Improved Student Behavior:
Step by Step

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Step 5 Providing feedback and rewards

Recognize students doing things right in addition to correcting errors. Strive for a 5:1 ratio of 5 positive feedback instances for each 1 negative one. A system of awarding points that convert to tangible or privilege rewards can be motivating. However, encourage students to take pride in behaving in the desired way rather than behaving as a means to earning rewards.

PBIS strongly advocates a particular approach to teaching students desired behavior: recognizing appropriate behavior. In fact, you may find some vendors equating PBIS with a tool for awarding points for positive behavior.

There is no question whether positive feedback is an effective teacher. It is. Teachers know this from their own teaching. Provide abundant feedback while students are learning new material. Review regularly. Taper off the feedback after the lesson is learned.

Too often behavior has been taught through negative feedback. In fact, too often, expected behavior has not been taught at all. It is assumed that students already know what behavior is expected. If they don't behave that way, they're given punitive consequences. Other subjects like math, science and reading aren't taught that way and behavior should not be taught that way either.

There are a few things to keep in mind about

How to track one-click merits with Behavior Manager

One click meritsBehavior Manager includes the ability to track positive feedback for individual students. Merits can be defined and awarded for a variety of purposes. If your school uses a different name for positive feedback points, Behavior Manager can use your name instead.

Key: Minimize any distraction from instruction.

The key to a tool like this is making it useful with the absolute minimum amount of effort or distraction. Every minute that you're using a tool like this is a minute of attention that is taken from instruction time. So it should be as effortless as possible. We figured that the theoretical minimum effort would be one tap, so that's how it's designed to work.

You can set up a page for your class with a set of color-coded behaviors that you want to recognize. Each student is listed with a set of color-coded checkboxes corresponding to the behaviors. If you wish to recognize student Christopher Allred for Teamwork, tap his yellow checkbox. The Merit will be automatically entered into the database. As you do, give Christopher a nod, wink, pat on the shoulder or verbal feedback to let him know you've recognized his good work. That's it. One tap and you're done.

The small horizontal bar below each name represents the number of merits that the student has been awarded. Be aware of students who are receiving merits. Make sure you spread recognition around the class fairly. Keep in mind that students with the most challenging behavior may be the ones that need positive feedback the most.

While you're not likely to record every smile, wink or positive remark, you can collect data on positive and negative interactions.

Merits appear in each student's behavior history along with misbehaviors. You can compare the merits to misbehaviors to judge your ratio.

Star boardStudents can also get visual feedback from the merit Star Board. The Star Board is a page that can be projected showing the list of students with color-coded stars by their names, each indicating the category of merit that has been awarded. If you choose, the students' names can be replaced by "secret identities" pseudonyms. Behavior Manager can randomly assign secret identities to students in a class based on plants, animals, birds, cities or vocabulary words.

Converting merits to rewards

Awarding merits to students for meeting expectations or obeying the rules is a form of recognition. Recognition for doing the right thing increases the likelihood that the student will continue to do the right thing.

Some schools prefer to make the reinforcement stronger by enabling students to earn rewards from accumulated merit points. Elementary students may earn a small toy. Teachers often hand out candy or other treats. Students may be allowed special privileges such as being able to sit in the teacher's chair or be first in line for lunch. In higher grades, merits may be traded for access to activities or access to a special area in the cafeteria.

Earning rewards and privileges in exchange for desired behavior is fundamental in society. It is the basis for getting paid for doing a job. It is significant that a reward of this kind is something that is earned, not simply a gift from the teacher.

There is some controversy in schools over whether desired behavior should be traded for items or privileges. Just as adults usually stop working when they stop being paid, the concern is that students may stop behaving properly if the rewards stop. Ideally, reinforcement for desired behavior in schools should be teaching student to prefer proper behavior for its own benefits, not simply as a transaction.

Wherever you come down on the controversy about trading merits for rewards, if it is going to be done, there needs to be some accounting. A benefit of using online merits is that the accounting is easy.

How to exchange merits for rewards in Behavior Manager

Exchange merits for rewardsBehavior Manager includes the merit reward ledger for teachers and schools who choose to offer rewards. Staff can define rewards and the number of merits required to earn each one.

Key: Avoid any additional burden on teachers to manually keep accounts for rewards.

Select a student and a dropdown menu is shown with all possible rewards. The ones for which the student has enough merits in her account are enabled for selection. Click one. The corresponding merits are "spent" and recorded. The student is given the reward. Any remaining merits are maintained in the merit balance, available for future use.

How students use smartphones in Behavior Manager

Most students in middle school and high school, and many in elementary school, have smartphones. The Behavior Manager app delivers information to students immediately on their phones, eliminating the need for paper in many cases. For example, some rewards can be specified as passes for privileges. A student may choose to trade merit points for the privilege of lining up at the front of the lunch line for three days. The reward will show in the app as shown below. When the reward expires, it will no longer appear in the app. Similarly, if a student is caught being tardy in the hall, the teacher can enter a tardy on her phone and a tardy pass will appear immediately on the student's phone, allowing him to go directly to class, missing no more instruction time.

Current reward passes

Current reward passes appear on the student's phone and remain as long as they are valid.



Tardies through phone

Student tardy pass

Administrators and teachers can assign tardies and issue passes from their phones.

A tardy student's pass appears on his phone. He proceeds directly to class, missing no more instruction time.


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