Module 8 – Responding to inappropriate behaviour

Establishing systems to respond to inappropriate behaviour is important as it allows staff to efficiently and effectively respond to a range of inappropriate behaviours. Building understanding across the school around behaviour definitions and teaching strategies to staff on how to respond to inappropriate behaviour are important in creating a positive learning environment.

What the research says:

  • Teachers feel unprepared to manage student behaviour.
  • Teachers report low-level disruptive behaviours the most difficult to manage.
  • When teachers use instructional procedures to respond to inappropriate behaviour, students learn that what happens when they misbehave is procedural not personal.

Inappropriate behaviour

Inappropriate behaviour refers to those behaviours do not align with agreed social norms. Identifying the reason for inappropriate will help when responding to the behaviour. Ask, is it a skill or performance deficit?

Skill deficit

A skill deficit corresponds to the student’s need for competence in order to be internally motivated to display the skill or knowledge.

Performance deficit

A performance deficit refers to students’ who are not motivated or invested in using the appropriate behaviour. The performance deficit corresponds to the students’ need for relatedness and autonomy to be internally motivated.

The power of correcting social errors

Using an instructional approach can have a powerful impact on staff and students as it:

  • demonstrates the importance of expectations
  • restores order to the learning environment
  • interrupts the inappropriate behaviour and prevents inappropriate behaviour
  • embraces the teachable moment
  • gives the student a chance to learn to be successful
  • increases probability of future correct behaviour
  • decreases future time out of learning
  • builds relationships with students
  • maintains a positive learning environment.

A school-wide system

It is important to develop system that allows staff to efficiently and effectively respond to inappropriate behaviour. This will include:

  • responses to a teacher managed behaviour
  • executive will manage behaviour if it persists, increases in frequency or becomes more chronic.

To build a school-wide system for responding to inappropriate behaviours, a school must:

  • understand strategies to respond to minor or teacher-managed behaviours
  • define what behaviours that are teacher or executive managed
  • develop data gathering systems.

Defining behaviours

It is important to define behaviours in observable and measurable terms. Staff should be involved in the defining of behaviours. This will improve the use of the behaviour management systems.

Behaviours are to be defined as:

  • Teacher managed (minor) behaviour
    • Inappropriate behaviours that have negatively impacted upon school environment.
  • Executive managed (major) behaviours
    • More frequent inappropriate behaviour that increases in intensity and is referred to a executive to manage.
  • Critical incidents
    • Behaviours that require senior executive to respond and manage.

The agreed definitions are published so that all staff, including casual teachers, are aware of what inappropriate behaviours are teacher managed or executive managed.

Strategies to manage behaviour

When using preventative strategies, consider:

  • consistency
  • least intrusive strategy
  • specific, yet brief
  • quiet, respectful interaction with the student
  • refocus class if needed.

There are indirect and direct strategies to manage behaviour.

Indirect strategies are actions to minimise the inappropriate behaviour before it intensifies. They are unobtrusive and carried out quickly during instruction.

  • Proximity:
    • Strategic placement or movement by the teacher in order to encourage positive behaviour.
  • Non-verbal cue:
    • Non-verbal techniques include eye contact, hand gestures, picture cues. These indicate that the teacher is aware of the behaviour and prepared to intervene when necessary.
  • Ignore/Attend/Praise:
    • Uses the power of specific positive feedback. This involves praising a student behaving student appropriately who is nearby to a student behaving inappropriately. Praise the student after behaviour has been corrected.

Direct strategies are used after indirect strategies have been used. This interaction should be private using language from the matrix, matching response to the frequency and severity of the behaviour. Direct strategies:

  • Redirect
    • The redirect strategy employs a very brief, clearly and privately stated verbal reminder of the expected behaviour.
  • Re-teach
    • This builds on the redirect above and re-teaches the specific expectation and desired behaviour in question.
  • Provide choice
    • Provide statement of two alternatives, the preferred behaviour and a less preferred choice. Students will often make the preferred choice.
  • Student conference
    • Lengthier re-teaching of the inappropriate behaviour.

Response flowchart

It is important to document the school’s behaviour management process so that all students, staff and families understand the procedures. A flowchart is a simple way to do this.

Image: Student behaviour management flowchart example

Download the flowchart: School-wide major minor flowchart (PDF 236.8KB)

The behaviour management documentation should include:

  • teacher managed behaviours
  • how teachers are to respond to problem behaviours and what happens if the behaviour stops or continues
  • executive managed behaviours (and when does a teacher managed behaviour become executive managed)
  • how the executive teachers will respond to the problem behaviour
  • include what do to in critical situation.

Consistent responses to inappropriate behaviour ensures that senior executive can respond to issues as they need to, knowing the staff have used the agreed upon procedures.

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