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Behaviour Management in a Classroom Setting Essay

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Updated: Apr 30th, 2020


Behaviour management refers to the ability of an individual to influence the actions of another. In a classroom setting, the teacher is capable of regulating the behaviour of the students. The teacher should be able to identify problematic behaviours among their students. In addition to identifying the problems, the instructor should be able to determine the cause.

Consequently, they should highlight the ‘setting’ events and antecedents that lead to the occurrence of a particular problematic behaviour among students. It is the only way through which the teacher can reduce the occurrence of such acts. Once the problem and its causes are identified, the teacher should formulate an effective behaviour support plan.

In this paper, the author analysed the conduct of Jack, a student at New England School of Excellence. The school is based in New South Wales, Australia. Jack is reported to exhibit negative behaviours. A support plan is developed to help the teacher handle this student.

Behaviour Management

Teachers are charged with the responsibility of guiding students in school. As such, they play an important role in the development of the learners. In light of this, teachers should pay attention to the behaviour of the students (Newcomer & Lewis, 2004, p.173). They should be able to pinpoint problematic individuals and come up with effective and efficient behaviour support plans to help them change positively.

As a teacher, one must understand why students behave in a certain way. It is important to note that the conduct of learners can be a result of three major factors. It can result from physiological reasons, which vary from one individual to the other based on their temperament (Newcomer & Lewis, 2004, p.173).

Secondly, the behaviour of a student can emanate from their social background. In this case, the individual will tend to behave in a manner that is perceived as acceptable within their community. Lastly, behaviour can be affected by immediate happenings within the school setting. A teacher should be able to assess the behavioural needs of each and every student in their classroom.

To positively impact on problematic students, teachers must have the skills required to develop behaviour support plans (Wehby, Lane & Falk, 2003, p.196). In this paper, the author seeks to use Jack’s incident report to formulate an effective behaviour support plan.

The student is from New England School of Excellence in New South Wales, Australia. The author will carry out an antecedent-behaviour-consequence analysis. The summary statement will then be formulated. Competing behaviour diagrams will also be prepared. Lastly, the author will use the diagrams to come up with a functional behaviour support plan.

Antecedent-Behaviour-Consequence Analysis

To positively change the behaviour of a student, the teacher must be able to trace the cause of their problematic conduct (Dunlap, 2006, p.59). To better understand the conduct of the students, the contextual behaviour framework is used. The model states that human behaviour is contextual.

It is influenced by the environment (Dunlap, 2006, p.60). For this reason, behaviour should be interpreted in relation to environmental factors. To achieve this, it is important to analyse acts in terms of what they are and the context within which they occur. For a teacher to come up with an effective behaviour support plan, they must have a good understanding of the student’s environment.

The most important element that influences the behaviour of a learner in class is the school environment. Some of these significant aspects include the institution’s rules and the relations that occur between peers (National Centre for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance [NCEE], 2008, p.7). Specific aspects that may influence student behaviour in class at primary school level include the curriculum and the set of instructions governing them.

It is important to note that some instructions and certain elements of the curriculum may put unnecessary pressure on the learners. The probability to repeat a given act is determined by the course of action taken following the exhibition of this behaviour by a student. The teacher should create an environment that discourages problematic behaviours in a classroom setting.

The environmental conditions that exist following a given conduct by the learner are referred to as consequences. In this case, the treatment that Jack is subjected to is the consequence. There is a close relationship between consequences and the probability of the behaviour occurring. In some cases, the likelihood of the act increases following a particular consequence.

Such a scenario is referred to as reinforce (Dunlap et al., 2006, p.36). On the other hand, consequences that decrease the probability of a particular behaviour are referred to as punishers. To come up with an effective support plan, a teacher should identify consequences that maintain the likelihood of positive behaviour while lowering negative acts. The form of interaction between behaviour and its consequence is referred to as functional relationship.

To formulate a functional behaviour support plan, a teacher must also recognise the actions that prompt the negative conduct exhibited by the student. For example, in the case of Jack’s incident report, the lunch break is the event that seems to bring about his negative behaviour. His teacher indicates that his conduct in class throughout the day is agreeable until after lunch break.

The event that comes just before the ‘occurrence’ is referred to as an antecedent. The negative behaviour triggered in this case is non-compliance to the New England School of Excellence’s rules and regulations (Dunlap et al., 2006, p.33). Usually, reports of negative conduct are made in a behaviour incident report form. In this case, Jack fails to return to class even after the bell to signal the end of the lunch break rings.

Instead, he is left outside playing as other students return to class. He also refuses to resume work. When a fellow classmate is sent to notify him that class time has commenced, Jack fails to comply and continues playing. He also destroys the school property. According to his behaviour incident report, the teacher found him throwing water on the floor and walls of the school bathrooms.

He goes ahead to stick toilet paper on the wet walls. According to the report, Jack goes ahead to throw items at the teacher, something that indicates lack of respect. In addition, the boy makes inappropriate gestures with the use of his hands, which is considered by the teacher as rude.

There is a close relationship between antecedent, behaviour, and consequence. The attempt to explore the link is referred to as antecedent-behaviour-consequence analysis. In efforts to develop an effective behaviour support plan for a student, a teacher must identify the three elements. They must also make the connection between the three in order to formulate effective collective measures (NCEE, 2008, p.8).

The teacher should mainly deal with antecedents (Conroy, Dunlap, Clarke & Alter, 2005, p.162). For example, the teacher should try to change the routine of the students during lunch break. Instead of allowing the learners to play individually, the teacher may encourage them to participate in groups. As such, the probabilities of Jack being left behind as the students return to class will be lowered.

In this case, Jack’s negative behaviour will have been eliminated. It is also important for appropriate consequences to be formulated. Jack should be offered some form of punishment for lack of discipline. For instance, he should be denied the chance to play outside after lunch. As such, he will learn to appreciate and respect the time limits put in place by the school administration with regards to lunch breaks.

Summary Statement

A summary statement resembles a hypothesis. It is used to describe the problematic behaviour and its context. A complete summary statement has four major parts. They include the setting event, the antecedent (also commonly referred to as the trigger), the problematic behaviour, and consequences (Sugai, Lewis-Palmer & Hagan-Burke, 2000, p.153).

A number of summary statements can be formulated using the information contained in Jack’s behaviour incident report form. Some are highlighted below:

  1. Long lunch breaks offer Jack playing time, which makes him fail to return to class once the bell rings. The situation attracts punishment from the school administration. To this end, Jack is denied the opportunity to play after meals.
  2. Discouraging playing as a group makes Jack stay alone during lunch breaks. As a result, he is late for class, a situation that makes the school introduce a playing session for the entire class immediately after meals.

Competing Behaviour Diagrams

The diagrams play a vital role in the formulation of behaviour support plans. They contain all the components of the summary statement and several additions. Some of the items added to the competing diagrams include replacing the problematic situation with desired behaviour. The act is viewed as the desired objective in the quest for behavioural change by the teacher (NCEE, 2008, p.44).

Competing diagrams also replace the undesired conduct with the alternative behaviour. The consequences of the student’s conduct are also outlined in the diagrams (refer to appendices 1 and 2 for Jack’s competing behaviour diagram).

How Competing Behaviour Diagrams can be used to develop a Behaviour Support Plan

Behaviour support plans are developed from the available competing behaviour diagram. Formulation of the plan involves four major steps. They include definition of the problem, analysis of the issue, development of a behaviour support plan, and monitoring of progress (Sugai et al., 2000, p.153). The steps are discussed below:

Definition of Problem. The principles of behavioural support plans require teachers to ascertain the existence of a problematic conduct that needs to be changed. The challenging behaviour identified must be proved beyond any reasonable doubt to be contrary to the laid down guidelines (Webster-Stratton & Reid, 2004, p.104).

In the behavioural incident report provided, it is evident that the teacher has identified a number of problematic acts. They include non-compliance, refusing to work, destroying school property, throwing items, and making inappropriate gestures. As such, there is need for a behaviour support plan.

Analysis of Problem.In this stage, it is important to consider the functions and events related to the problematic behaviour. Going by Jack’s behaviour incident report form, it is clear that the function of the problematic conduct is lack of punctuality in class after the bell signalling the end of the lunch break rings.

The behaviour is found to come about as a result of such events as long breaks, which give him free time to play. The problem also comes about as a result of failure to encourage the whole class to play as a group. As a result, Jack often plays alone in the school bathrooms, increasing his chances of losing track of time.

Development of a Behaviour Support Plan.Coming up with a support plan involves formulation of strategies that will help to change behaviour. The teacher can achieve this by proposing the replacement of the problematic behaviour with the desired or alternative act (Webster-Stratton & Reid, 2004, p.103).

With regards to Jack’s incident report form, the teacher can address the problem of lack of punctuality by putting in place two desired replacement behaviours (Kern, Ringdahl, Hilt & Sterling-Turner, 2001, p.219). The two involve instructing Jack to show up on time at the bottom of the stairs once the bell signifying the end of the lunch break rings. The other entails having him play together with other students during the break to ensure that he stays together with his classmates.

Alternatively, Jack can stay close to his classmates even when playing alone (Dunlap, 2006, p.59). As such, he will be able to follow them closely. Consequently, he will avoid being late for class after lunch break. He should also respond respectfully when the teacher sends someone to fetch him.

The development of a behaviour support plan also involves the determination of consequences. In the case of Jack, the teacher will come up with either reinforcing or maintaining consequences. To begin with, Jack’s punctuality will make him more independent. His confrontations with the school administration will also reduce. Failure to change will result in the introduction of maintaining consequences, such as forwarding the matter to the principal.

Monitoring of Progress.After the teacher has come up with a behaviour support plan for Jack, the next task involves monitoring the progress made. The teacher has to determine whether the support plan is successful or not.

If the strategy is deemed to be ineffective, the instructor should return to the problem analysis stage to try and solve it once more (Bricker, Davis & Squires, 2004, p.134). If the plan was effective, the teacher should move on to solve another problematic behaviour on the same student or another.

The steps involved in the formulation of a behaviour support plan are indicated in the figure below:

Figure 1: Formulating a behaviour support plan

Formulating a behaviour support plan


Teachers play the role of providing guidance to students as they pursue their education. To enhance learning within the classroom setting, the instructors should deal with problematic behaviour that may affect the learning process. To effectively address these challenging situations, the teacher should possess the knowledge and skills needed to come up with a behaviour support plan.

The plan is used to anticipate and address negative behaviours among learners. In this regard, the teacher must be able to identify the various components of a problematic conduct. The components include the function, setting event, antecedent, desired behaviour, alternative conduct, as well as reinforcing and maintaining consequences associated with a particular behaviour.

During the formulation of a behaviour support plan, a number of steps must be followed. The stages include definition of the issue, problem analysis, development of behaviour support plan, and monitoring of progress.


Bricker, D., Davis, M., & Squires, J. (2004). Mental health screening in young children. Infants & Young Children, 17(2), 129-144.

Conroy, M., Dunlap, G., Clarke, S., & Alter, P. (2005). A descriptive analysis of positive behavioural intervention research with young children with challenging behaviour. Topics in Early Childhood Special Education, 25(3), 157-166.

Dunlap, G. (2006). The applied behaviour analytic heritage of PBS: A dynamic model of action-oriented research. Journal of Positive Behaviour Interventions, 8(1), 58-60.

Dunlap, G., Strain, P., Fox, L., Carta, J., Conroy, M., Smith, B.,…Sowell, C. (2007). Prevention and intervention with young children’s challenging behaviour: Perspectives regarding current knowledge. Behavioural Disorders, 32(1), 29-45.

Kern, L., Ringdahl, J., Hilt, A., & Sterling-Turner, H. (2001). Linking self-management procedures to functional analysis results. Behavioural Disorders, 26(3), 214-226.

National Centre for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance. (2008). Reducing behaviour problems in the elementary school classroom. Web.

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Sugai, G., Lewis-Palmer, T., & Hagan-Burke, S. (2000). Overview of the functional behavioural assessment process. Exceptionality, 8(3), 149-160.

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Wehby, J., Lane, K., & Falk, K. (2003). Academic instruction for students with emotional and behavioural disorders. Journal of Emotional and Behavioural Disorders, 11(4), 194-197.


Appendix 1: Competing Behaviour Diagram 1 for Jack’s Assessment

Desired Replacement
Present at the bottom of the stairs together with other students once the bell signifying the end of the lunch break rings.
Reinforcing Consequences for Desired Replacement
Punctuality in class after lunch break makes the student more independent in future and also reduces conflicts with the school administration.
Setting Event
History of lunch breaks that allow students to have their own free time
Triggering Antecedent
Long lunch breaks offering the students a lot of time to play individually.
Problem Behavior
Failure to return to class on time immediately after the bell rings.
Maintaining Consequences
The student denied play time after meals in case of future lateness.
Student reported to the principal’s office for further disciplinary action
Lateness to class from the lunch break.
Alternative Replacement Behavior
Respond positively and with respect when the teacher sends another student to fetch him.

Appendix 2: Competing Behaviour Diagram 2 for Jack’s Assessment

Desired Replacement
The student plays together with his classmates. As a result, the students will stay together as a group. As a result, Jack will move into class together with the rest of the students.
Reinforcing Consequences for Desired Replacement
Successful group play among members of the class, making it easy to coordinate the activities of all the students.
Setting Event
Failure to encourage playing as a group among peers.
Triggering Antecedent
The student plays alone after lunch, which makes him lose track of time.
Problem Behavior
Jack plays alone. As a result, he is left behind by the rest of the students as they return to class after the lunch break.
Maintaining Consequences
Continued lack of punctuality by the student will result in further disciplinary actions against them. The school administration can also deny the student play time.
Lack of punctuality
Alternative Replacement Behavior
Jack plays together with the other students. As a result, he will note that the other students are leaving for class after the bell. He will follow suit.
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