Applied Classroom Behaviour


You are the best example of consistent mature respectful behaviour in your student’s life. At all times all members of the teaching team must exemplify calm mature behaviours.


You cannot change another person’s behaviour, but you can change the environment around that behaviour. We develop behaviours because the behaviour gets us what we need from that environment.


Student anxiety is the cause of most behaviour problems. Much of the following is about reducing anxiety in the classroom. What causes distress in your students?  What causes embarrassment in your class? 


The impacts of abuse and neglect on children’s social functioning include the need for control; attachment difficulties (including attachment to school); poor peer relationships; and the instability arising from frequent moving. Children who have been abused and neglected often have intense shame responses to perceived failures or insults and to the experience of being disciplined.

Recovery from trauma will occur best in the context of healing relationships.


On day one negotiate and set the expectations and consequences for behavior in your classroom.
Make your expectations clear and explicit. e.g.




Use the school’s reward systems but also establish an in-class reward system.


Sporadic attendance and fractious environments mean that students need as much routine and consistency as we can give them.


Teaching children self-regulation is an important skill that can help them manage their emotions, behaviours, and thoughts in an effective way.

Remember, teaching self-regulation takes time and practice, so be patient and consistent with your effort.


Trauma is common in your students. Violent displays of emotion are common in the community and students will model this behaviour. However, our role is to teach more widely accepted forms of expression.


If you are in an area with strong cultural relationship structures establish a family map of appropriate relationships between students so that students know how they are related to each other and their kinship obligations and appropriate behaviours.

In areas with inter-tribal conflict families often straddle the divide, explore these relationships to see if you can build connections.


Share issues with your senior staff, they may have some insight into your students. Check previous records of misbehaviour and add data to these systems so that we can track problems and better support the children.

Extreme Behaviour

It is rare but when extreme behaviour occurs safety for you and your class is your primary concern. If you can’t isolate the perpetrator, you need to move the class away from the person for everyone’s protection and safety. Your class needs an evacuation plan for such situations.

For example. Jane is teaching math to her grade 6 class when John arrives in a heightened state and threatens the class. Jane cannot talk John out of the room and lock the door, so she declares. “OK Class, it’s buddy time. John will wait here.”  Her class stands and quickly moves to their buddy class.  Jane then calls senior staff for assistance. Read this Management of Actual or Potential Aggression (MAPA) document

Note: You may only restrain a child if they are a danger to themselves or others. Always have a physical and emotional exit available for them. Backed into a corner everybody’s natural reaction is to lash out.

Recurring Behaviors

Sometimes an individual responds differently to consequences than the way you would expect.

What is Applied Behaviour Analysis.

Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) is based on the science of learning and behaviour.

Often used for children with autism or behavioural difficulties.

Behaviour analysis helps us to understand:

ABA applies our understanding of how behaviour works to real situations. 

Our goal is to increase behaviours that are helpful and decrease behaviours that are harmful or affect learning.

When a behaviour is followed by something that is valued, a person is more likely to repeat that behaviour. 

Antecedent, Behaviour, Consequence

Understanding antecedents (what happens before a behaviour occurs) and consequences (what happens after the behaviour) is another important part of any ABA program.

The following three steps – the “A-B-Cs” – help us teach and understand behaviour:

Antecedent: this is what occurs right before the target behaviour. It can be verbal, such as a command or request. It can also be physical, such as a toy or object, or a light, sound, or something else in the environment. An antecedent may come from the environment, from another person, or be internal (such as a thought or feeling).

Behaviour: this is the person’s response or lack of response to the antecedent. It can be an action, a verbal response, or something else.  

Consequence: this is what comes directly after the behaviour. It can include positive reinforcement of the desired behaviour or no reaction for incorrect/inappropriate responses.

Looking at A-B-Cs helps us understand:

Positive Reinforcement

First, identify a goal behaviour. Each time the person uses the behaviour or skill successfully, they get a reward. The reward is meaningful to the individual – examples include praise, a toy or book, watching a video, access to the playground or other location, and more.

Positive rewards encourage the person to continue using the skill. Over time this leads to meaningful behaviour change. 

It is important not to provide any reaction to negative behaviours as that attention is probably the reward the individual is seeking.

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