Information on this page about the interventions is based on the book, Prevent-Teach-Reinforce: The School-Based Model of Individualized Positive Behavior Support, Second Edition by G. Dunlap, R. Iovannone, D. Kincaid, K. Wilson, K. Christiansen, and P. S. Strain. 

What is the strategy? Why does it work?

Procedures, strategies, and instructional methods that enhance appropriate student behavior and engagement in learning activities. It includes a clear description of the organization and structure of the environment. It involves the description of the instructional activities, behavioral procedures and routines, along with setting up a clear, comprehensible system of how a classroom will operate and how daily activities will occur so that appropriate
behavior is encouraged and rewarded. When classrooms have clear rules for appropriate behavior that are consistently taught and reinforced, teachers spend less time addressing challenging behaviors and more time in instructional activities.

Effective classroom management practices have the following features (Simonsen et al., 2008):

(a) highly structured

(b) post, teach, review, monitor and reinforce expectations

(c) use clear strategies to engage students in instruction

(d) establish and use a continuum of responses to appropriate behaviors

(e) use a continuum of responses and strategies to consistently respond to inappropriate behaviors

This strategy is one that will be developed for use with the entire classroom; however, there may need to be additional strategy steps that ensures the specific student for whom the PTR intervention is being developed will be prevented in performing challenging behaviors with classroom management. For some situations, a group-oriented contingency may be used to address a specific student’s challenging behavior within the classroom management plan.

Functions and antecedents the classroom management intervention works for

  • Student engages in challenging behaviors due to inconsistent or unclear behavior management procedures
  • Challenging behavior occurs when classroom management is delivered in a negative manner
  • Other students in classroom appear to have behavior challenges in similar contexts
  • Classroom structure is not clear to other adults in the school setting

Steps for Implementation

  1. Identify the specific features and routines in which the challenging behavior occurs in relation to classroom management issues.
    • This includes the specific activities the student is expected to be doing, what other students are doing when the behavior occurs, what teachers and other adults are doing.
  2. Evaluate which of the five essential features described are not currently implemented in the classroom
    • Structure; posting, teaching, reviewing, monitoring, reinforcing expectations; actively engaging students; continuum of strategies reinforcing appropriate behavior; continuum of strategies responding to inappropriate behavior)
  3. For each feature identified as a need, determine how that feature will be established in the classroom organizational procedures. Describe each one in enough detail so that all adults in the context can implement and teach the system.
    • For example, if guided note-taking will be implemented under increasing academic engagement, the procedures would describe:
      • (a) how the teacher will determine which lectures/assignments require guided notes
      • (b) how the teacher will prepare the guided notes prior to the lecture/assignment by determining the key facts/concepts (via highlighting, underlining, or gesturing) for which the student will be responsible for completing
      • (c) how the guided notes will be reviewed with the student(s) including the information that the student will be responsible for completing
      • (d) initial teaching and modeling of using the guided notes (via computer/LCD or other technology in which the teacher displays the guided notes and completes the blanks as the information is presented
      • (e) how the modeling will be gradually decreased.
  1. Elicit student choices in classroom management features.
    • For example, in determining the behavioral expectations, have students vote on the top three expectations they would like everyone to perform in the classroom.
  2. Develop lesson plans to directly teach the classroom management system to the students. Provide explanations for each component, models of behavioral expectations as well as models of inappropriate behaviors, role plays of responses to appropriate and inappropriate behaviors, and provide opportunities for students to practice.
    • Determine level of prompting to remind student of appropriate rules (e.g., visual cues, gestures, verbal prompts)
    • Determine responses to students after showing appropriate behavior and after showing behavior that is breaking a rule
      • Ex: state rule that was broken, model expected behavior for rule, have student practice, etc.
    • Determine how to reinforce student for performing appropriate behavior and for following rules before they have a chance to exhibit inappropriate behavior
      • Consider function of challenging behavior when determining reinforcement.
    • Initially, the teacher will provide frequent opportunities for students to practice behavioral expectations while being acknowledged for appropriate and inappropriate behaviors. The frequency can be gradually faded as students learn the system and behaviors improve.

Additional Considerations when Implementing

  • Classroom rules should be aligned with school-wide expectations, written using positive statements, and there should not be more than
  • Create opportunities to teach classroom rules & behavioral expectations in positive way and on consistent basis.
  • Naturally embed classroom rules into daily lessons & activities to provide plenty of opportunities for practice.
  • Focus on physical arrangement of classroom.
    • Some challenging behaviors can be avoided if teacher has easy access to all students and students can move around room without disrupting peers
    • Make sure student with challenging behavior is in accessible location and separate from peers that can be distracting.
  • When selecting and implementing classroom management as a prevention strategy for specific student, consider whether supplemental interventions may be necessary.
    • For example, the teacher may provide the student with a higher rate of acknowledging appropriate behavior than the other students or may develop a behavioral contract that establishes a goal and reinforcement for performing the appropriate behavior while decreasing the challenging behavior.
  • Classroom management procedures are permanent, and it is important that the teacher be consistent in teaching the system. Although students may learn the classroom management procedures soon after implementation, consider having days in which a focus will be on performing and acknowledging one specific expectation or having a surprise reinforcement lottery that will be held on a specific date.

How to implement this strategy in multiple ways (examples & resources)

Providing structure

  • Establish a schedule for how the instructional day flows including transitions and free-time. Consistently follow the schedule.
  • Post the schedule visually so that all students can view it.
  • Refer to the schedule throughout the day so that students can learn and predict the daily routine
  • If multiple adults are in the classroom, provide a schedule of what each adult will be doing within each routine throughout the day.
  • Physically arrange the classroom so that adults can see all students and the students can see the adults. Students can move throughout the classroom without disturbing peers.
  • Use visual props/displays to indicate classroom procedures and routines (e.g., Stop sign on computers when unavailable).
  • For more resources and ideas, see Environmental Supports and Transition Supports pages

Posting, teaching, reviewing, monitoring, and reinforcing behavioral expectations

Retrieved from Evertson, C., Poole, I., & the IRIS Center. (2003). Establishing classroom norms and expectations. Retrieved from

  • Provide opportunities for the student to show appropriate “rule-following”
  • Prompt the student for appropriate behavior before the chance to exhibit
    inappropriate behavior.
  • Embed classroom rules into daily lessons and activities. A specific behavior can
    be the focus each week.
    • Example: A rule, ‘speak kindly to others’, can be a theme for
      instructional activities. The student (along with the rest of the class) can
      play detective and count how many times the student, and others, are
      “caught in the act” of speaking kindly. Books that have characters
      struggling with speaking kindly to others can be read throughout the
  • Provide peers with opportunities to teach classroom behavioral expectations to peers.
    • For more resources and ideas, see Peer Modeling page
  • Set up weekly rewards for student(s) who have been “caught” most often following the class rules.
  • Provide active supervision by being vigilant in responding to appropriate behaviors.

Actively engage students

  • Increase the frequency of delivering instruction that provide students with opportunities to respond (OTR).
  • When providing a lecture or a task assignment in which students need to take notes use guided note strategies. This not only reduces the amount of the task the student needs to complete, but it also provides the student with a model for how to take notes by focusing on key concepts and facts.

Continuum of strategies to acknowledge appropriate behavior

  • Provide specific praise following students performing behavioral expectations.
  • Set up a token economy, preferably aligned with a school-wide reward system.
  • Setting up group-oriented contingencies
    • Providing incentives to student based on individual behaviors
    • Setting up groups or team of students in what they earn incentives based on behavior of one student or small subgroup of student within the team
    • Setting up groups or teams of students in which the team’s behavior reach criteria to earn incentives
    • The Good Behavior Game (Student/Teacher Game)
  • For more resources and ideas, see page on Reinforcing Replacement Behavior

Continuum of strategies to respond to inappropriate behavior

  • When responding to inappropriate behaviors, use error correction procedures.
    • For example, if a student performs a behavior that does not align with respectful behavior-saying positive comments to others, the teacher will respond immediately by stating the behavior the student performed and the behavioral expectation that it did not follow. The teacher will then model the behavioral expectation and ask the student to imitate the model of appropriate behavior.
  • Developing a hierarchy of responses to inappropriate behaviors and the conditions in which they will be used. This includes inappropriate behaviors that will be handled within the classroom and the behaviors that will be handled by the office.
    • An example of a hierarchy for disruptive behavior could include error correction, behavioral contracting, contacting parents, differential reinforcement, and conferencing with the student.
  • For more resources and ideas, see page for Discontinuing Reinforcement of Problem Behavior

General Classroom Management Resources

Creating Effective Classroom Environments Plan Template – Educators can download this template from PBIS and create their own plan to implement PBIS in their classroom. The template includes opportunity to develop a classroom matrix, create lesson plans to teach expected behavior, script prompts or reminders for desired behavior, and plan praise and corrections.

Evidence-Based Classroom Strategies for Teachers: Supporting and Responding to Behaviors – This document outlines classroom interventions and supports, divided into foundations, practices, and data systems to improve classroom management and increase engagement. Examples of detailed strategies related to settings, routines, expectations, supervision, opportunity, acknowledgement, and more are provided. Elementary and secondary examples are provided, as well as nonexamples. Additional resources embedded throughout.

Establishing Classroom Norms and Expectations (Case Study Unit) – Provides specific details on the strategies of stating expectations clearly, implementing classroom rules and procedures, supporting expectations consistently, and re-evaluating established norms. Case studies are also presented.

BrainZones: This iOS app has a variety of research-based strategies, lesson plans, games, and activities for classroom management (e.g., classroom structure & routines, rules, praise & other rewards, utilizing movement, effective transitions, managing behavior challenges, etc.)

Supporting Research

Conklin, C. G., Kamps, D., & Wills, H. (2017). The effects of Class-Wide Function-related Intervention Teams (CW-FIT) on students’ prosocial classroom behaviors. Journal of Behavioral Education, 26(1), 75–100.

Floress, M. T., & Jacoby, A. L. (2017). The Caterpillar Game: A SW-PBIS aligned classroom management system. Journal of Applied School Psychology, 33(1), 16–42.

Simonsen, B., Fairbanks, S., Briesch, A., Myers, D., & Sugai, G. (2008). Evidence-based practices in classroom management: Considerations for research to practice. Education & Treatment of Children, 31(3), 351–380.

Sy, J. R., Gratz, O., & Donaldson, J. M. (2016). The good behavior game with students in alternative educational environments: Interactions between reinforcement criteria and scoring accuracy. Journal of Behavioral Education, 25(4), 455–477.

Trussell, R.P., Lewis, T.J., & Raynor, C. (2016). The impact of universal teacher practices and function-based behavior interventions on the rates of problem behaviors among at-risk students. Education and Treatment of Children 39(3), 261-282.

Trussell, R. P., Lewis, T. J., & Stichter, J. P. (2008). The impact of targeted classroom interventions and function-based behavior interventions on problem behaviors of students with emotional/behavioral disorders. Behavioral Disorders, 33(3), 153–166.