Trouble In Paradise

Positive Behavior Plans

“The inability to function socially or emotionally is as much of a learning disorder as the inability to read”, according to Dr. Ross Greene (Hoffman-Zak, 2008, p.12). Individual behavior change plans can help the student who has significant or persistent behavioral issues address these miscues. This is realized by initiating a personalized approach to teaching the child new social skills and by doing so, improve his/her behavior (Jones & Jones, 2007). The first and foremost advantage of this type of strategy is that it is a systematic and sequential form of inquiry. It requires the teacher to begin the process by identifying one or two specific behaviors that need correction (Jones & Jones, 2007). It then mandates that we examine the maladaptive behavior more closely. In the course of conducting this functional behavior assessment, the spirit of the following questions is put to the student. In the course of offering a response the child will be encouraged to identify, analyze and take responsibility for the occurrence. However the interrogatives are phrased we need to ascertain the answers to the following points. How often does the behavior occur? Are there particular triggers causing the child to act in such a way? What fundamental need of the student is being met by this behavior? What interventions have proved successful or unsuccessful? Are there any environmental factors in the classroom that are exacerbating the situation? How will these be changed? (Jones & Jones, 2007). In this manner, we will also involve the teacher in analyzing the safe and secure aspect of the classroom climate, as well as his/her teaching methods to be sure that they are not contributing factors.

Following the functional assessment, the teacher and other collaborating personal select productive strategies that will assist the student learn the new skills needed to correct the old habits. These can include modeling by the teacher, role playing by the student(s), and self-monitoring through the use of “countoons”, etc. Social, token or activity reinforcements may also be considered and implemented. In addition, a behavior contract may be necessary in order to have a written record of the plan, as well as make the proposition more clear to the participants. Additional options may well necessitate the inclusion of parents or other community members in the process. Close cooperation among the staff is of paramount importance. Cafeteria workers, bus drivers, administrators, parents and community members may all have a role to play. As such each will have a responsibility for certain interventions at appropriate times (Jones & Jones, 2007).

Finally our efforts, as well as the child’s behavior trajectory will have to be monitored and analyzed as part of the evaluation process. To do this we will need to discuss and interpret the collected data. During the frequent meetings called for the purpose of systematic review, we can use this information to maintain, calibrate or completely overhaul the agreed upon behavioral change arrangement.

Individual behavior plans are based upon the assumption that appropriate behavior is a learned skill and that maladroit deportment is the result of the failure to meet the child’s needs and/or the teacher’s failure to offer engaging learning activities (Jones & Jones, 2007). Since these assumptions are based on scientific research that has been empirically tested, we should be assured that the aforementioned plans play a significant role in any classroom management schemata.



Initiating strategies to deal with students who have significant or persistent behavioral issues


  1. Determine the specific behaviors that need to be changed.

  2. Conduct a functional assessment by asking the following question related to data collection:

a. How frequently does the behavior occur?
b. What antecedents seem to precede the problem behavior?
c. What happens as a consequence of the behavior that may be reinforcing or maintaining it?
d. What function do you think this behavior is serving the student?
e. What interventions have you already attempted to modify the behavior?
f. What environmental modifications can be made to reduce the likelihood that the student will need to use the problem behavior.

3. Determine the changes needed to be made in the school environment to support the student.4.

4. Determine the strategies to be used to assist the student in developing new behavior skills (modeling, role playing, self-monitoring, social, token or activity reinforcements, behavior contracts, parental notification and as a last resort, curtailing enjoyable activities).

5. Assign responsibility to staff for implementing each intervention.

6. Determine the data to be collected for the purpose of effectiveness of interventions.

7. Set a date to review the program.

Jones & Jones, 2007.


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