to understand and respond to the function (the why) of a behaviour.

Source: Ministry of Education, PB4L

Functional behavioural assessment
Recognising frustrations (NZ) (video)
Identify and minimise stressors

Will’s teacher and his mother explain what he was trying to communicate through his behaviour when he started at Ngatapa School.

Closed captioning available in player

Source: Education for All DVD (NZ)

Recognising frustrations (NZ)
Identifying triggers

Events, people or things that immediately precede or trigger behaviours are called antecedents.

At school, possible antecedents could include: being yelled at or teased by other children, being told to complete an assignment, experiencing repeated failures or frequent corrections, low rates of positive reinforcement, having a toy taken away, or being told to stop engaging in a preferred activity.

Outside school, possible antecedents could include: reactivity due to stress at home, conflict in interpersonal relationships, lack of sleep or food, experiences of bullying behaviour via social media.

Once the antecedents that trigger the behaviour are identified, several types of approaches can be used:

  • Eliminate the antecedent event (where possible).
  • Encourage the use of a personal management strategy (take a walk or a break in a time-out space).
  • Modify a task to prevent a particular behaviour – identify student preferences and modify a task so that it incorporates student interests.
  • Change task difficulty.
  • Change how instructional content is presented. For example, present a variety of brief activities instead of one longer task.
  • Increase opportunities for choice.
  • Predictability – displaying daily schedules on a visual calendar, modelling new tasks, and rehearsing upcoming events can reduce anxiety and stress.

Source: Antecedent interventions, University of Kansas

Identifying triggers

Resources and downloads

A process for assessing behaviour

This PB4L information sheet includes a series of questions to help assess a student’s behaviour.

Education support packs

Comprehensive education support packs for primary and secondary contexts developed by the Down’s Syndrome Association UK. Contents include "effective strategies for inclusion, developing language skills, accessing the curriculum, teaching reading, developing writing skills, learning mathematics and numeracy skills, promoting positive behaviour and social skills, successful transitions and using computers as an aid to learning".

Strategies to empower, not control, kids labeled ADD/ADHD (Chapter 3)

A broad collection of classroom strategies from the book ADD/ADHD Alternatives in the Classroom by Thomas Armstrong.

The incredible years programme

This programme covers approaches that reduce disruptive behaviour and create positive learning environments for children aged 3–8 years.

Multiple Means of Engagement - Managing Fear so Learning Can Occur

In this collection of short videos about Universal Design for Learning, Dr David Rose and CAST colleague Grace Meo explain how engagement, goals, affective demands, and resources are connected. Collated by the Alberta Regional Consortia.

Positive student-adult relationships (image)
Pat Tetley, Deputy Principal of Tangaroa College, talking with students
Relationships are significant

"You can be strict. You might even be grumpy, but if students know that underneath it all you care about them, that makes all the difference.”

Pat Tetley, Deputy Principal, Tangaroa College

Source: Making a Difference: How ten New Zealand schools and early childhood centres are engaging students in positive achievement (pp. 31–32)

Positive student-adult relationships
Consequences and responses

Behaviour as a form of expression is shaped (reduced or reinforced) by what happens after it

The way we respond to a behaviour has a significant impact on the occurrence of the behaviour:

  • Unpack what the student is trying to communicate - what is the purpose of the behaviour?
  • Teach alternative behaviours that meet the same purpose. For example, if the purpose of the behaviour is to avoid doing something difficult, teach strategies for managing the task or ways the student can make the task less difficult.
Consequences and responses
Modelling behaviour (image)
Student and teacher working on an iPad
Consider the effect of your own behaviour

A child or young person’s behaviour is unlikely to change unless the adult behaviour changes.

Source: Ministry of Education

Modelling behaviour
Building relationships (NZ) (video)
Improving motivation, engagement, and learning

High School students reflect on teachers’ getting to know them and the difference it makes.

View transcript

Source: Te Kotahitanga (NZ)

Building relationships (NZ)
Student perspectives (video)
Responding to teachers

Students with ADHD describe how they respond to the different teaching methods of teachers.

No captions or transcript available

Source: ADHD Voices (UK)

Student perspectives

Resources and downloads

Positive behavioral interventions and supports: Primary level

This publication outlines a range of practical suggestions for providing school-wide, positive-behavioural interventions and supports. It details processes and practices, and links to a wide range of resources. Links to interventions and supports for secondary and tertiary levels are included.

Back to top

Creating a classroom environment and culture that supports positive behaviour for learning

Develop with students an environment that supports positive behaviour for learning. Focus on developing and teaching agreed expectations and consequences.

Develop expectations with clear explanations in partnership with all students. Display expectations in different ways so that they are accessible and meaningful to all students. 

Source: Positive Behaviour for Learning

Suggestions and resources

Classroom walkaround

Take a walk around your classroom and view it through your students’ eyes. Use your senses to consider how things might look, hear, and feel to your students.

Reduce barriers to learning by recognising and modifying anything that might create discomfort or stress, such as:

  • high noise levels and random sounds
  • colour stimulants and visual clutter in the classroom, in materials and in online environments
  • order and disorder of the environment, activities and tasks
  • locations of seating and desks in relation to light and sound
  • heights of hooks for bags and coats and storage options for materials and personal items.

Some behaviours may also be directly linked to frustrations with communication, thinking (cognitive processing), or socialising. Students may be attempting to manage high levels of anxiety, stress, or pain in ways that are undesirable or ineffective.

Classroom walkaround
Organising physical spaces

Organise the physical space to ensure:

  1. areas have clear visual boundaries for students, for example, quiet spaces are set apart from busy areas

  2. the teacher(s) can see every student when scanning the room

  3. the teacher is visible to every student 

  4. students who lose concentration easily can be close to the presenter/whiteboard/screen or have support material at their desk to minimise distractions

  5. behavioural expectations are displayed with both text and graphics or icons so that all students can understand them

  6. crowding and distraction are minimised – the room is arranged so that students can access learning materials and transition between activities easily.

Organising physical spaces
Ease of movement and collaboration (video)
Designing for accessibility and flexibility

A classroom refurbishment designed to meet student learning needs.

Layout considers student movement around the room, spaces for collaborative work, and easy access to visual displays.

Closed captioning available in player

Source: Edutopia (US)

Ease of movement and collaboration
Student centred learning spaces (NZ) (video)
Involve students in the design

Anne Kenneally, DP at St Mary's School, explains how involving students in the classroom design and giving them choices about the use of space helps them understand where, how, and when they learn best.

View transcript

Source: EDtalks (NZ)

Student centred learning spaces (NZ)
Student perspective of sensory overload (video)
What the classroom can feel like

Erin Clems has a personal experience of ASD.

In this video she creates a simulation of the impact of sensory oveload in the classroom on students with ASD.

No captions or transcript available

Source: Erinclem (US)

Student perspective of sensory overload

Resources and downloads

How is my classroom management?

A PowerPoint presentation from Simonsen and Sugai that helps teachers to review features and practices for behaviour management in the classroom.

Positive behaviour for learning: Classroom assessment tool

This checklist supports action planning for positive behaviour in the classroom.

Visual timetables (NZ) (video)
Supporting student organisation

Linda Ojala uses the same visuals in a range of contexts within her classroom. They are a key part of supporting students to know what is happening and they help students to organise themselves.

Closed captioning available in player

Source: Ministry of Education, inclusive education videos (NZ)

Visual timetables (NZ)
Classroom routines

Establish classroom routines and provide advance notice of any changes

  1. Display a daily, visual timetable on the whiteboard with an outline for the day’s activities and refer to it when letting students know what is happening next.

  2. Teach behavioural expectations for transition and non-instructional activities.

  3. Use physical activities, such as standing and taking deep breaths, to mark the change from one lesson to another. Simple stretching or singing exercises are other effective ways to mark transitions.

  4. Advise the class five to ten minutes in advance that a class or activity is about to end.

  5. Encourage students to self-manage timing by using a vibrating watch or a timer on their cellphone. They can set it to silently vibrate at particular intervals as reminders to transition to the next activity or class.

Classroom routines
Communicating with students

Use a clear and consistent approach when communicating with students

  1. Communicate expectations positively and clearly. Use non-verbal cues, such as images demonstrating expectations, as well as words.

  2. Use “when-then” and “first-then” commands.

  3. Avoid negative commands, corrections, demands, and yelling.

  4. Redirect a disengaged student by using teacher proximity, pre-arranged non-verbal signals, simple prompts, reminders, and pre-corrections.

  5. State requests or give directions to the student using brief descriptions of positive behaviours you want to see.

Communicating with students
Student perspectives (video)
Personal strategies

Students with ADHD share how peers and personal strategies help them manage their concentration and behaviour.

No captions or transcript available

Source: ADHD Voices (UK)

Student perspectives
Managing pressure points

Reducing stress

I hate going into the cloakroom in the morning as there is lots of pushing and shoving.

Mr Jack noticed that I was always grumpy first thing in the morning so he talked to me and my mum and we decided that I would come into the class first and then go and hang up my bag after the bell.

Now I come into class happy and complete my handwriting without hurting others beside me.

Student, New Zealand ;
Managing pressure points

Resources and downloads

ClassDojo

An online tool to support positive and on-task behaviour in the classroom.

How is my classroom management?

A PowerPoint presentation from Simonsen and Sugai that helps teachers to review features and practices for behaviour management in the classroom.

Displaying and explaining expectations (image)
Ranui School
Display expectations clearly

Behavioural expectations should be explained and revisited with students frequently.

See the Positive Behaviour for Learning website for more examples.

Source: Positive Behaviour for Learning

Displaying and explaining expectations
Teaching expectations

Sometimes the behavioural expectations of the school or classroom can be ambiguous or confusing for students. Where possible, make explicit and model ways of communicating and relating that contribute to the inclusive culture of the classroom.

Include:

  • discussing and agreeing shared expectations
  • modelling behaviour that supports learning
  • teaching communication and social skills
  • discussing and agreeing how you will respond to behaviours that inhibit learning and affect the well-being of others.
Teaching expectations
Process for reinforcing expectations

State, teach, review, and reinforce positively stated expectations in the classroom

  1. Establish behavioural expectations in the class – including the expectations between students, between adults, and between students and adults (for example, showing respect and consistency).

  2. Teach expectations in the context of routines.

  3. Prompt or remind students of the expectation/rule prior to beginning an activity, for example, prior to going outside for a game.

  4. Monitor students’ behaviour during learning activities and provide specific feedback.

  5. Evaluate the effect of specific instructions given to students – review data, make decisions, and follow up.

Source: How is my classroom management? Simonsen and Sugai

Process for reinforcing expectations
Classroom checklist

Implementing agreed behavioural expectations in your classroom

  1. Are the classroom expectations clearly defined, positively stated, and displayed visually?

  2. Have you limited the expectations to between three and five?

  3. Do you use the language from the expectations in regular, everyday contexts?

  4. Have you planned for teaching, and practising classroom routines and behavioural expectations?

  5. Have you set up an acknowledgement system, which includes frequent, short- and long-term feedback for behaviours that support learning and well-being?

  6. Is specific feedback about behaviour provided at a rate of four positive statements to one corrective statement?

  7. Do you have a system in place for student feedback about agreed expectations of their teacher?

  8. If you have an incentive system, are students aware of the specific criteria. Are the criteria age-appropriate and accessible to a diverse group of students?

  9. Are students reminded of their choices in a calm, positive manner to prevent an escalation in behaviour?

  10. Are the consequences for not following expectations clear and pre-planned?

  11. Are consequences delivered consistently, respectfully, and in a timely manner?

Classroom checklist

Resources and downloads

How is my classroom management?

A PowerPoint presentation from Simonsen and Sugai that helps teachers to review features and practices for behaviour management in the classroom.

What is happening in PB4L school-wide schools in NZ?

A case study from Naenae Primary School, and sample values and expectations posters from NZ PB4L school-wide primary, intermediate, and secondary schools.

Making connections: Small group strategies

This is a list of practical classroom strategies that encourage positive behaviour and effective classrooms.

Positive behaviour for learning: Classroom assessment tool

This checklist supports action planning for positive behaviour in the classroom.

Building relationships with Pasifika students and their fanau

Malae Aloali’i, who has taught English at Aorere College for over 10 years, shares how she establishes caring relationships with her students and fanau, and how this impacts positively on student achievement.

Back to top

Building relationships to support learning and wellbeing

Developing good communication strategies is key to building collaborative relationships that foster understanding and cooperation.

Encourage a supportive peer culture. Recognise and value the practical support peers can give each other.

Source: BLENNZ1 (NZ)

Closed captioning available in player

Suggestions and resources

Using class meetings (image)
DSC03599 Pukekohe
Building relationships

Use class meetings to help students understand the perspectives of others, discuss issues, and agree on classroom behaviours.

Students can often prevent and resolve classroom-related conflict.

Source: Ministry of Education (NZ)

Using class meetings
Supporting friendships

 

  1. Encourage students as they work at making friends with peers. Create opportunities to talk about how to build conversations, expand interactions, and be a good friend.

  2. Be a positive role model and respect individual differences. Model respect, caring, patience, and positive interactions. 

  3. Promote connections around common interests.

  4. Provide opportunities for ongoing student connections.

  5. Help students to join ongoing group activities by finding appropriate roles for them.

  6. Help keep student interactions going – explain the actions of students whose social skills are just developing.

  7. Share information about emergent friendships with parents so they can arrange for students to get together outside class.

Source: Adapted from Promising practices to support friendships in inclusive classrooms

Supporting friendships
Talking about making friends (video)
Helping students discuss friendships

An animated video to support junior classes with talking about friendships.

No captions or transcript available

Source: Start Empathy (UK)

Talking about making friends
Social instruction

Consider the classroom environment and plan opportunities for social instruction.

  1. Provide all students with ongoing opportunities to interact and socialise with their peers.

  2. Promote individual emotional development – model expressions of emotions and self-regulation to students.

  3. Teach skills in situations where and as they are needed.

  4. Promote friendships between students by modelling interest, respect, and warmth.

  5. Encourage teachers’ aides to promote students' independence and interaction with their peers.

  6. Provide specific, positive feedback to students on their ideas and actions.

  7. Reflect and expand students’ verbal communication.

Source: Positive behaviour for learning: Classroom assessment tool

Social instruction
Circle of friends (video)
Creating a student support network

A teacher shares how she uses the Circle of Friends strategy to discuss behaviours and promote inclusion in year 7.

No captions or transcript available

Source: Teachers Media (UK)

Circle of friends

Resources and downloads

Positive behaviour for learning: Classroom assessment tool

This checklist supports action planning for positive behaviour in the classroom.

PB4L – Positive behaviour for learning

PB4L services and contact details. PB4L is for people throughout NZ schools and early childhood centres. Its programmes are for individuals, groups, schools, teachers, parents and whānau. Programmes offer tools for supporting positive behaviour in situations of clear need, and in more settled environments.

My FRIENDS youth resilience programme

This programme aims to help students become confident, lifelong learners and supports the key competencies of the New Zealand Curriculum. It is designed for students aged 12–15 years.

Student mentors, Ngaruawahia High School (image)
PB4L mentor
Students supporting positive behaviour

In this video, PB4L mentor, students model how peer mentors can support them to make successful choices.

Source: Ngaruawahia High School

Student mentors, Ngaruawahia High School
Peer tutoring

 

Peer tutoring is a cooperative learning approach where two students work together. The tuakana-teina relationship provides a model where a more skilled “tutor” works with a less skilled “tutee”.

Benefits for tutees

  • more individual teaching
  • gains in learning
  • gains in social and relationship skills
  • improved attitudes towards learning
  • improved self-esteem

Benefits for tutors

  • practice and reinforcement of skills 
  • learning gains
  • insight into the learning process
  • development of social and relationship skills
  • opportunity for responsibility 
  • development of self-esteem

Benefits for teachers

  • more effective use of time
  • greater coverage of individual needs
  • opportunities to observe students at work, and to assess skills

Source: The three Rs of diversity – Teaching strategies for inclusive classrooms Part 2: Peer tutoring

Peer tutoring
Cooperative learning

Have peers reinforce each other rather than the teacher only reinforcing students. You may need to coach students in their roles in cooperative learning tasks.

  • Ensure each child has a specific task that contributes to the group’s goals.
  • Teach the prerequisite skills for small group work.
  • Review the skills that students need for working together, for example, listening carefully to each other’s ideas, providing feedback in a respectful way, and asking for clarification.
  • Encourage students to self-monitor their levels of participation so that they make sufficient but not excessive contribution.
Cooperative learning
Positive peer interaction (image)
NZC Scenario 35 Numeracy 291
Facilitating positive interactions

Proactively teach peers to support and respond to each other.

Provide models for giving and receiving feedback and feedforward.

Source: Ministry of Education (NZ)

Positive peer interaction

Resources and downloads

Recess for your child with special needs: 7 challenges and solutions

This is a series of suggestions to support students with special needs to participate during playtime and lunchtimes.

20 Collaborative learning tips and strategies for teachers

This is a list of ways to include best practices for collaborative learning in the classroom.

Teaching strategies for inclusive classrooms part 1: Cooperative learning

Information to support setting up a successful cooperative learning programme in your classroom. Created for the NZ Ministry of Education.

Selecting teaching strategies (NZ) (video)
Building strong relationships with your students

Donna Wheeler from Onslow College describes how she matches teaching strategies and learning resources to the student’s interests, experiences, and needs.

Closed captioning available in player

Source: Ministry of Education, inclusive education videos (NZ)

Selecting teaching strategies (NZ)
Knowing your learner (image)
knowing the learner
Explore students’ interests

Silverstream teacher, Linda Ojala explores learning opportunities that connect to students’ interests and experiences and enable them to develop these further.

Source: Linda Ojala

Knowing your learner
Developing quality relationships

The quality of students’ relationships with their teachers is crucial to their becoming motivated and successful learners.

Show your students you care – through personal greetings, pronouncing their names correctly, acknowledging their interests, being aware of their concerns, and sharing their successes and accomplishments with their parents and whānau.

  • Show students you believe in them – identify negative self-talk and promote positive self-talk, communicate your belief that they can succeed, acknowledge special efforts and accomplishments.
  • Show students you trust them – invite them to help with tasks which carry responsibility, offer curriculum choices, and encourage them to help others.
  • Interact through games – playing with students makes the relationship temporarily more equal. It can build intimacy and trust and promote cooperation. Follow the students’ lead rather than instructing them.

Source: PB4L, Proactively preventing challenging behaviour

Developing quality relationships
Valuing students

It’s a matter of valuing someone and seeking the right support. Everyone has the right to be here and everyone deserves to be valued and respected, no matter how they behave. Once you’ve got that mindset then you’re open to whatever professional support is offered.

Source: Teacher, Sonya Carey in Making a Difference: How ten New Zealand schools and early childhood centres are engaging students in positive learning and achievement
Valuing students
Learner-centred design (NZ) (video)
Knowing your students

Linda Ojala describes how, using a UDL approach, she designs learning to meet the specific needs of a student with ASD.

Closed captioning available in player

Source: Ministry of Education, inclusive education videos (NZ)

Learner-centred design (NZ)

Resources and downloads

Detroit Stirling: culture and relationships

Detroit Stirling, learning advisor at Unlimited Paenga Tawhiti, talks about the importance of building relationships with students and colleagues.

Connecting with families, Onslow College (NZ) (video)
Building a learner profile

Talk with parents and caregivers to build a learner profile that is underpinned by their knowledge. Find out what approaches and strategies have worked well for their children. 

Closed captioning available in player

Source: Ministry of Education, inclusive education videos (NZ)

Connecting with families, Onslow College (NZ)
Working with parents

Suggestions for working with parents, caregivers, and whānau to address specific needs and behaviours

  1. Organise a face-to-face meeting with parents and whānau at a place and time suitable to the parents.

  2. Ask parents, caregivers, families and whānau how the student communicates their needs.

  3. Discuss any behaviours the student is presenting at school that inhibit their learning or impact well-being.

  4. Discuss times when the student is engaged in learning or social activities and determine the contributing factors.

  5. Communicate and share information in a meaningful way, demonstrating understanding and support for parents’ concerns.

  6. Value what parents and caregivers have noticed or assessments they have had done outside school.

  7. Collaborate with parents and whānau to discuss behaviours that inhibit learning and impact well-being, and identify responses. Involve parents in determining strategies to support student learning and well-being.

  8. Reassure parents that when incidents occur at school and have been resolved at school, parents are not required to discipline their child any further.

  9. Develop systems for passing on information about a student’s needs, progress, and next steps in ways that are meaningful.

  10. Actively and regularly communicate positive information and achievements to the family. Call their home just to say things are going well at school.

Working with parents
Home-school communication

Schools need to take responsibility for what might happen to a child as a consequence of information they give to parents and whānau about a child's behaviour at school.

The child's safety, ongoing learning, and well-being must be of paramount consideration.

Home-school communication books should be restricted to specific examples of behaviours that support learning and well-being, steps in the right direction, persistence, practising a skill and so on. Include positive ways the parent can help with specific examples.

Home-school communication
Questions to ask families

Communicate with the family to understand the strengths and needs of your students

For Maori students, their tribal structures and cultural practices:

  • whakapapa (genealogy)
  • who they consider to be whānau
  • tikanga - cultural values and practices they use (language, customs, traditions)
  • about their marae.

People in the student’s life:

  • parent, family and whānau hopes and priorities for them
  • the important people in the student’s life
  • the best methods and times to communicate with parents and whānau
  • the professionals working with the family and whānau 
  • the questions they have and the support they would like from the school.

Practical elements:

  • the language/s spoken at home
  • student's medications and allergies
  • the equipment used at home
  • what they do at home to support learning.

Student’s likes and dislikes:

  • their likes, interests, what they’re good at, need help with, and can do independently
  • their dislikes, what can upset them, how they express this, and their calming skills
  • their favourite hobbies, books, songs, sports, TV programmes.

Discuss times when things have gone well for the student and determine the contributing factors.

Questions to ask families

Resources and downloads

Contributions from whānau

Information and examples for classroom teachers to support building positive relationships with parents and whānau that support student learning, from the Inclusive Practices website (NZ).

Family/whānau file

A booklet published by the Ministry of Education to help parents of students with additional needs to brief their child’s school.

Building relationships with Pasifika students and their fanau

Malae Aloali’i, who has taught English at Aorere College for over 10 years, shares how she establishes caring relationships with her students and fanau, and how this impacts positively on student achievement.

Pasifika parent group

Manu Fa'aea-Semeatu, HOD Performing Arts at Rutherford College, discusses her school's website page for Pasifika parents and her ways of engaging Pasifika fanau in senior secondary students’ learning.

Back to top

Integrating positive behaviour supports into classroom practice

Teach behaviour expectations by integrating them into the classroom programme. Provide generous quantities of positive adult/teacher attention and other reinforcement. Pre-teach the skills needed.

A high school English teacher describes how she matches teaching strategies and learning resources to the student’s interests, experiences, and needs.

Source: Ministry of Education, inclusive education videos (NZ)

Closed captioning available in player

Suggestions and resources

Traffic light system (image)
Red, orange, and green counters making a traffic light system
Self advocacy in a primary classroom

Students can point to the appropriate button or tell the teacher how they are finding an activity.

Read this blog post on students using a traffic light system for indicating needs.

Source: BLENNZ Learning Library

Traffic light system
5-point visual scale

Shane was also given the skills to identify and manage his own behaviour.

Over time, he was taught to evaluate his anger on a five-point scale, drawn in the shape of a thermometer.

When he reached his threshold he would remove himself from the class, leaving a special card on his desk to signify he’d done so.

Where did he head? The recycling shed.

That’s where Shane worked with the school’s caretaker, breaking up cardboard boxes as part of the school’s recycling efforts.

It was another smart strategy, for recycling was the one school activity where Shane showed leadership qualities. The caretaker’s unassuming manner and the physical exertion of demolishing boxes worked a treat.

Shane calmed down and the number of exits from class gradually began to reduce as the year wore on.

Source: Making a Difference: How ten New Zealand schools and early childhood centres are engaging students in positive learning and achievement
5-point visual scale
Ideas for developing self-regulation

Self-regulation is a developmental skill that evolves over time

  1. Help the student to recognise emotions and sensations, and their meaning.

  2. Help the student to recognise frustration for themselves and to seek a calming activity.

  3. Teach the student to self-regulate through specific techniques such as deep breathing and positive self-talk. Coach them in patience, persistence, trying hard, concentrating, staying calm, waiting for a turn, and using words to express feelings.

  4. Help the student to understand how peers feel by pointing out facial expressions, voice tone, body language or words.

  5. Teach emotional literacy vocabulary by labelling feelings and responses when the child shares, trades, waits, or helps.

  6. Help the student to know when to avoid certain situations.

Ideas for developing self-regulation
Problem-solving, Stonefields School (NZ) (video)
Developing problem-solving strategies

Students at Stonefields School describe their learning process and how they solve learning problems.

View transcript

Source: Stonefields School (NZ)

Problem-solving, Stonefields School (NZ)
Self-monitoring and reinforcement

Self-monitoring and self-reinforcement can work well to address behavioural, social, and academic needs.

  • Providing a student with an opportunity to compare their performance or participation to a standard they have chosen, the teacher has chosen, or that has been agreed by the student and/or the teacher and the parents.
  • Be aware that the student needs to have the required skills.
  • Make sure the student has a clear understanding of the agreed behaviours.
  • Develop a form for recording performance – use icons and pictures to illustrate behaviours.
  • The student can assess and record their own behaviours and may select and administer awards to themselves.
Self-monitoring and reinforcement

Resources and downloads

Creating an environment that promotes positive behaviour

This prezi by Mary Wittenburg is about establishing and implementing school-wide, individualised, instructional and behavioural strategies that support the learning and positive behaviour of all students.

Creating a classroom environment that promotes positive behaviour

These are guidelines for helping students to learn by promoting positive classroom behaviour and modifying the classroom design to suit all students.

Social stories creator and library for preschool, autism, and special needs

A free app for creating and sharing educational social stories and visual schedules. Download for iPhone and iPad.

My FRIENDS youth resilience programme

This programme aims to help students become confident, lifelong learners and supports the key competencies of the New Zealand Curriculum. It is designed for students aged 12–15 years.

Replacement behaviour principles
  • Jointly construct expectations, responsibilities, responses, and reinforcers with students.
  • Choose the smallest changes that will have the biggest impact.
  • Identify replacement behaviours. Frame these in positive, observable terms.
  • Create an approach for teaching replacement behaviours.
  • Identify reinforcers for behaviours you want to see and responses if the identified behaviour continues.
  • Identify how whole-school initiatives can consistently reinforce what you are doing in the classroom, or how whole-school initiatives can support an individual student.
Replacement behaviour principles
Introducing replacement behaviours
  1. Identify the behaviour you wish to replace.

  2. Measure this behaviour.

  3. Identify the purpose of the behaviour.

  4. Choose an appropriate replacement behaviour.

  5. Identify the current stage of learning – teach the new behaviour.

  6. Determine the level of support.

  7. Track the new behaviour.

  8. Fade assistance.

Introducing replacement behaviours

Resources and downloads

Practical functional behavioral assessment manual for school-based personnel: Participants guidebook

This manual, released by Technical Assistance Centre on Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports, provides a step-by-step guide to understanding Functional Behavioral Assessment.

Teaching appropriate behavior

This is an explanation of eight systematic steps to promote behaviour changes in students as part of a functional behavioural assessment (FBA).

Impact of digital tools (NZ) (video)
Removing barriers to learning

A student with dyspraxia describes how having access to a netbook has transformed his experience of school.

"It is the best thing that ever happened to me at school. It’s just completely changed everything."

Closed captioning available in player

Source: Enabling e-Learning (NZ)

Impact of digital tools (NZ)
Encouraging on-task behaviour

Establish routines and systems of support

  1. Recognise, remove, or minimise things that can cause distress.

  2. Give reminders about self-management strategies, such as taking a break.

  3. Reduce identified behaviours by distracting the student or re-engaging them in another activity.

  4. Learn to recognise signs that a student’s behaviour is escalating, and use verbal messages or cues and alternative calming activities to help calm them.

  5. Ignore minor examples of poor behaviour, especially if the student is following instructions.

  6. Stand in close proximity to the student as a way of moderating off-task activities.

Encouraging on-task behaviour
Varied assessment approaches (image)
Studen with autism Flickr https flic.kr p 7kqM28
Supporting students to succeed

Provide varied assessment approaches that recognise students’ strengths so they can achieve to the best of their ability, and without frustration.

Make available resources such as headphones, so students can minimise distractions.

Source: Nicole Mays

Varied assessment approaches
Inclusive classroom environment

Create an inclusive learning environment to remove barriers to learning

  1. Explain new concepts clearly; take the time to order or sequence information simply and clearly.

  2. Use a mixture of telling, explaining, and directing to convey information and instructions.

  3. Check to ensure that students have retained previously-learned skills before beginning new learning.

  4. Teach new skills using a variety of methods, materials, and contexts. Reinforce abstract concepts with visual and concrete materials.

  5. Encourage problem-solving by relating ideas to meaningful and practical everyday situations.

  6. Provide extra time and opportunities for additional repetition and reinforcement. Where applicable, involve a buddy, parents, or a support teacher.

  7. Adapt learning material so the gap between what a student can do and the new skills or understandings are achievable.

Inclusive classroom environment
Being culturally responsive (NZ) (video)
Classroom pedagogy

Can your students bring their own experiences into the classroom and see that their experiences are legitimate, accepted, and valued?

View transcript

Source: Te Kotahitanga (NZ)

Being culturally responsive (NZ)

Resources and downloads

Positive behaviour for learning: Classroom assessment tool

This checklist supports action planning for positive behaviour in the classroom.

Looking behind behaviour

In this video clip Jake and his parents describe his behaviour at school as a result of having language difficulties. Things changed for him once he gained focused support.

Explaining behaviour contracts

A behaviour contract is an agreement between a student and their teacher, and can also include parents. It sets out the desired behaviours, the behaviours that are not acceptable, the benefits (or rewards) for improving behaviour, and the responses for continuing with particular behaviours.

Behaviour contracts have been shown to work well with a range of behaviours, including attendance, on-task behaviour, playground behaviour, and work accuracy. They can be effective for children of primary, intermediate, and secondary school age.

  • Include who, what, when and how well.
  • Make sure the desired behaviours are in the child’s skill set. Behaviour contracts are for “won’t do” responses rather than “can’t do” responses.
  • Consider different ways to present the contract to support understanding and ease of use, for example, use of symbols and text, hard copy or online. Discuss preferences with the student.

Source: PB4L, Information sheet: Proactively preventing challenging behaviour

Explaining behaviour contracts
Creating a behaviour plan

Once you understand the purpose of the student’s behaviour, use this to inform a plan. Include what you will do to:

  • prevent: make the identified behaviour irrelevant (environmental redesign)
  • model and teach: make the identified behaviour inefficient (teach new skills)
  • extinguish: make the identified behaviour ineffective (minimise reward for that particular behaviour)
  • reinforce: make the behaviour you want to see more rewarding
  • ensure the safety of everyone (what to do in dangerous situations, if needed)
  • deliver consequences: deliver socially valid and age-appropriate consequences immediately after the behaviour occurs.

Source: PB4L, Information sheet: Understanding child behaviour

Creating a behaviour plan
Monitoring student progress

Monitor student progress to inform approaches

Assessments that can be collected frequently and that are sensitive to small changes in student behaviour are recommended.

Determining the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of an approach early is important to maximise the impact of that approach for the student.

Source: Positive behavioural interventions and supports

Monitoring student progress

Resources and downloads

A process for assessing behaviour

This PB4L information sheet includes a series of questions to help assess a student’s behaviour.

Stages in behaviour (image)
Behaviour intensity
Colvin and Sugai’s model of behaviour

In their PowerPoint presentation, Responding to non-responders: Managing escalations, Colvin and Sugai describe each behavioural phase and suggest specific strategies for intervention as student behaviour escalates. 

Source: Responding to non-responders: Managing escalations, Colvin and Sugai, 1989

Stages in behaviour
Identifying triggers

Events, people or things that immediately precede or trigger behaviours are called antecedents.

At school, possible antecedents could include: being yelled at or teased by other children, being told to complete an assignment, experiencing repeated failures or frequent corrections, low rates of positive reinforcement, having a toy taken away, or being told to stop engaging in a preferred activity.

Outside school, possible antecedents could include: reactivity due to stress at home, conflict in interpersonal relationships, lack of sleep or food, experiences of bullying behaviour via social media.

Once the antecedents that trigger the behaviour are identified, several types of approaches can be used:

  • Eliminate the antecedent event (where possible).
  • Encourage the use of a personal management strategy (take a walk or a break in a time-out space).
  • Modify a task to prevent a particular behaviour – identify student preferences and modify a task so that it incorporates student interests.
  • Change task difficulty.
  • Change how instructional content is presented. For example, present a variety of brief activities instead of one longer task.
  • Increase opportunities for choice.
  • Predictability – displaying daily schedules on a visual calendar, modelling new tasks, and rehearsing upcoming events can reduce anxiety and stress.

Source: Antecedent interventions, University of Kansas

Identifying triggers
When behaviour escalates

If the student becomes more agitated, show patience and give them your guidance and direction to increase their sense of security.

Ensure your language is concise and short.

  1. Calmly and clearly tell them what to do (avoid arguing with them).

  2. Where possible and appropriate, give them a choice, then some time to respond.

  3. If necessary, redirect them to another activity, move them to another space, or remove them from the activity or room to calm down. Follow your school’s policies in such instances.

When behaviour escalates
Managing physical aggression

Safety comes first

The goal is to defuse the situation. Assist rather than punish the student. Punishing can escalate a situation.

If the student has a safety plan or an individual behaviour plan, follow the processes outlined in this plan.

If there is no plan, follow your school’s policies:

  • Stay calm, protect other children, set limits, and seek help.
  • Remove the student to another space or another room or remove others from the area. Ask for the student’s cooperation to do this. Say, for example, “Come to the library corner until things have settled”.
  • If there is a pattern to aggression, take preliminary actions such as students taking their shoes off inside if the student kicks or having their fingernails cut short if they scratch.
  • Use approaches that aim to teach social skills and reinforce desired behaviours, combined with planned incentives.
Managing physical aggression
Debriefing

One of the things about these kids is that they often define themselves by one bad event rather than the many positive things that have happened that week. One negative event does not make you a bad person. In the debrief after an incident, we’d ask, “What did you learn from this? Did you manage it the way you needed to? Did you follow the plan?” We tried to put the incidents in context, to focus on the good choices he made and to discuss what he might do differently the next time something went wrong.

Source: Making a Difference: How ten New Zealand schools and early childhood centres are engaging students in positive learning and achievement (page 36)
Debriefing

Resources and downloads

Responding to non-responders: Managing escalations

This PowerPoint from Colvin and Sugai promotes teacher understanding, best practice, and planning to manage escalating behaviour sequences.

Behaviour support tools

These downloadable information sheets from the Positive Behaviour for Learning website cover topics that include the process for responding to an incident, anticipating and responding to child stress, common responses, and safety/behaviour plans.

A process for assessing behaviour

This PB4L information sheet includes a series of questions to help assess a student’s behaviour.

Wellbeing@School

The W@S website supports schools to engage with the whole school community in a self-review process to promote a safe and caring school climate.

Intensive wraparound service

The Intensive Wraparound Service (IWS) facilitates tailored, intensive interventions over a specific time for the small number of children and young people with highly complex and challenging behavioural, social, or education needs – including those associated with an intellectual disability.

PB4L – Positive behaviour for learning

PB4L services and contact details. PB4L is for people throughout NZ schools and early childhood centres. Its programmes are for individuals, groups, schools, teachers, parents and whānau. Programmes offer tools for supporting positive behaviour in situations of clear need, and in more settled environments.

Back to top

Increasing attention, encouragement, praise, and incentives

Use praise consistently and frequently, especially when students are first learning a skill or focused on managing their behaviour in a new way. Work in close partnership with those that know the student well when a more individualised approach is needed.

Give more attention to behaviours that support learning and wellbeing than to behaviours that don't.

Source: Te Māngaroa (NZ)

No captions or transcript available

Suggestions and resources

Addressing negative self-worth (image)
Teacher and students working in a small group
Additional praise and encouragement

Students exhibiting behaviours that compromise learning and wellbeing are likely to have a negative self-evaluation and low self-worth. They may not trust adults. They need additional amounts of praise and encouragement. They are more likely to miss praise, particularly if it’s delivered in a neutral tone, is vague, or infrequent.

Source: Ministry of Education (NZ)

Addressing negative self-worth
Using encouragement effectively

Carefully select rewards, encouragement, and praise and personalise them to ensure that they are age-appropriate.

  • Give more attention and praise to behaviours that support learning and well-being than to behaviours that don’t.
  • Aim for a 4:1 ratio of positive to negative attention.
  • Pinpoint what it is about the behaviour that is helpful or useful and be specific in your praise. “You’ve done a good job of setting out the materials” rather than, “Good job”.
  • Don’t wait for behaviour to be perfect before praising.
  • Use praise consistently and frequently, especially when a student is first learning a skill or behaviour.
  • Focus on a student’s efforts and learning, not just the end result.
  • For a particularly challenging situation, have a plan for the student and use praise and encouragement strategically to support your goals for that person.
  • Promote student self-praise. For example, say, “You must feel proud of yourself for …”
  • Keep your praise straight. Avoid combining praise with put-downs, such as “You picked up the toys like I asked but next time how about doing it before I have to ask?”
  • Balance your praise of academic and social behaviours and remember to praise aspects of a child’s personality, such as thoughtfulness or patience as well as persistence with tasks.
  • Use praise that is not always specific to a particular behaviour, for example, “It is fun working with you”.

Source: PB4L, Information sheet: Attention, encouragement, praise and incentives

Using encouragement effectively
Examples of recognition

Students prefer the following categories of recognition:

  • Quality time with adults and/or peers
  • Escape from a task or chore
  • Earning special privileges
  • Physical touch, such as high fives or special handshakes
  • Earning leadership roles
  • Social praise
  • Special assistance (help with a task or chore)
  • Tangible rewards

Source: Dr. Laura A. Riffel (2014). Free or inexpensive reinforcements for school personnel and parents. Behavior Doctor Seminars

Examples of recognition
Building self-worth

The child exhibiting behaviours that compromise learning and well-being is most likely to have a negative self-evaluation and low self-worth.

They are also more likely to miss praise, particularly if it’s delivered in a neutral tone, or is vague or infrequent. Supply them with extra amounts of positive and consistent praise and encouragement. They need it more often than most.

Pinpoint what it is about the behaviour and be specific in your
praise. Say, “You’ve done a good job setting out your data,” rather than “You’ve done a good job.”

Source: Cochrane, J. (2011) If children are misbehaving or disruptive, then they’re not learning. Ministry of Education New Zealand

Building self-worth

Resources and downloads

Information sheet: The role of attention, encouragement, praise and incentives in positive behaviour and learning

This information sheet provides ideas on the best use of incentives and praise in the classroom and school from the Positive Behaviour for Learning website.

Criteria for successful systems

Take a universal approach

  1. Include all students.

  2. Use recognition and rewards that students want and value and are agreed with students.

  3. Use public recognition to highlight models for other students.

  4. Recognise everyone.

  5. Increase reinforcement before and during the times that are most difficult – for example, before holidays, after traumatic events.

Source: Adapted from: Supporting Positive Behaviour in Alberta Schools Dwaine M Souveny Central Alberta Regional Consortium 2010-2011(Key element #4 - Understanding student behaviour)

Criteria for successful systems
Rewarding young students' behaviours (image)
Positive behaviour flickr
Rewards and bribes

Reward behaviours that demonstrate engagement in learning rather than bribe students to behave.

Rewards are given for behaviours after they have occurred.

Bribes are given before the behaviour occurs.

Source: Enokson

Rewarding young students' behaviours
Using incentives effectively

Use incentives to promote behaviours that support learning and wellbeing

  • Identify one or two behaviours you want to see more of. These may be for the whole class or as individual goals according to a student's particular needs.
  • The reward process should be planned in advance with the student(s). It should be specific.
  • Explain which behaviours will result in rewards.
  • Select the incentives. Stars and stickers are good motivators for younger students. Older students like to earn points, tickets, or chips to trade in for something they have chosen from a reward list.
  • Always combine tangible rewards with social rewards, such as labeled praise and encouragement.

Check: 

  • Are students aware of the specific criteria for earning rewards?
  • Are rewards age-appropriate and accessible to a diverse group of students?
  • Does the reward system for behaviours include frequent, short- and long-term feedback?

Source: PB4L, Information sheet: The role of attention, encouragement, praise and incentives in positive behaviour and learning

Using incentives effectively
Tangible rewards

Tangible rewards are a temporary measure to help children learn new behaviours. They must be accompanied by a social reward (the message that accompanies the reward) so that you can phase out the tangible reward.

Tangible rewards

Resources and downloads

Free or inexpensive reinforcements for school personnel and parents

This paper suggests effective reinforcements that are available to teachers.

Information sheet: The role of attention, encouragement, praise and incentives in positive behaviour and learning

This information sheet provides ideas on the best use of incentives and praise in the classroom and school from the Positive Behaviour for Learning website.

Selecting authentic teaching materials (NZ) (video)
Know your learner

Donna Wheeler from Onslow College describes how she matches her teaching strategies and learning resources to students’ interests, experiences, and needs.

Closed captioning available in player

Source: Ministry of Education, inclusive education videos (NZ)

Selecting authentic teaching materials (NZ)
Routines and systems

Encourage on-task behaviour through clear routines and systems

  1. Scan the classroom so that you always know what is going on.

  2. Circulate through the room to check each student's progress and provide support where necessary.

  3. Remove or minimise things that can cause distress.

  4. Recognise signs that a student’s behaviour is escalating and use verbal messages, cues, or alternative calming activities.

  5. Move closer to students who are off-task.

  6. Verbally prompt students to return to work if they are off-task. Remind them specifically what they should be doing.

  7. Stay near students until you are sure they are back on-task.

Routines and systems
Suggestions to support attention

These suggestions can be effective when used alone or as part of a comprehensive behaviour intervention plan.

  • Seat the student close to the source of instruction.
  • Provide a quiet area for desk work.
  • Connect the student with others who model on-task behaviour. 
  • Ensure students have adequate physical space between them.
  • Increase the amount of time the student has to complete the task.
  • Break assignments into smaller tasks. 
  • Help the student to determine what tasks need to be done and in what order. 
  • Consider using a timer to help the student track the amount of time they have to complete a task.
  • Reduce the amount of work the student must complete.
  • Provide guidance in a range of formats, such as visual and hands-on models, written directions, and verbal directions.
  • Give frequent feedback on things the student is doing well.
  • Provide digital support, such as video, for students to return to as often as necessary. 
  • Use cues to encourage the student to get back on task. Agree ahead of time what those cues will be.

Source: Adapted from, Improving attention – tips to improve attention

Suggestions to support attention
On task and learning

Ensure on task behaviours are focused on learning

Alton-Lee and Nuthall found many "on task" behaviours of low achievers, in particular, were not facilitative of learning. These included colouring in, providing page frames, drawing headings, and sitting quietly as asked rather than interrupting the teacher, and clarifying difficulties as high achievers were observed to do. The teacher played a key role in maintaining unproductive engaged behaviour from low achievers.

Source: Quality Teaching for Diverse Students in Schooling: Best Evidence Synthesis Iteration (BES)

On task and learning

Resources and downloads

Information sheet: The role of attention, encouragement, praise and incentives in positive behaviour and learning

This information sheet provides ideas on the best use of incentives and praise in the classroom and school from the Positive Behaviour for Learning website.

Positive feedback from peers (video)
Feedback shapes behaviour

Positive feedback from peers is a powerful technique to shape student behaviour.

Teach students how to give specific feedback and provide opportunities for them to practise doing this.

No captions or transcript available

Source: Tim Bedley (US)

Positive feedback from peers
Giving specific feedback

Give specific information about a student’s current behaviour in order to help them to continue or to modify the behaviour.

  • All comments should be based on observable behaviour and not on assumed motives or intents.
  • Positive comments should be made first to give the student confidence and gain their attention.
  • Language should describe specific behaviours rather than include general comments or indicate value judgments.
  • Feedback should emphasise the sharing of information. There should be opportunities for both parties to contribute.
  • Keep feedback simple and specific. If it is too detailed or too broad it may "overload" the student.
Giving specific feedback
Effective feedback

Give specific feedback that is:

  • descriptive, not labelling
  • focused on the behaviour, not the learner
  • based on observations
  • well-timed
  • focused on agreed goals or learning outcomes
  • brief 
  • part of your regular teaching process.
Effective feedback
Academic feed forward (NZ) (video)
Focus on learning

Move towards providing more academic feed forward than behaviour feedback.

View transcript

Source: Te Mangōroa (NZ)

Academic feed forward (NZ)

Resources and downloads

Information sheet: The role of attention, encouragement, praise and incentives in positive behaviour and learning

This information sheet provides ideas on the best use of incentives and praise in the classroom and school from the Positive Behaviour for Learning website.

Back to top

This is a Ministry of Education initiative

Building a world-leading education system that equips all New Zealanders with the knowledge, skills, and values to be successful citizens in the 21st century.