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Things Teachers Can Do to Improve Student Behavior

What can teachers do to improve student behavior?

Whether you are in a general ed classroom or a special ed setting, there are always students who will test the behavior boundaries… some intentionally and most others, not intentionally.

Improve Student Behavior - What Teachers Can Do

That’s why it’s so important to have some tricks in your teacher bag for helping students behave in a way that’s appropriate and respectful.

The tips and tactics below will help your students be better versions of themselves and will help you be a better teacher!


How to Improve Student Behavior

We asked veteran teachers what some of their best tips were for helping improve student behavior in the classroom. Their answers were based on years of experience and trial and error.

While not all of the tactics may work for your classroom, there are bound to be some suggestions below that will make your life easier by making your students’ behavior better.

Provide the Accommodations in the IEP

While it may seem self-explanatory, there is often a correlation between the implementation of accommodations and student behavior. If you find that a student in your class is having behavioral issues, double-check the IEP and make sure that the accommodations listed are actually being implemented.

Follow the Behavior Plan

Behavior plans can be tricky, but they are a great guide for how to deal with a student’s behavior. Make sure that the plan is being implemented with fidelity in all of the student’s classes.

Build Relationships

Above all else, relationships with your students will go a long way to helping improve student behavior. If your students know that you care about them, they will care about you and their behavior in the classroom. Taking the time to build solid relationships is never a waste of time.

Be Consistent

Say what you mean, mean what you say, and follow-through. Consistency is a non-negotiable when it comes to working with children – especially those who are prone to behavior issues. Be consistent at all times so your students know what to expect.

Build a Classroom Community of Acceptance

Just as building a relationship with each student is important, so too is building a classroom community of acceptance and caring. Emphasize how each student matters and how, together, your class is better and stronger. Make sure students treat each other with kindness and respect and do not allow anything other than acceptance.

Problem Solve with the Student

Sometimes students do not know why they act the way that they do. However, other times that might have good insight into what is causing their behavior. Have a conversation with your student and problem solve ways to help him improve his behavior. You may be surprised by not only his insight but his willingness to work together toward better behavior.

Have Reinforcement Prompts

Reinforce the behavior you want to see with prompts that you have worked out ahead of time with your student. Sometimes a simple word or phrase that the two of you have talked about and agreed upon ahead of time can make all the difference in helping the child calm down and focus.

Increase Wait Time

Wait time is the amount of time you give between asking a question and calling on students for answers. Students with processing issues need extra time to think about a question before they can give an answer. Instead of calling on students right away, give them time to think.

Explicit Instruction

Ambiguity leads to behavior issues. Explicit instructions that very clearly tell a student what he should be doing and when he should be doing it make it easier for both him and you. Be clear. Be concise.

Positive Reinforcement & Feedback

Instead of pointing out the behavior that you do not want to see, focus on the positive. Point out when the student is doing what he or she should be doing. Encourage them with positive feedback and reinforce the importance of those appropriate behaviors frequently and with enthusiasm.

Disengage Verbally

Sometimes behavioral situations escalate and teachers continue to engage verbally with the student. In many cases, disengaging verbally after a directive has been given helps keeps things under control and prevents the situation from getting out of hand.

Use an Agenda

Many students have anxiety related to control and scheduling. A daily agenda on the board that has the activities and the times listed can help manage that anxiety and improve behavior. Use one daily.

Visuals Matter

Don’t shy away from using visuals in the classroom! They provide an excellent reminder to students about what is happening and what the expectations are in the space. Think of them as reminder prompts that work on their own.

Show Grace

Everyone has bad days and your students are no exception. Show some grace and remember that not everything deserves or needs to have a strong consequence. Sometimes a little grace goes a long way and helps build that trust and community.

Remember that there is usually a reason behind the student’s behavior. By taking the time to build a relationship and work together with the student, there is a good chance that the student’s behavior will be transformed.


What recommendations do you have for helping students through a behavior? Tell us in the comments below!

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I'm a special education teacher, presenter, curriculum writer, and educational blogger behind Mrs. D's Corner.
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