In an international classroom, there are usually between 15 and 20 students. 15 to 20 children with their own individual experiences, strengths, and weaknesses. Therefore, it is very common that there will be at least one student with behavioural issues. So, the question rises: how can you manage and help this student, so that everybody has the best opportunity to learn?

The most common strategy is to write an individual behaviour management plan, or also called a behaviour intervention plan (BIP), for the student or a class. A behaviour management plan identifies the behaviour of concern and the desired behaviour. It includes action taking, intervention, rewards, and consequences. (McDonald, 2020) To write a behaviour management plan it is crucial that the teacher knows the student or the class well.

According to French, Henderson, & Lavay (2007), there are four simple steps to create an individualized behaviour management plan:

  1. Identify Behaviour
  2. Observing and Analysing behaviour
  3. Developing and implementing the intervention to change the behaviour
  4. Evaluating and monitoring the plan
  5. Additional steps could include establishing a planning team and doing additional assessments. (Planning for Individual behaviour, n. d.).

Step 1: Identify Behaviour

To start a behaviour management plan, the teacher needs to identify the problematic behaviour and the desired behaviour. Identifying the problematic and desired behaviour can be done by asking ourselves:

  • What behaviour do I want from this student or the class?
  • What is appropriate and what is inappropriate?
  • Which behaviour will lead to success and a good classroom environment?

According to French, Henderson, & Lavay (2007), “the behaviour must be measurable and defined in objective terms, with a clear beginning and end” and they should be understandable. If there is more than one issue, they should be ranged by which one is the severest and needs to be addressed first. (Planning for Individual Behaviour, n. d.)

To identify the behaviour, it is also important to look at internalizing and externalizing behaviour. Internalizing behaviour affects the child inwards and mentally, leading to anxiety or depression. Externalizing behaviour affects the physical environment and is directed outwards, leading to aggression or hyperactivity. (Chen, Lewis & Liu, 2011)

Case Study

Ms. Swan is the teacher of Grade 1. She is concerned about her student Camille. Camille is a 7-year-old girl, who disrupts the classroom frequently. During recess, she shows aggressive behaviour towards her peers by hitting, pulling hair, or pushing. After talking with Camille’s parents and the headmaster, it is decided that they will write and implement a behaviour management plan for Camille. Ms. Swan starts to identify the problematic externalizing behaviour and ranks them in their importance:

  • Physically harming others during recess (hitting, pulling hair, pushing).
  • Interrupting the class by teasing others, talking, walking around the classroom, playing with pencils.

After identifying the problematic behaviour, Ms. Swan writes down the desired behaviour:

  • Instead of physical harm, students will use verbal language to communicate during a conflict.
  • Students will learn to be empathetic and kind towards others.
  • Students will interrupt the class less.


Step 2: Observing behaviour

After identifying the behaviour of the students or a class, the teacher should observe and analyse the student to find out more information. This includes looking at the child’s background, finding out when the problematic behaviour started and any other existing information. (French, Henderson, & Lavay, 2007) It is also important to talk to the student itself, the family, and other faculty members to learn more about the child. It should be analysed how frequently the problems occur and if there are trigger points (e.g. working with other peers, specific subjects). By observing and analysing it should also be noted that the focus should not only be on the negative behaviour, but also the positive behaviour to identify when specific behaviour occurs or not. The collected data is also known as baseline data. (Planning for Individual Behaviour, n. d.)

Case Study

Ms. Swan decided to learn some more about Camille and talks with her parents. She learns that Camille’s parents split up a few weeks ago and that she lives with her mother now, while her older brother lives with her dad. Both parents speak English and work full-time. When Camille’s mom is working, a nanny picks her up and takes her home.

There was no problematic behaviour in Kindergarten. By talking with her colleagues, Ms. Swan finds out that Camille’s aggressive behaviour started about 6 weeks ago.

Furthermore, she decided that she will focus first on Camille’s aggressive behaviour during recess and observe Camille closer for the next two weeks to identify what triggers her behaviour and how frequently it occurs. She learns that Camille uses aggressive behaviour during recess to show her disagreement with others. She plays a lot with the other girls’ horses and stables. When one of Camille’s friends does something Camille does not want, she wants them to stop and do what she says, which her friends then ignore, which leads to a conflict. The first grade has recess two times a day for 20 minutes, and during the two-week observation she sees Camille’s behaviour 12 times out of 20. Ms. Swan also notices that Camille shows no aggressive behaviour when she plays other games with peers which do not include role-play.


Step 3: Developing and implementing the intervention to change the behaviour

In this step the actual behaviour management plan will be written. The plan should include the goals which the students should achieve and the different behaviour strategies and routines which are going to be implemented. Those goals are best written as SMART goals. (Planning for Individual Behavior, n. d.)

In the best case, the plan should be developed with the student together, so the student can be responsible to change his/her own behaviour. Furthermore, there should also be positive reinforcements (e.g. praise, token system) and consequences for inappropriate behaviour (e.g. time-out, no play time) implemented in the plan. (French, Henderson, & Lavay, 2007) It is important for the educator to understand that it will take time till change occurs and the plan needs to be implemented consistently. 

Case Study

After the two-week observation, Ms. Swan has collected a lot of data on Camille and her behaviour. Camille’s behaviour management plan will focus on her aggressive behaviour during recess. Ms. Swan and Camille sit together to write SMART goals for Camille:

  • In about 4 weeks, Camille will try to use language to communicate her dislike by learning different sentence starters.
  • In about 4 weeks, Camille will try to be kinder and nicer to her peers by communicating with them and being open to their play ideas.
  • In about 4 weeks, Camille will try to notice when she gets mad by learning to recognize her feelings and how to deal with them.

Ms Swan will implement these strategies:

  • Teaching Camille sentence starters to communicate her dislike of something or other ideas.
  • Providing different equipment during recess with other students, e.g. balls, jump ropes, chalk.
  • Learning about feelings, and how we can express them.
  • Strategies to handle emotions, e.g. quiet time, reading, drawing.

Ms. Swan will also implement these positive reinforcements and consequences:

Positive reinforcement:

  • Recognizing good behaviour: “You play very nicely” “Good job!” “That was very nice of you”.
  • Using different equipment at recess.

Consequences for inappropriate behaviour:

  • No play time, I need to stay with the teacher during recess.
  • No equipment.
  • Reminder of appropriate behaviour.

Step 4: Evaluating and monitoring the plan

The last step is to monitor the plan and evaluate. The teacher should continue to watch the student or the class to evaluate if the strategies are effective and if there are any changes. Additionally, this will help to see if the goals are achieved or if there needs to be a change in the plan. (Planning for Individual Behaviour, n. d.)

Case Study

Ms. Swan introduces the plan to her colleagues and asks them to implement it as well. Camille and Ms. Swan agreed to test it for 4 weeks and then meet again, to talk about her process and to discuss if new strategies need to be implemented or if they continue as before.


Final Thoughts

A behaviour management plan can be an easy and accessible tool for the teacher to solve behaviour issues in the classroom. However, it is important to note that a behaviour management plan might not work with every student, since every student is individual and unique. For some students, a behaviour management plan can work, while others may need a different approach.

For a behaviour management plan, it is also important that everyone is on the same page. The student, the parents and the other teachers of the class need to agree and to read the plan to successfully implement it. Then only if the plan with the strategies, the consequences and the positive reinforcements is used consistently change can happen.

A behaviour management plan should also be as detailed as possible and easy to understand, since other teachers, the parents, and the student should be able to read it too. If the plan is detailed, it will be easier to implement it as there are no gaps where you have to guess.

On condition that the teacher pays attention to small things, a successful behaviour management plan can be written and implemented in the classroom, to approve the classroom environment and social emotional well-being.


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Inclusive Perspectives in Primary Education Copyright © 2021 by room305 and Inclusive Education Class 2020-2021 is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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