One of the most difficult parts of behavior plans is finding reinforcers that are effective and long-lasting. Many times I hear in meetings that the behavior plan worked for a couple of weeks, but now the student is no longer interested or motivated by the rewards. Most any students will soon become tired of a reinforcer unless it is regularly changed. I find this also true with my own children!
Reward menus are a good strategy to use to prevent this problem. Instead of designing a behavior plan around having only one reward for accomplishing the goal, try letting students select among several possibilities. Depending on the needs of the students, the reward menu could be used at the end of a week, the end of a day, or for especially challenging students, it can be used several times throughout the day. I have typically used a “menu” that has four choices, similar to the one below.
You can make a reward menu for students based on their interest inventories and rotate the rewards every couple of weeks. Many schools have PBIS “dollars” or “bucks” which are a good option for one of choices since typically the students are working towards a bigger “prize”. Rewards choices do not need to be large or tangible…..just being the line leader is a choice that many children may want or making a positive phone call home to their parent. If you are having difficulty coming up with different ideas, here is a list of some different choices.
After you have added the choices to the reward menu, you can staple into a behavior folder, so the student can see their options each day or week. Once they start to become tired of the same rewards, switch it up and create a new reward menu and eventually space out the rewards as the student is meeting their goals. If you would like to check out some different reward menus I created, click HERE.
Students that have challenging behaviors are more difficult to bond with and often have fewer adult relationships. As a teacher, it is important to go out of your way to show your students that you like them and value them. It can be as simple as standing at the door and greeting each student and asking them questions about sports or hobbies they are interested in which will help foster positive relationships.
One way to help learn about your students and their individual interests is an Interest Inventory. This can easily be incorporated into the first couple weeks of school when students are learning about classroom expectations. In addition to having students complete an inventory, you can also send home an inventory for parent to complete in order to give a complete picture of the child.
The answers on the interest inventories can later be used in a reward menu for students who need an individual behavior plan. I will have a future post on different ways to incorporate reward menus into a behavior plan.
Here are some other creative ways to get to know your students.
If you would like to get a copy of the two student interest inventories and one parent inventory, click HERE.
Many inappropriate behaviors occur because the student is trying to get attention or avoid a task. This intervention, “Appointment Cards”, helps give students the attention they want but at a more appropriate time that is designated by you. As the teacher you need to give them the message that they are not in control of your classroom and that there is a more appropriate time to address the issue. If you do not want to stop instruction, then you can use appointment cards to formalize the process.
Let students know that you want to talk about the issue, but not at that moment and they can make an appointment to talk with you at a designated time. You can also use the appointment cards when YOU want to make an appointment with a student to discuss their behavior.
This can be especially helpful for students who are on an individual behavior point system. Assign a point value for completing the card and they will be reinforced for completing the appointment card instead of continuing the disruptive behavior. It is important to continue to give students different strategies that they can use and when students use one of these strategies, you should reward or reinforce that choice.
I made a set of that will be added to my behavior intervention toolkit. You can get a set of them FREE here.
The next addition to my toolkit for next year are Statement Cards. When students engage in disruptive behavior (talking, out of seat, ect.) during instruction, it typically makes the teacher stop instruction in order to redirect the student. The purpose of statement cards are to allow the teacher to redirect the student without stopping instruction and possibly becoming entangled in a power struggle. The teacher simply places the card on the students desk and continues with the lesson.
It is just as important to reinforce positive behavior, especially in students who typically have behavioral issues. Generally, in order to change negative behaviors, positive behavior must be reinforced at a more frequent rate than correcting negative behaviors, so half the cards have positive statements.
I made the cards to match with a common color behavior system that some teachers use in their class with green, blue and purple being the positive statements and red, orange, and yellow being the corrective statements.
These cards can also be used in conjunction with an individual behavior plan that incorporates a point system. Teachers can give students chances to earn more points if they receive a positive card or use the corrective cards as warnings before points are taken away.
Cards can be kept in the front of the room or on the teachers desk in a filing system such as the one below. They could also be placed on the teachers lanyard, so they are accessible at all times.
You can get your FREE copy of 12 statement cards (6 positive and 6 corrective) by clicking on the following link.
In preparation for next year, I decided to start making a toolbox of resources. In the past, I have worked with a number of children who have trouble with self control….either they have never been taught the skills or cannot control their actions and need some additional strategies to help them out! I made four different colored cards that can been used in a number of different ways. I got the cute polka dot background from here.
After a small group lesson on teaching self control strategies (take a deep breath, count to 10, ect.), these cards can be given to students as a visual reminder. Students can keep the card in their desk or tape it to the top of the desk. When teachers start seeing signs of frustration, they can refer the student to their cue card.
Another way to use the cards could be within a classroom self reflection center. I hope to make a future post on classroom self reflection centers. These cue cards could be kept in a basket of “calming tools” for students.
Teachers could also display the cards on a poster within the classroom, so all students can see it and be directed towards it, when frustration is mounting.
I printed out four cards of each color to keep in my office. You can get your copy FREE here. Enjoy!