Behavior plans are not the same for every student with special needs – nor should they be.
Some students respond better to positive rewards, others to consequences. It is important that you know what your student responds best to before creating a plan.
The tips below can help you create an effective and successful behavior plan for your special education students!
What is a Behavior Plan?
But first, what is a behavior plan, and why is it important?
A behavior plan for special education students is a document that outlines desired behavior. The plan usually has a list of rewards, consequences, and other ideas for changing the behavior.
How to Create a Behavior Plan for Students
Create a list of the behaviors that you want to address with your student, which may also be done through a Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA). This might include both positive behavior and negative behavior, such as working independently, losing their temper, escape, sensory overload, etc.
Once you have a complete list of the target behaviors, rank each one from most desirable to least desired. You can then create consequences for each undesirable behavior and rewards for each desired behavior on your plan based on this ranking system.
Know that it may also be beneficial to target only 1 or 2 of the target behaviors to start. I’ve often found that many behaviors are intertwined and when one target behavior is addressed, it’s kind of like a trickle down effect and some of the other target behaviors are addressed too.
Here are some tips:
Look at your student’s strengths when developing the plan. Find out what motivates them to improve their behaviors which can be anything from grades to social time with friends or peers. Doing a preference assessment may be beneficial here. For example, many times screentime is a big motivator for students.
Start by stating goals that will help them achieve the desired behaviors and then plan ways to help them achieve those goals.
The Importance of Consistency in Creating and Implementing the Plan
Once the plan is created, it should be reviewed with your student often. He or she will need to know what behaviors are going to result in consequences and how he can work on better behavior. This way you both have a clear understanding of expectations.
The last step is for them to sign an agreement form that outlines their responsibilities as well as any rewards or consequences. The simple act of having them sign or write their name makes the agreement more concrete and can lead to better results.
Maintaining Progress Over Time
When you are working with a student’s behavior, you have to be in it for the long haul. There is nothing short and sweet about behavior plans – they take time to implement and get right. Progress depends on consistency and reinforcement. Be sure to review the plan with your student every few weeks, and maybe even the team. This allows you both to make any changes or adjustments that may be needed. It also provides a visual reminder of progress and achievements that can be incredibly motivating. Who doesn’t like to see how far they have come?
In order for behavior plans to work, they need consistency from both parents and educators. One good way is by creating weekly routines so that there is consistent contact between home and school. Don’t just call when there are unwanted behaviors – celebrate and praise the good! By planning to call or send a report home on a specific day each week, families can better support what’s happening in the classroom and teachers can support parents at home.
The Importance of Having an Individualized Approach When Developing Behavioral Plans for Students with Disabilities
Because they are part of the IEP, behavior plans must be individualized. Behavior plans that are individualized to your student’s needs always work best. Not every student responds the same way or has the same capabilities so their strengths and limitations must be taken into account. What might be right for one child is often not the best approach for another.
You must know your student. This is also why input and collaboration from the student’s family is so key.
Getting input from the team of educators and professionals that the student interacts with, such as his speech therapist or occupational therapist, will give you a well-rounded view of when the child is struggling with his behavior and when he is able to control it. The behavior plan should be a joint effort not only for consistency, but so that the child’s needs are directly being addressed by all of the adults who are helping him.
The most important thing to remember when developing a behavior plan for your students is that it’s not one-size-fits-all. Every student you work with has different needs and abilities, so there isn’t any one “right” way to do things.
Behavior plans need consistency from both parents and educators in order to be effective, but they should be developed based on the individual needs of your student. It’s important to work closely with other professionals who interact with the student when developing the behavior plan so that you can create an individualized approach that will best meet their needs and help them reach their goals!