Dealing with classroom behaviors is a huge challenge for classroom teachers. To get the supports and services your challenging students may need, you'll need to provide data to show the frequency of behaviors as well as documentation of the strategies you used. This blog is all about tips for simple and effective ways to keep documentation.
Choose One Behavior To Track
Choose one behavior at a time. I know there are likely numerous behaviors of concern, but you'll need to focus on just one at a time. Focusing on one behavior at a time will help you to determine the function (the reason why the behavior happens) more quickly. Once you determine the function, it becomes much easier to come up with an effective plan.
When choosing which behavior to focus on first, you'll want to choose the behavior that is the most disruptive or dangerous. For example, if you have a student who calls out frequently but also elopes the classroom. You will need to address the elopement first because that is much more dangerous than calling out (even though the constant calling out may super annoying).
Document Strategies, Accommodations, and Modifications
Make yourself a list of the strategies you use with your students. You can include the date you tried the strategy, how long you used it, and how effective (or ineffective) it was. This information will be extremely helpful later when choosing what strategies to use in a behavior plan.
Having a list of the strategies you have tried (whether they work or not) can help a behavior specialist to generate new ideas. It will also provide documentation to present to an administrator to show how hard you've been working to help your students. This set of checklists in my TPT store can help you keep this documentation easily.
Pick a documentation form and stick with it.
ABC (Antecedent, Behavior Consequence) forms are a great tool to be able to see the whole picture of why behaviors are happening. You'll record what happened just before the behavior, the behavior, and what happened in response to the behavior (the consequence).
Frequency forms are great for tracking how often a behavior occurs. These are great for tracking behaviors like calling out, complying or not complying with directions, and other behaviors that may happen frequently. You'll write the criteria for tracking the behavior and then tally or cross off a number each time the behavior occurs.
Use a Behavior Log with Parents
Another great tool to use for documenting behavior is a simple take-home page. You can use a daily, weekly, or monthly form to communicate with parents. Parents sign or initial for form each day so you'll have documentation that you communicated the concerns to the family.
Tip: if you are worried the form may not be returned, make a copy for your records before you send it home.
Tips For Choosing the Right Tracking Form
There are a variety of behavior documentation forms out there. Choosing the correct form can be tricky. You'll want to choose the form that works best for you so that you use it consistently. Consistency is more important than the form you choose. When you use a form consistently, you'll be able to draw conclusions and see trends. If you need forms to use, you can check out my Editable Behavior Forms here in my TPT store.
Frequency forms (tally charts) are great for behaviors that happen often. They work best for behaviors like calling out, interrupting, or moving around the classroom.
ABC forms are great for more intense behaviors like tantrums, eloping the classroom, hurting classmates or staff, etc.
Interval data is great for assessing time on task or similar behaviors. These are difficult to do while you are teaching. It's helpful to have another adult (maybe a counselor or special ed. teacher) help you to take this kind of data.
If behaviors are infrequent, you may just take anecdotal notes to keep track of behavior incidents. If a student has an outburst or tantrum every few weeks or once a month, you may be able to track them this way. Just be sure to include as much information as possible.
Looking for a simple behavior intervention? Learn more about using Token Boards here on the blog.
Dealing with classroom behaviors is often the most overwhelming part of teaching. Once you have some behavior data, you'll be able to find the right interventions for your student. Good luck!