Positive Behavior Supports: Attention Maintained Behavior

512860481Some students, for various reasons, require more attention than others and may act out to obtain that attention. In behavior circles this is known as attention-seeking, or more appropriately, attention-maintained behavior because responding to these overt “requests” for attention will support or maintain the unwanted negative behavior. The recipe for combating this is as follows:

  • Planned ignoring, which means ignoring the behavior but not the child, is the key to extinguishing or at least diminishing this behavior
    • Make no eye contact or gestures toward the child while he is misbehaving, this could accidentally reinforce the behavior
    • If another student points out the behavior, nod or mildly acknowledge that child’s concern without acknowledging the behavior or calling more attention to it.
    • Over time, peers will learn how to ignore the behavior themselves.
    • You might say something like “thank you Suzie, and I really like how you’re sitting quietly on the rug”
    • This ignoring stops the instant the child becomes compliant with expectations
    • Be prepared to praise the student as often as possible for this compliance
    • Praise must be given before the child reverts back to negative measures for attention
    • Waiting to provide the attention could accidentally reinforce a subsequent negative behavior
    • It is a careful balancing act that requires a lot of attention to detail in the beginning
  • Acknowledge and praise other students for appropriate behavior
    • if the target student is not sitting appropriately, give specific verbal praise to others for “sitting with their feet on the floor” or “sitting crisscross applesauce”
    • if he is not walking in the hallway, give specific verbal feedback to others who are “walking nicely on the green line” or “staying directly behind the student in front of them”
    • if he is talking out of turn, never acknowledge this behavior by addressing it as “blurting” or “talking out”, instead verbally thank others for “keeping a bubble in their mouth” or “waiting quietly to be called on”
  • When the child complies with expectations, reinforce the behavior with acknowledgement, praise as quickly as possible,  and make sure he knows how he earned it
    • Thank him for “sitting so nicely on the rug”
    • Put a sticker on his chart while he is watching you
    • Tell him you’re “moving his clip to purple for being such as good listener”
    • Give him a ticket and verbal praise for “lining up quickly and quietly”
    • Punch his card and verbally praise him for “sharing materials with a peer”
    • Give him Class Dojo points while making eye contact and giving him a thumbs up for “waiting patiently for his turn at your table”
  • Provide as much non-contingent positive attention to the child as possible when he is behaving appropriately. You might think of this as a random act of kindness. Some ideas are:
    • pat him on the shoulder
    • give a high five or side hug when he arrives in the morning
    • give him a thumbs up
    • check in during solo time
    • call on him to respond to questions in class
    • give him classroom tasks to complete such as turning off the light or sharpening pencils
    • make eye contact and smile
  • Realize that all of these are good teaching strategies that can, and should, be employed with all of your students, but should be more purposefully given to the student with attention maintained behavior.
  • Also note that over time, you should begin to diminish or fade the “extra” attention to the level of the rest of the class.
    • Give smaller, less obvious, types of attention
    • Give fewer, less often, occurrences of attention
    • Always continue to give as much attention as you are giving to other typical students in your classroom

There are hyperlinks above for editable tickets and punch cards that are free on TeachersPayTeachers. These are easy to make yourself, but even better when you start from someone else’s template.


Supporting Angry Students

enhanceWhen your student becomes angry and even hostile, you as the teacher must remain in control and do what is best for the student and the class. Here are a few tips and strategies to get you and the class through the situation and on to better days.

  1. Stay calm. Take a deep breath.
  2. Do not take it personally.
  3. Take a moment to collect yourself if necessary. Do not respond to the student in an overly negative or positive manner. You should have a neutral affect. Your attitude and response will set the tone for what happens next.
  4. Step back from the student in a supportive, non-threatening, but firm stance. You should not be close enough to get injured should things take a negative turn.
  5. Provide information, but do not get into a verbal power struggle with the student.
  6. Provide a cool down spot for the student.
  7.  Once calm, help student to use problem solving to work through the situation.
  8. Document episodes to determine the trigger(s).
  9.  This behavior is typically caused by one or a combination of the following:
    • Peer Influence
    • Modeling by peers or adults
    • Lack of Social Skills
    • Negative self-image
  10.  If Peer influence is determined to be part of the problem, remove the student from access to the peer as much as possible, especially if the peer is the trigger.
  11. If negative self-image, home life or adult modeling is determined to be part of the problem, the student may benefit from joining a group led by the school counselor to learn coping skills to avoid this behavior.
    • Small group counseling with students who have similar needs
    • PALS – one on one with an older student to provide support and stability
  12.  If Social Skills is determined to be part of the problem, set aside time each week to teach him the deficient social skills that contribute to this behavior.

These pieces take time to create an implement in your classroom. Do not stress yourself out over trying to do it all at once. You know your student best and can use that knowledge to guide you in which pieces to implement over time. These behaviors were not learned in a day and they are not going to be corrected in a day either. I would suggest that you give a strategy at least two weeks of consistent use before determining that it doesn’t work. Often if it does not seem to be working, it is not being implemented correctly. If at first you don’t succeed, try it again, in a different way, until you get it right. I look forward to hearing your success stories.


Student Behavior Self-Assessment & Goal Setting

Student self-assessment and progress monitoring for academic goals is a great way of teaching students to recognize their strengths and weaknesses as well as being responsible for their improvement. So, why not take it a step further and have students self assess and progress monitor their behavior as well. This is actually a Tier 1 behavior strategy that works for all students in your classroom, not just those who are struggling with specific behaviors. There is always room for all of us to improve our behavior and make better choices. In fact, I’m working on putting together a Teacher self-assessment as well that will give teachers the opportunity to model this strategy with their own data collection and honest feedback.

original-3521323-1This is a two-step process. The first step is this checklist of campus and classroom behavior expectations. It is free in an editable Microsoft Excel format on my Teacher Pay Teacher site here. It is also available for free in a non-editable Adobe pdf format here. My suggestion is that you edit it to mirror the actual expectations you have taught and support for your students. I created this list based on social contracts and expectations posted in various schools that I support.

original-3521323-2As you read the list aloud, you should explain what each expectations looks like and what it does not look like. Students will use the Student Self Assessment sheet to grade themselves on each behavior, quantifying it according the following rating scale:

1- poor, 2 – sad, 3 – ok, 4 – weak, and 5 – perfect.

Next, Students choose the 3 or 4 behaviors they feel need the most attention, and write goals for improving those behaviors over a period of time on the Student Behavior Goal Setting sheet. This is a great time to remind students of  (or introduce) SMART goals.

If you are not familiar with SMART goals, it’s easy to find in a quick search on Pinterest, Google, or a freebie from Teachers Pay Teachers like this.

Goal setting is always in season. There is never a wrong time to set new goals. The beginning of the year, of course is the best time so that expectations are set, modeled and followed from the beginning. However, a new 6 weeks, a new month, even a new calendar year or semester is a great time to teach students to analyze where they are, determine where they should be, and plot a course for improvement.


Alphabet of Thankfulness: F is for Freebie’s!

I am thankful for teachers who post free items on their blogs and their Teachers Pay Teachers sites. So, to pay this forward, the following Dolch Sight Word Read Trace Write Paste are all FREE on my TpT site:

My students typically cut the Read column into individual words and paste them on the paste column in line with the correct word so they are also doing a matching exercise with this activity. Each link takes you to the entire set of words for that level. There are 7-9 pages for each set. My students do a sheet a day while we are working on these words in isolation before we move into putting them into sentences. Enjoy!

Alphabet of Thankfulness – B is for Bubbles


first – then board

Today and every day, I am thankful for bubbles. Reinforcers are very important in a classroom of students with Autism Spectrum disorders, or really any classroom. For some students bubbles are a powerful reinforcement solution. Every student in my class responds to bubbles in a positive way, but for some, they are worth doing work that nothing else will motivate them to do. I introduce the bubbles at the same time as I introduce the task to be completed by setting both in front of the student and showing the student a first-then board.

My first-then boards are nothing more than velcro on a laminated page. They should be very simple as to not distract the student from the reason for the choice board; getting them to learn. These work great at home as well. In fact, having students use the same supports at home as they use in the classroom are a powerful aid in their learning process. They learn to follow instructions the same way wherever they are. They begin to realize that Mom, Dad, Teachers, everyone wants them to follow the same task for reward system and it becomes not only easier for the student to follow, but easier for parents and teachers to manage. Most people, including our students, are creatures of habit. The more the habit crosses from school to home, the more quickly they will master it.

So, today I am thankful for bubbles, bouncy balls, fidget boxes, and other powerful reinforcers in my classroom!

First-Then Board FREEBIE! http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Editable-First-Then-Board-958613

Morning Meeting/ Circle


Calendar & Weather center

There are so many great skills to practice each day in a calendar and weather activity. We call it our morning meeting, but at this point we are not all meeting together in one spot. We have found that it helps to separate our students into centers allowing each to work to their strengths and learning styles. The following activity has been put into a folder or bound as a book for each student. It used to supplement and create repetition as well as offer support for other skills including data collection, graphing, writing name, writing numbers, and support many other important skills!

For some of my students, the day begins with an interactive calendar or weather app on a classroom iPad. For one, it begins with physically updating the wall calendar and weather data center. For others it begins with a self-directed slide show at a student desktop computer in my Technology Center. Click on the bolded links below for some of what goes into my students self-directed PowerPoint:

Rise & Shine & Welcome to School Today

They can do this in their seat or standing up and joining the motions. My students love to be welcomed to school where they feel important.

Macarena Months

Singing this every morning not only helps them to learn the names of the months, but teaches them in order so they can use that knowledge to decide which one comes before and which one comes after another.

Days of the Week Song

Again, a catchy memorable song to learn their days in a fashion that allows them to answer yesterday, today and tomorrow questions in the future.


My students love this rap which not only covers the seasons, but what the weather feels like in each season as well as how to spell each one.

Color Farm

Learning colors with a song and a visual helps students to remember them more clearly. I have another color song that I used last year, but it only introduced 4 colors. For half the year, one of my students could easily identify those 4 colors, but did not know the others and had trouble learning them until we added this video.

Alphabet Song

I have a student who was non-verbal for the first 14 weeks of Kindergarten, until he started singing along with the alphabet song. By winter break he was talking to his parents by calling them Momma and Papa for the first time in his life. By the second week of first grade he was talking in full sentences saying things like, “thank you Mrs. Hardisty” and “No. You can’t do that in here.” It’s so inspiring to see them come alive and change their behavior for the better as they learn to speak and advocate for themselves.

Count to 100

I have students who could not count past 32 the week before we implemented this set of video’s, and two weeks later they are counting to 97! The visual and auditory delivery functions together to create a counting pattern that the students can easily remember.


Counting school days per month using tally marks

Students tally each day and then count their tally marks at the end of each month with this worksheet.


Marking the date on the calendar

Students write the month in their best handwriting and write down the number for each day of the month on this worksheet. Often my students have dysgraphia or other issues with writing so we tend to use markers with students who need more support with their writing skills.


Great exercise for counting and writing numbers in sequence

Students see how the numbers increase as the month moves forward.


Calendar Data Sheet laminated for reuse

The above page can be laminated or placed in a page protector so students us the same page every day and paper can be saved.

Graphing daily weather for each month

Graphing daily weather for each month

Any time we can add graphing to our daily routine I welcome it. Students need to be able to chart and find trends in various ways to support their learning in science and math especially.

I found this freebie at Mama’s Learning Corner. It’s also posted on my Pinterest Science Board.