What Are Some Examples of Positive Behavior Supports in the Classroom?

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A teacher uses positive behavior support in the classroom.

Effective education is largely rooted in two components: the subjects that students learn and the environment in which they are taught. There are many factors that contribute to a positive learning environment, such as a teacher’s understanding of how to promote positive behaviors while minimizing negative ones.

Educators and administrators who want to increase their effectiveness in this area may find it helpful to call on the expertise of a behavior analyst. Applied behavior analysis is a type of therapy that’s based on the science of learning and behavior. Behavior analysts are equipped to help educators understand how to implement positive behavior support strategies in the classroom.

Teachers who find themselves wondering “what is positive behavior support” may be interested to learn it involves research-based strategies to change and decrease students’ problem behavior.  For example, behavior analysts not only help educators and administrators see behavior as a form of communication, they help them understand the underlying message behind disruptive behavior.

Professionals who have an interest in working in applied behavior analysis are likely to find that completing an advanced education — such as an online Master of Science in Applied Behavior Analysis — can provide them with the fundamental knowledge and skills to be successful.

What Is Positive Behavior Support?

Understood for All, a nonprofit organization that works with children and adults who have cognitive and learning disabilities, describes positive behavior support (PBS) as being “a proactive approach that schools can use to improve school safety and promote positive behavior.” The focus of this model, the organization notes, is on prevention as opposed to punishment.

According to their website, schools that use positive behavior supports don’t ignore problem behavior, but punishing it is not the focus. “Instead, the focus is on teaching expectations, preventing problems, and using logical consequences. Schools that use [this model] look for appropriate consequences that are effective in changing the student’s behavior, not just in the moment, but in the future as well.”

These research-based supports provide a caring approach to behavior therapy while striving to improve an individual’s behavior. Behavior analysts can help lay the foundation for these and other effective PBS strategies.

Positive Behavior Support Strategies for Teachers

Behavior analysts play an important role in developing strategies that yield positive results in the school learning environment. Examples of positive behavior supports in the classroom can include routines, proximity, task assessment, and positive phrasing.

  1. Classroom Routines: A teacher can promote positive behavior in the classroom by using the ABA technique of establishing routines. These routines encourage students to adopt positive behavior patterns.
    Examples of Classroom Routines
    ●   Incorporate standards for what students should do at arrival and dismissal.
    ●   Incorporate standards for what students should do during breaks and lunch.
    ●   Develop standards for how and when students can ask questions, sharpen a pencil or use the  restroom.
  2. Proximity: Teachers can use the ABA technique of proximity to both visually and verbally engage with their students and support positive behavior. For example, they can move around the classroom to offer help when students raise their hands to ask for assistance. By getting closer to their students, teachers can interact with them one-on-one.
  3. Task Assessment: This is a multifaceted example of positive behavior support in the classroom. Teachers can implement this ABA technique both before and after students work on a task. As they assign a task, teachers can provide guidelines of what behaviors are expected. For instance, teachers can tell their students to stay quiet while they complete a timed test and remind them to raise their hands if they have questions during the test. Teachers should also make sure that students fully understand the desired behavior as the task is assigned. After the students complete the task, the teacher can assess if students completed it with the correct behavior. Teachers can use their assessment to determine if they need to change their strategy of how they assign specific tasks in the future.
  4. Positive Phrasing:  Teachers act as behavioral role models for their students and should model the positive behavior they wish to see in their classrooms. By communicating through positive phrasing, teachers can establish a standard that students can use when speaking to one another and their teachers. When teachers need to correct undesired behavior, they can do so concisely and respectfully to cultivate safe, positive classroom environments. Teachers can also habitually praise good behavior to reinforce how students should act in the classroom.

Gaining the Knowledge to Build Positive Behavior Support Strategies

Professionals who are interested in pursuing a career as a behavior analyst must start by developing the skills and knowledge to be successful. Completing an advanced education, such as an online Master of Science in Applied Behavior Analysis, can provide graduates with the acumen and experience to advance in their career. The master’s degree curriculum at Regis College is specifically designed to help students acquire the insight to develop effective observation-driven positive behavior support strategies. In addition to other key topics, students are taught how to take an individual’s unique behavioral tendencies into account when creating positive behavior supports. The program also provides hands-on experience to help prepare students for real-life careers.

Discover how Regis College’s online Master of Science in Applied Behavior Analysis program can provide you with skills and knowledge to be successful as a behavior analyst.

Recommended Reading

What is Autism Spectrum Disorder and What Should Parents and Educators Know?

The Importance of Parent Training in Applied Behavior Analysis Treatment

Exploring ABA Techniques and Their Role in Treatment   


Autism Speaks, “Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)”

County Health Rankings, School-wide Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (Tier 1) 

Positive Behavioral Interventions & Supports, “PBIS in the Classroom”

Positive Behavioral Interventions & Supports, “Supporting and Responding to Behavior

Raccoon Gang, “What Makes a Good Learning Environment”

Positive Supports Minnesota, “The Relationship Between ABA and Positive Behavior Support

Regis College, Master of Science in Applied Behavior Analysis

Understood, “PBIS: What You Need to Know