Rules should not be designed to catch children misbehaving so that they can be punished. Instead, they should provide guidelines that help children examine their behavior, considering its effects on themselves and others.

–Vern Jones


“I will never overlook an inappropriate behavior. Whenever I see one, I will look upon it as an opportunity to teach the youth a skill he does not already have.”

–Don Black

Behavior is best changed by teaching specific behaviors that will lead to success and then catching the student using that behavior and reinforcing it. Permanent behavior change is secured through the use of positive feedback.

It is not enough to teach, model and watch for appropriate behavior.  Educators must also provide feedback to students about their behavioral progress. Feedback allows students to see where they are in relation to expectations and increases interest and effort. Feedback capitalizes on naturally occurring opportunities to reinforce students who use responsible behavior or to provide correction to students who behave irresponsibly. It is this incidental teaching or feedback that results in lasting behavior change. Effective feedback also communicates that the teacher believes the student can succeed. At-risk students are most in need of feedback; without it they tend to assume their performance is unacceptable. The quality of feedback affects students’ perceptions of themselves as learners. Studies show that harsh criticism creates negative attitudes, lowers achievement, cooperation and classroom control. Successful schools provide all staff with the strategies to both effectively encourage and correct student behavior.  Do we provide frequent feedback–positive and corrective?

Sample Indicators:

  1. All of our staff use high rates of general praise and specific positive feedback.

  2. We routinely use a school-wide incentive system.

  3. Our teachers move about classrooms to catch students being good.

  4. Our staff maintain low tolerances and respond quickly to minor problems.

  5. We use corrective teaching is address social errors.

  6. Our staff have a menu of positive and negative consequences to use selectively in conjunction with teaching.

  7. We provide feedback that is private and respectful, ensuring student dignity.