Behavior Management | The Classroom Contract Strategy

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Written by Alison Smith

Are you struggling with behavior management in your classroom? If that’s a yes, you are not alone. Most importantly, it’s time to let go of any feelings of failure. Behavior management is a challenge for many teachers. Check out our huge collection of posters!

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Let’s be honest, when behavior management is a problem in your classroom, every day at school can seem like an uphill climb. So, if you’re feeling a little defeated by your students’ behavior right now, its time to take action and make a positive change. Read on to find out how…


What Makes Behavior Management a Tough Gig?

Students are incredible and inspiring. Just like you and me, they feel happy, confident, and at ease when expectations of them are crystal clear. Similarly, students are more likely to reach their academic potential when they are supported by clear rules and boundaries.So, what makes behavior management so challenging?

In a nutshell, it’s because behavior management needs consistent input, adjusting, and fine-tuning.

So, as your students change and develop, so too must your behavior management strategies. And the bad news is that what might have worked last semester or last year, may not work anymore.

Shutterstock image by Courtney Johnson

Therefore, to be a highly effective teacher our approach to behavior management needs to be flexible, versatile, and constantly evolving.

Check out our Behavior Management Collection for an extensive collection of rules and behavior related teaching resources.


Student-Led Classroom Contracts

So, what’s the solution? Try a student-led classroom contract!

A student-led classroom contract is a behavior management tool that makes expectations of behavior explicit. It is an agreement between students and teacher, based on student ideas. A student-led classroom contract empowers your students and makes them accountable.

Let Your Students Own It!

Shutterstock image by Rawpixel.com

So, when is the best time for you to introduce a student-led contract? Straight up – anytime in the school year. In other words, you can introduce it at the start or end of the year, anytime when you need a reset, or after a long break.


The Benefits of a Student-led Classroom Contract

Creating a student-led behavior contract has many benefits. For example, this behavior management strategy:

  • empowers and motivates students by giving them ownership
  • is a catalyst for collaboration and teamwork
  • encourages students to develop self-management skills and self-reflection
  • can be used to improve home/school communication
  • offers flexibility and versatility
  • can be implemented at any time.

Shutterstock image by Syda Productions

Check out our Personal and Social Capability Badges Resource Pack that includes a collection of student badges that celebrate student success and progress in life skills, personal development, and social development.


Classroom Contract Task Cards

To create the ultimate behavior management system, there are a few essentials steps to take including:

  • a classroom discussion
  • small group work
  • teacher/student collaboration
  • supportive teacher instruction.

Our Classroom Contract Task Cards have been designed to facilitate whole-class or small group discussions. Each task card encourages your students to discuss what a particular behavior would look, sound, and feel like. You could use these task cards in conjunction with our Y-Chart Graphic Organizer.

We have selected 10 important behavior management areas. Don’t feel the need to cover all of the areas. Just pick out the ones most relevant to your behavior management needs. What’s more, there are a few blank cards to allow you to add your own discussion points.


Behavior Management Anchor Chart

When you have gathered your students’ opinions and ideas, it’s time to provide supportive teacher instruction. This step helps to filter and organize ideas.

An anchor chart is a teaching tool that allows you to literally ‘anchor‘ your students learning. Most importantly, it allows you to facilitate teacher instruction without taking the power away from your students.

Create your chart together by using a good old marker pen or sticky notes. Help your students to sort their ideas by providing the headings.

For more anchor chart inspiration read our blog, 25 Awesome Classroom Anchor Charts.


Choose Your Top Ten (or Less)

When you and your students have gathered ideas, organized them under headings, and filtered them once, it’s time to filter them again!

So at this stage, you are likely to encounter duplicate ideas (the same idea phrased differently). For example, ‘raise your hand to speak’ and ‘don’t blurt’. In these instances, choose the more specific wording that makes the expectation explicit.

As a class, choose the rules that are most important to improve your current classroom culture. Keep it to 10 rules or less. Any more than this and you’ll run the risk of students becoming overwhelmed which leads to failure. Also, start each statement with‘do’ rather than don’t. For example: ‘Do use a quiet voice’.


Student Signatures

For ultimate student ownership, ask your students to sign a copy of the contract. Also, it’s very powerful to send your classroom contract home as part of a homework task. Encourage your students to share their contract with a parent or guardian and to discuss the importance of each statement.

Shutterstock image by Syda Productions

One final point… to make your classroom contract highly effective, it is critical to revisit, review, and reinforce your classroom contract daily.

For more helpful information on how to create a student-led classroom contract, read my blog Student-Led Classroom Contract | Upper Years.

It’s time to get your teacher superhero cape on once again and make a change! And remember, it’s all about making your expectations crystal clear, empowering students, and making them accountable.

Share your wins and support your tribe @teacherstarter_texas.

Make your classroom buzz! Create a free Teach Starter account and download hundreds of time-saving resources. Find out more


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