The Impact of Positive Behavior Strategies in Promoting Positive Behavior in Kindergarten Students

The Impact of Positive Behavior Strategies in Promoting Positive Behavior in Kindergarten Students


Disruptive behaviors are a concern in the school system. Inappropriate behaviors exhibited by only a few students can disrupt and jeopardize effective instruction for all students (Ausdemore, B., Martella, R., and Marchand-Martella, N., 2005). Creating the opportunity to learn and develop both academic and behavioral skills are essential to an effective classroom; thereby creating a productive school environment overall. Positive behavior strategies offer an alternative solution to deal with negative behaviors in the educational setting. Introducing and modeling positive social behavior is an important factor of every student’s educational experience. Teaching behavioral expectations and rewarding students for following them is a much more positive approach than waiting for misbehavior to occur before responding. Like many things, appropriate behavior is learned by proper modeling. Success in teaching students with frequent disruptions requires extra time, energy, patience, and creativity. Creativity involves thinking out of the box and outside the norm which could allow students who talk out of turn to lead a discussion on his favorite book. Or, a teacher could use a student who likes to get out of his/her seat and make him/her a special helper to hand out materials to classmates.

Chapter 1

Context of the problem:

A growing concern of today is that kindergarten students are suspended because of fighting, biting, poor sharing and incidents of not following directions. Of course, one would think that these students need to be taught the proper social skills for the classroom in order to build interpersonal skills. But, now days, teachers have much more pressure and responsibilities on them than just teaching the student class work. Discipline systems in most schools are
designed to react to rather than prevent problem behaviors. Reactive use of aversive consequences (e.g., suspension, expulsion) remains the standard and ineffective approach to management of student behavior in traditional schools across the country (Tidwell, A., Flannery, K., Lewis-Palmer, T, 2003). Reactive discipline systems are ineffective and result in increases in problem behaviors, rather than improvements in behavior. Many teachers are deemed as role models and in some cases are looked upon as parents. Unfortunately, teachers get frustrated with the everyday struggles of a teacher. As a result, at times, behavior modification strategies are needed.

Statement of the Problem:

The purpose of the research is to examine the impact of positive behavior strategies in promoting positive behavior in kindergarten students within Durham Public School system. The topic to improve management of disruptive behaviors has been thoroughly researched over the years. Various strategies can enhance the student’s abilities to maintain appropriate behavior in class, while greatly increasing teacher and students’ rapport. Positive Behavior Strategies are solutions to modify environments in such a way that problem behaviors are prevented and the students learn new skills to cope within the classroom setting. The following strategies are identified for implementation into the class: transitional ritual, greeting ritual, positive reinforcement, walk & talk intervention, problem solving individually, conflict resolution, processing, group recreation, modeling, and time out in the classroom.


Are positive behavior strategies effective for classroom management on kindergarten students?

Are positive behavior strategies effective in helping students conform in the classroom?

Are social skills training effective in promoting appropriate classroom behavior?


Positive behavior strategies are effective in promoting positive behavior in kindergarten students.


The study will be limited to kindergarten students within Durham Public School system, ages five through six.

The study will examine the teacher’s ability and understanding of implementation of positive behavior strategies in the classroom.

The study will evaluate the students’ ability to conform to the strategies.

Definition of Terms:

Impact is the effect the strategies will have on the kindergarten’s behavior, in that, problematic behaviors will improve. Student will conform to class rules of sitting quietly at their desks, facing forward, eyes on the teacher, listening and/or waiting for instructions from the teacher, and keeping hands and feet to themselves. Positive Behavior Strategies are solutions to modify environments in such a way that problem behaviors are prevented and the students learn new skills to cope within the classroom setting. The following strategies are identified for implementation into the class: transitional ritual, greeting ritual, positive reinforcement, walk & talk intervention, individual problem solving techniques, conflict resolution, processing, group recreation,
modeling, and time out in the classroom.

Appropriate means demonstrating the suitable behavior for the classroom. Behavior Management System is a color coded (green, yellow, red, etc) level system detailing the students’ behavioral progress throughout the day. Pro-social Behavior promotes the idea of sharing, helping, caring, and other positive interactions demonstrated towards peers. Modeling provides a visual opportunity to demonstrate positive behaviors or actions such as demonstrating of a task where a student observes another student sharpening a pencil or demonstrating a behavior where students are talking loudly in class. For example, the teacher demonstrates the voice tone needed for class; therefore, talking in a low voice tone.

Replacement Behavior is an acceptable alternative response that results in the same functional outcome as the problem behavior. An example would be if a student talks out of turn during lectures for attention. The teacher would like for him to raise his hand to speak; as a result, she ignores his behavior until he raises his hand. The student complies with the redirection which is the replacement behavior to raise his hand.


PBS is the abbreviation for Positive Behavior Strategies.

DPS is the acronym for Durham Public Schools.

CBT is the acronym for Cognitive Behavior Therapy

Significance of the Study:

The Positive Behavior Strategies (PBS) would be a valuable tool to turn negative behavior into positive learning opportunities. PBS offers a positive, effective alternative to traditional mode of discipline in the classroom. Utilizing positive strategies not only helps identify problems and implement changes in class management, but can also be used as an effective way to build a healthy learning environment for students and teachers.

At the elementary school level, it is possible to create and sustain learning and teaching environments that are safe, secure, positive, inclusive, competent, and accommodating. One model of proactive school-wide discipline is Positive Behavior Support (PBS). Positive Behavior Support is a combination of behavioral science, practical interventions, social values, and a systems perspective (Tidwell, A., Flannery, K. B., Lewis-Palmer, T.,2003). A proactive effort is made to teach all students appropriate responses, to build a social culture where all students know what is expected and how to succeed, to receive encouragement for their use of those prosocial skills (Tidwell, A., Flannery, K. B., Lewis-Palmer, T.,2003). At the elementary school
level, research indicates that schools implementing school-wide systems of PBS experience office referral reductions of up to 60% (Stormont, M., Lewis, T., Smith, S.2005), reductions in problems within settings such as playgrounds.

PBS is a three tiered prevention model that (Stormont, M., Lewis, T., Smith, S.2005) focuses attention on the active, early, and consistent teaching and acknowledgement of appropriate behavior as the foundation for reducing problem behavior in schools. Schools adopting PBS must invest in prevention by teaching simple, school-wide expectations at the universal level of prevention, organizing group-based interventions at the secondary level of prevention, and providing highly individualized, comprehensive, intensive interventions at the tertiary level of prevention. Universal prevention is used with all students in the school. Students should receive behavior support (i.e., secondary or tertiary) only after they have patterns of problem behavior that are nonresponsive to universal strategies and systems. Instead, a proactive effort is made to teach all students appropriate responses, to build a social culture where all students know what is expected and how to succeed, to receive encouragement for their use of those prosocial skills (Stormont, M., Lewis, T., Smith, S.2005). Universal intervention is expected to positively influence the behavior of about 80% of the students (Tidwell, A., Flannery, K. B., Lewis-Palmer, T.,2003).


The purpose of this research is to examine the impact of positive behavior strategies in promoting positive behavior in kindergarten students within Durham Public Schools. Using a qualitative study with systematic observations, one will be able to interact with participants and observe the display of different behaviors and the frequency of the behaviors. Also, students and teachers in the kindergarten classes will have equal opportunity to be observed. The goal of the research is to illustrate the behaviors that interfere with a teacher’s efforts to teach a curriculum and maintain order in the class and the strategies that help to restore order. The dependent variable is the impact that the strategies will have on students’ behavior. Using the strategies, the students will conform to the structure in the classroom, following class rules. The independent variable are the strategies (transitional ritual, greeting ritual, positive reinforcement, walk & talk intervention, problem solving individually, conflict resolution, processing, group recreation,
modeling, time out in the classroom) implemented to change the student’s negative behavior.


Participants selected for the study focuses on four to five kindergarten classes located at twenty-eight elementary schools within Durham Public Schools. There are approximately twenty-five students per class with one teacher assigned to each class and two teacher assistants who share the duties for the classes. For this study, the focus will be placed on the entire class, all students and teachers, regardless of socioeconomic status, gender, or race.


Two instruments will be utilized for data collection in the study: an observational questionnaire and interviews. The observational questionnaire is an adaptation of an observation checklist from Durham Public School, behavior support section. The questionnaire was revised to accommodate
observations of students’ behaviors and class management. The observation tool will be divided into five sections: classroom management has ten statements focusing on the structure of the classroom; follows classroom expectations with eight statements focusing on the students’ ability to adhere to the rules; interactions with peers has six items focusing on the student’s ability to interact positively with class peers; interaction with the teacher with four items; and , behavior displayed in the classroom has six items. The observation has a total of thirty four statements with room for comments for each item.


A pre-test will be conducted to gather information on negative behaviors and how the teacher handles these behaviors in class. Information will be recorded on the observation instrument for a period of seven days, focusing on t entire day of instruction including specials (music, art, physical education, and science), lunch, and recess. Observation will take approximately five weeks giving each class a full week of observations. Data will be
summarized according to the issues noted in each class. The teacher will receive a copy of strategies to be implemented in the class. It is important for the teacher to receive guidance by a behavioral support specialist as the strategies are implemented into the class structure. After a week of the strategies being used in the class, a post test will be conducted in each kindergarten class to record progress.


Interviews will be used to obtain information from teachers, focusing on their viewpoints as to the problem behaviors and what strategies they tried on behaviors displayed in the classroom. Moreover, input from the principal will provide insight into to the management style of the teacher as well as identify problem behaviors in the class.

Date Collection

A face-to-face meeting with the Superintendent would give accurate information about the research study as a tool to uncover the effectiveness of using positive behavior strategies in the classroom. More than likely, the letter of request would be given the Superintendent at that time instead of a cold call to the Superintendent. Once permission is granted, with a letter of introduction from the Superintendent, principals at the twelve elementary schools would be contacted for a face-to-face meeting to discuss the study. The purpose of the study as a research proposal and the instruments to be used should be included in a letter. Most important, the request should explain that the goal of the study is to provide answers to class management on
the kindergarten level. It is not a criticism of the teacher’s performance but rather a solution to decrease problematic behaviors in the class setting. By completing a pre-test and a post test, the study will be able to illustrate gains in appropriate behavior via third party observation, referral complaints to the office, and teacher’s input.

Observations will be completed daily with a schedule set up by the teacher. Students will understand the presence of a newcomer as a visitor to observe the classroom. In order to get an accurate picture of the class, teachers and students will be encouraged to follow their daily routine. Participants will understand the study to be one for educational purposes focusing on implementation of behavior strategies in the classroom.

Chapter 2

Literature Review

Developmentally, kindergarten students require more modeling and guidance to assimilate into a structured environment. For many, it is the first time they entered into a formal learning environment with rules that are different than mommy and daddy. In school, they have to learn to share, wait their turn, and listen to instructions. According to the article, Piaget, (On Purpose Associates, 1998-2001), a Swiss biologist and psychologist is renowned for constructing a highly influential model of child development and learning. Piaget’s theory is based on the idea that the developing child builds cognitive structures—in other words, mental maps, schemes, or networked concepts for understanding and responding to physical experiences within his or her
environment. Piaget further attested that a child’s cognitive structure increases in sophistication with development, moving from a few innate reflexes such as crying and sucking to highly complex mental activities.

Many pre-school and primary programs are modeled in Piaget’s theory which provides part of the foundation for constructivist learning. Discovery learning and supporting the developing interests of the child are two primary instructional techniques. It is recommended that parents and teachers challenge the child’s abilities but not present material or information that is too far beyond the child’s level. It is also recommended that teachers use a wide variety of
concrete experiences to help the child learn such as use of manipulative, working in groups to get experience seeing from another’s perspective, fieldtrips, etc (Huitt, W., & Hummel, J., 2003).

According to Piaget, there are four stages of development, sensor motor, pre-operations, concrete operations, and formal operations. In the sensor motor stage (0-2 years), intelligence takes the form of motor actions. Intelligence in the preoperational period (3-7 years) is intuitive in nature. The cognitive structure during the concrete operational stage (8-11 years) is logical but depends upon concrete referents. Abstract problem solving is possible at this stage such as arithmetic equations with numbers instead of objects. In the final stage of formal operations (12-15 years), the child’s cognitive structures are like those of an adult and include conceptual reasoning (Huitt, W., & Hummel, J. 2003).

Although there are other theories that focus on students’ readiness to enter kindergarten such as maturationist, environmentalist, and constructivist theory, the choice to use developmental theory was an effort to combine concepts of each theory as an illustration of an invisible time line that children go through as they grow from infancy to adulthood. It is interesting to wonder how children catch on to what is expected of them such as breastfeeding,
the suckle to obtain their milk, or the smile of comfort as they nestle in a mother’s arm to nap, and the determination to walk with or without the help of someone.

As a former behavioral specialist with DPS, the behavior patterns are clearer now than they were before. Children come to school with more awareness than adults credit to them. Children’s observations of their environment are very interesting. Parents become the first role models that infants and toddlers imitate, such as, putting a pencil to their lip like a cigarette, picking up items to put in the trash, or learning to use a fork. Little girls twist their hair in ponytails after seeing their parent do the same. Children are intuitive in that they feel the effects of their environment. Parents arguing or minimal sleep at night due to noise in the house at night has an impact. Children bring these feelings to school and the teachers attempt to label the behavior without trying to figure out the motive behind little Stein withdrawing from the class. There are so many things our kids but they know how to do that we do not remember teaching them. Children see, hear and often internalize what’s in their environment whether it’s positive or negative.

Literature will emphasize the structure of an effective classroom for new learners. Learners will be introduced to the idea of following rules and interacting with students that are unfamiliar to them, at first, but learn to make friends with these strangers. At the head of the instruction is an adult authority figure whose responsibilities include building a foundation of learning and socialization. The teacher should focus on enhancing or improving skills with their new learners instead of assuming that they know how to act. These social skills problems should be considered as errors for learning; therefore, this is a golden opportunity to enhance pro-social behaviors to help students adjust to new rules. The use of positive behavior strategies can serve as a solution to improve class management issues and decrease consistent negative behavior. An assessment of classroom management will be observed by using a questionnaire to note problems with structure, including behavior issues. The observation should be completed in approximately seven days with a follow up observation period after behavior modifications have been implemented in the classroom.

Classroom Management

Classroom management focuses on procedures necessary to establish and maintain an environment in which instruction and learning can occur. A typical kindergarten class consists of a teacher and a teacher assistant with approximately twenty five students. The management demands of a kindergarten class require a level of conformity and control that challenges many entering students. The student cannot demand the attention of the teacher as will; however, each student must learn to raise his/her hand for individual attention and wait while the teacher is attending to other students. The new learner must learn to demonstrate the mastery of following behaviors: sit quietly, listen to both the teacher and other students, communicate needs and
wants, maintain appropriate behavior, complete task both independently and with others, share resources, and to treat others respectfully (Durham Public Schools, 2002).

Classroom behavior is one of many challenging issues teachers face. Disruptive behavior results in lost curriculum time and creates an environment that is not always conducive to learning. As stated by Pearson, one key to nipping behavioral problems in the bud is to promote positive behavior before problems arise (Pearson Educations Development Group, 2006). It is important to have a foundation that encourages positive classroom behavior. Successful classroom management involves not only responding effectively when problems occur but proactively preventing the frequent occurrences of problems. One strategy to practice mirrors that clear classroom management is based on a clear concept of the goals and intended outcomes
that a teacher wishes to accomplish (Florida Department of Education, n.d.).

As noted in K. Cotton’s article, School-wide and Classroom Discipline, various researchers have noted that effective classroom management comprises a number of practices in order to maintain an appropriate educational setting. Teachers should hold and communicate high expectations for their students’ learning and behavior, which informs students of classroom requirements. Students should be made to understand that they are expected to learn and behave appropriately. The teacher should establish and teach classroom rules and procedures. The behavioral rules and classroom routines are taught in the same manner in which instructional content is taught and should be repeated often, at the beginning of the school year and reviewed periodically thereafter (Cotton, 2001). Classroom rules should be posted in kindergarten classrooms consisting of no more than three to four simple rules. For example, speak nicely, stay in assigned seat, raise your hand for the teacher, and keep your feet and hands to yourself.

Teachers should incorporate a behavior management system (DPS, 2002) which details consequences when a student demonstrates negative behavior as well as rewards for positive behaviors. The management system is a color coded system, assigning specific behaviors for each color in the system. Although most teachers use three colors (green yellow, red) in the behavior system, a teacher at one of the area schools uses at least five colors because she wanted to give students a chance to correct negative behaviors (personal communication, November 5, 2003). For example, for green, the student followed class rules and demonstrated appropriate behavior; the color yellow means that the student has had a few mishaps and needed reminders to
get on track; orange may be a brief separation from the group to think about their behavior; blue could mean silent lunch; purple means a note goes home; and red means the student had a difficult time following directions, his interactions with peers were poor, and/or incomplete work assignments (DPS, 2002). Using a management system serves as a visible tool for students to see their progress throughout the day. The teacher can use the management system to provide rewards at the end of the week to praise (positive reinforcement) students for their progress.

Furthermore, classroom rules should be enforced consistently. A teacher’s response to negative behavior should demonstrate consistency regardless of the gender, race, or other personal characteristics. By sharing responsibility for classroom management, the teacher will be able to instill in students a sense of belonging. In addition, teachers should maintain a pace for instruction and making smooth transitions between activities. The teacher will be able to keep the class on schedule, which increase learning as well as reducing the likelihood of misbehavior. Also, monitoring classroom activities and providing feedback will help the teacher maintain a visual observation on student behavior as well as guide students to make good choices (Cotton, 2001).

Treat Social Skills Deficits as Errors in Learning

In structuring a classroom with appropriate rules, daily operations of learning, and a posted schedule, it is imperative to include social skills training as an area of learning. Generally, this is the first time kindergarten students will be separated from the parent for an extended time, encounter new skills and surroundings, and a setting that is structured on leaning instead of play. It is important for the teacher to identify prosocial behaviors for appropriate instruction. Pro-social behavior includes taking turns, working with a partner, following directions, working in groups, displaying appropriate behavior toward peers and adults, increasing positive relationships, demonstrating positive verbal and nonverbal relationships, showing interest and caring; and settling conflicts without fighting (ERIC Digest, 1996).

First, social skills problems should be viewed as errors in learning; therefore, the appropriate skills need to be taught directly and actively (ERIC Digest, 1996). If one were to expect students to learn appropriate social skills one must structure the learning environment so that the skills can be addressed and practiced. The classroom is an appropriate environment to increase the opportunity for students to interact with each other, learning to share, play, talk, and laugh as classmates. If all a student does is perform as a passive participant in the classroom then little growth in social sill attainment can be expected. Just as students improve in reading when they are given the opportunity to read, they get better at interacting when given the opportunity
to initiate or respond to others’ interactions.

Modeling provides a visual opportunity to demonstrate appropriate behavior whether a task or behavior. It can be an excellent technique to enhance a students’ socialization because teachers can serve as role models to demonstrate replacement behavior. Replacement behaviors are the desired behaviors a teacher wants a student to learn and display in the classroom. For example, if a student talks out of turn during lectures for attention, the teacher ignores the behavior until he complies with the class rule to raise his or her hand before speaking. When the Student complies with the redirection which is the replacement behavior to raise his hand, the student receives praise for following class rules. In situations where appropriate behavior is difficult for students to learn, modeling can be balanced with instruction. Through modeling and imitation, students can develop new behaviors. Modeling can be as simple as having a child watch another child sharpen a pencil. Through watching the action of another student, a student will learn the new behavior or strengthen previously learned behaviors like saying thank you (Brophy, 1996).

To use modeling effectively, one must determine whether a child has the ability to imitate the modeling behavior. In classroom settings, a student’s response to modeling is influenced by three factors: is this a student whom the other students like and respect, is this child capable of observing and imitating the behavior, and the positive or negative consequences associated with the behavior (Brophy, 1996). Students are likely to respond to a teacher modeling when they view the teacher as competent, nurturing, supportive, fun, and interesting. Students are more likely to imitate behavior that results in a positive consequence.

According to the article, Enhancing Students’ Socialization (Brophy, 1996), younger children have been reported to imitate more frequently than older children. Children consistently model someone with whom they value or admire. They also imitate the behavior of a same-sex child more often then that of a different sex child. They model someone whom they perceive as successful and socially valued regardless of whether the teacher perceives that child as being successful. Finally, if a child observes a model being reinforced or punished for certain behavior, this influences the likelihood that the child will then model that behavior.

In addition to modeling, social skills instruction training can be conducted in small groups outside the classroom with a trained instructor. The focus of the instruction is to help students overcome challenging behaviors. Typically, the instruction involves both direct instruction and teacher mediation (Jolivette et al., 2000). Direct instruction identifies the specific social skills needing development and provides teacher directed instruction and practice across natural settings. Teacher mediated strategies rely on teacher prompted interactive behavior that is reinforced for appropriate responses. The goals of such curricula include allowing the individual to initiate and develop positive social relationships, facilitating the individual’s ability to effectively cope with behavioral expectations of daily living and providing the basis for effective self determination (Jolivette et al., 2000). Most schools have incorporated social skill training for students who have difficulty interacting positively with peers. The focus of the group is to improve socialization skills in the classroom (DPS, 20002).

Positive Behavior Support

There is growing recognition that schools should adopt a variety of practices to create and maintain safe, proactive (positive and preventive) learning environments. This is accomplished through the establishment and delivery of a curriculum that addresses the academic and behavioral needs of all students, and creates an organizational system that enables educators to implement in an accurate and sustainable manner for all students. Disruptive and dangerous behaviors affect all students and staff. To prevent rather than react to the occurrence of these behaviors, school systems need to design a school-wide approach to the prevention of problem behaviors (Tidwell, A., Flannery, K. B., Lewis-Palmer, T., 2003).

When classroom structure fails to assimilate students into a positive learning setting, positive behavior strategies (PBS) can be implemented as a support approach for students who are demonstrating disruptive behavior in the classroom. The behaviors become a concern because they interfere with the teacher’s effort to teach other students. PBS is a proactive approach to discipline that contains both individualized and systematic strategies using positive
behavior strategies for achieving social and learning outcomes while preventing and changing problem behavior (Ausdemore, Martella, and Marchand-Martella, 2003). Therefore, PBS is based on the idea that the teacher addresses the behavioral issues and needs of the student in the class including strategies for preventing challenging behavior and intervening when such behavior does occur (Jolivette et al, 2000).

Unlike traditional behavioral management which views the individual as the problem and seeks to fix him or her by eliminating the challenging behavior, positive behavior strategies analyze the classroom and lack of skills as parts of the problem and work to change it (Wagner, 1999). The strategies are characterized as long term to reduce inappropriate behavior, teach more appropriate behavior, and provide appropriate supports necessary for successful outcomes. PBS can help teachers and parents understand why the challenging behavior occurs while focusing on the function or purpose of the behavior for the student. In addition to helping the teacher understand the student with the challenging behavior, PBS also helps them understand the physical and social perspective of the behavior (Wagner, 1999). Therefore, PBS provides a framework for helping the student to change challenging behaviors.

According to the behavioral support team for Durham Public School (DPS, 2002), various strategies can be implemented to help teachers manage classroom management issues.

The following strategies include:

Transitional Ritual is an instructional process to help students transition from one situation to another such as explaining what behavior is expected during lessons in class and attending specials. For example, the teacher informs her students that the class will have music today. The teacher explains to the students the behavior they will demonstrate in the hallway such as walk on the right side of the hallways in a straight line voices are off and keep your hands to yourself.

Greeting Ritual is a morning greeting as the student enters the classroom. Small chit-chat with each student helps set the student’s mind for learning and starts the day positively. Positive Reinforcement is praising the student for appropriate behavior throughout the day. For example, the teacher praises the students for sitting quietly at their desks and doing their work, ‘I like the way you work at your desk quietly’.

Walk & Talk is an approach designed to utilize the benefits of movement in the communication process. The movement helps the student talk about his behavior and gives him/her a break from the educational environment.

Problem Solving Individually is a process where the teacher helps the student state a problem and solutions to correct the problem.

Conflict Resolution is a process for the teacher to help students deal with conflicts in the class.

Processing is an activity to help students understand their emotions and behaviors by discussing the activities that will lead to improved behavior.

Group Recreation are structured activities designed to help the student understand and deal with emotions in a socially acceptable manner as well as develop skills and self confidence in personal awareness. For example, teaching students how to interact with each other on the playground, centers, and group focusing on sharing, helping, and taking turns.

Modeling is an approach designed to demonstrate to students how to accomplish a task like sharpening a pencil or the desired behavior for the classroom like sitting correctly at the desk with feet in front and facing forward.

Time-Out inside the classroom can be an effective strategy. It excludes the student from the opportunity to participate with others and receive any kind of positive reinforcement. however, it is likely to be overused and misused in the classroom. The purpose of a brief time out for a few minutes can exert a positive influence on a student’s classroom behavior when applied appropriately; however, many teachers apply time out ineffectively. Through visual observation as a behavioral support specialist, teachers have a tendency to forget the student in time out or the student is allowed to leave time out
without processing the inappropriate behavior that lead to separation from other students.

The teacher has missed an opportunity to process the negative behavior turning the time out into an opportunity of learning. This strategy should be implemented as a last resort for students who demonstrate negative behavior in the class.

Cognitive Behavior Therapy

Next to decrease disruptive behaviors, cognitive behavior therapy is a combination of cognitive therapy which deals primarily with identifying and changing problematic thoughts and beliefs (Winston, J., 2003). Behavior therapy works to change negative behaviors. Using both cognitive and behavioral techniques focus on the child more than on the parents or the family unit. CBT helps the child gain the ability to self manage thoughts and feelings interact appropriately with others by developing new solutions.

CBT helps the child change scary thoughts and negative behaviors in order to begin facing the situation that result in anxiety with more confidence. This is a gradual process to overcome the anxiety producing situation (Winston, 2003). As the child begins to apply these skills to stressful situations and the anxiety is reduced, their confidence will increase little by little. The child will be able to remain in control in situations that previously provoked high level
of distress. Interventions that are primarily cognitive in nature include, but are not limited to, self-instruction training, problem-solving training, attribution retraining, and the cognitive restructuring approaches such as Beck's (1976) cognitive therapy and Ellis's (1962) rational-
emotive therapy (RET) (Maag, J. W, Swearer, S. M, 2005). Effective CBI techniques with young people include behavioral components such as modeling, role playing, and positive reinforcement In many cases, the implementation of behavioral interventions should precede cognitive interventions (Maag, J.W., Swearer, S.M, 2005). This sequence helps young people elevate their mood before they can engage in, and benefit from, cognitive restructuring.


As a former behavioral specialist, I have determined that, many negative behaviors were a result of poor classroom management for two reasons. First, teachers treated the incoming students as babies instead of students for learning. Teachers felt the students were so cute and cuddly and just wanted to hug them. Second, teachers assumed that students knew better to display negative behaviors. Teachers forget that the school environment is different than home; therefore, a teacher should not expect a student to know about appropriate behaviors. School is a learning environment; appropriate behaviors should be taught and modeled for positive outcomes. Hugs and kisses should be used as positive reinforcement or greet ritual not because
they look so cute and adorable.

When an individual accepts a position as a teacher, they are assuming the role of ‘in loco parentis’. They are responsible for a diverse population of students in situations where individual differences are to be expected and accepted. An attitude of caring and an orientation to students is important for socializing students into an educational setting that implies learning. Interacting with students for several hours each day in various situations puts teachers in a position to take direct action in helping students cope with their problems. Developing the skills for enhancing a student’s socialization represent a growth of the teacher’s role beyond that of instructor or classroom manager. Young learners have to be taught what is appropriate behavior and the appropriate behavior according to the standards set by the teachers in the class as well as the school. It is important to begin each day with circle time where the teacher can discuss the activities of the day including a review of the rules to help students remember what is required of them. The teacher should take the time to get to know all students individually and build a relationship with them.


Ausdemore, K., Martella, R., and Marchand-Martella, N. (2005). School-wide Positive Behavioral Support: A Continuum of Proactive Strategies for All Students. New Horizons for Learning. Retrieved 18, 2006 from

Brophy, Jere. (1996). Enhancing Students’ Socialization: Key Elements. ERIC Clearinghouse on Elementary and Early Childhood Education. Retrieved February 27, 2006 from

Cotton, Kathleen. (2001). School-wide and Classroom Discipline. School Improvement Research Series. Retrieved January 18, 2006 from

Department of Public Instruction. Durham Public Schools. (2002). Behavior Support Section Counseling Techniques.

ERIC Clearinghouse on Disabilities and Gifted Education. (1996). Behavioral Disorders: Focus on Change. Retrieved January 30, 2006, from

Florida Department of Education (n.d.). Strategies for Classroom Managemnt. Retrieved January 31, 2006 from

Gale, Thompson (2005). Cognitive and Behavior Therapies. Mental Health Therapies-Psycotherapy, Insight Therapy Cognitive A….Retrieved January 28, 2006 from Health-Therapies.html

Jolivette, K., Stichter, J.P., Nelson, C.M., Scott, T.M., & Liaupsin, C.J. (2000). Improving Post-School Outcomes for Students with Emotional and Behavioral Disorders. ERIC Clearinghouse on Disabilities and Gifted Education. Retrieved January 29, 2006 from

Maag, John W; Swearer, Susan M (2005). Journal of Behavioral Disorders. Cognitive behavioral interventions for depression: Review and implications for school personnel. Retrieved April 11, 2007 from

On Purpose Associates. (1998-2001). Piaget Funderstanding. Retrieved May 12, 2006 from

Pearson Education Development Group, Inc. (2006). The Art of Teaching: Laying the Foundation for Positive Classroom Behavior. Retrieved February 1, 2006 from

Project PARA. (2005). Behavior Management. Retrieved February 1, 2006 from

Stormont, M., Lewis, T. J, Smith, S. C. (2005). Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions: Behavior Support Strategies in Early Childhood Settings: Teachers' Importance and Feasibility Ratings. Retrieved April 11, 2007 from

Tidwell, Amy; Flannery, K Brigid; Lewis-Palmer, Teri (2003). Journal of Preventing School Failure: A description of elementary classroom discipline referral patterns. Retrieved April 11, 2007 from

Wagner, Cynthia (1999). Positive Behavior Support and Functional Assessment. ERIC Clearinghouse on Disabilities and Gifted Education. Retrieved January 28, 2006 from

Winston, John (1996-2003). Cognitive Behavior Therapy: The Basics. New York Institute for Cognitive and Behavioral Therapies. Retrieved February 2, 2006 from