Simple Behavioral Supports That Help All Students

I find that if I set up routines that give clear expectations and goals for a session that the children are more productive and attentive to what I am teaching.  Students with language learning difficulties are assisted when they know what to expect from your lesson.

I always begin with an attention set. In my individual or small group sessions this is listening rules. I have visuals that the students can refer to while we touch each part of our body to make sure that it is doing the rule. I find that if I see a child that may be having a harder time transitioning or attending to the task I can hand them the card and ask them to read to the group.

I talk to them that I am running from one class to another and that this helps me also to make sure that I am ready for the lesson.

Listening Rules


Sometimes I will do the listening rules with a whole class if I feel that they are in a good place however there are times that I enter a classroom and I can see that the energy in the room makes a different attention set needed as I remind them of the listening rules. These are 5 rules that are from

Classroom Rules


I love these as they get the class up and moving so it can serve as a movement break as well as a review of the rules. It also allows me to quickly see who may be having more difficulty attending to the lesson ( ex.the child that is still in their seat or the child that is chatting with their neighbor).

In my small group or individual session I use Token Towers from Super Duper Publications to silently reinforce the skill that I am working on. This can be the target skill or it could be a behavioral skills such as attending to the task, staying in their seat or responding to their peer. I set the goal of how many tokens they need to get a sticker. For students with significant difficulties this might be 5 tokens while another group it will be 10. You are able to adjust the number of tokens expected from 1 to 30. I do have some groups that will say ” Can we do 30?” which I agree to. Token Towers

For a whole class behavior system I use Chris Biffle’s score board. I usually make this a simple T chart and have a student be the person recording the points. You need to be careful here as I am still the ‘queen’ and will direct if there is a positive or negative point as there are some who take this responsibility very seriously and will be giving negative points to their class.


If the class gets more positive than negative points then I reward them with a GoNoodle. These are great brain breaks. Depending on the class there are times that I will have students put their names on the board at various times either for answering a question or  demonstrating a skill. This keeps the class attending AND answering. The students with the most checks then picks the Gonoodle. There are times that there is a group that have similar scores so that then I am working on social skills as they need to be able to cooperate to make their decision. As I am working on a strict schedule if they take too long to work together then I need to leave. If I feel that the class has really worked hard I ask the teacher to play the Gonoodle while other time because I want to teach the students to work together I leave.There are some great brain breaks which include some relaxation activities as well as ones that get you up and moving.


I have also started to add some breathing exercises into my beginning of sessions. This has worked very well with my students with significant behavioral difficulties as we begin the sessions with some nice relaxation and deep breathing. ” Smell the flower, blow the pinwheel.”

As you can see from the top picture I use two motivational techniques to reinforce a student’s participation. These include a sticker chart that the student puts stickers on and once filled get a prize from the prize basket. There are 30 stickers needed so this is not something that happens on a daily basis. I feel that this is important as you want the student to work for the prize and not have it like the dentist office in which just coming means you are rewarded.


The other thing I use is a goal sheet. I create these individually with the student with them picking out the picture that will go on the top of the goal page. I talk to the students about what their goals on and we determine the next step. I have found this to be phenomenal in having them be active participants in their learning. I often have students coming in saying ” I hope we are going to work on vocabulary!”  so that they can get a sticker on their goal sheet. It also helps me determine if the particular evidenced based strategy I am using is working for the student. If a student has not gotten a new goal in a number of weeks I will examine the data to determine the difficulty. I try to look at each student’s goal with them on at least a bi-weekly basis.



Of course I always have a schedule whether it is with pictures or simply something I write on a whiteboard. This allows the students to know what we are doing and it also serves as an organizational strategy for me.

The last thing I do is an end routine. I often have an exit question that I ask the students. It is related to what we have been working on and serves as another quick check for understanding. If they get the exit question correct they get a sticker. I can individualize the question as I release each child individually.

For my severe and profound students I sing a goodbye song and release each individually after they respond to the greeting.

The sticker chart and the goal sheets are all in a folder and the grade levels are color coded so that the students can put their papers back into their folder and then put them in the color coded file box.

What are some of the organizational and behavioral strategies that you use in your therapy room or classroom?

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11 comments on “Simple Behavioral Supports That Help All Students
  1. Thanks Pat, read! I use the “put your listening ears” cue very often with my youngest client. I am going to use this attention set during the next session!

  2. Read! Thank you for all of the great ideas! It is definitely helpful to see, not only a variety of strategies, but how each works well for different contexts.

  3. The smiley face token tower was very helpful in maintaining my young client’s attention and motivation during the MAVA assessment. Thank you, Pat! Also, I love the creative “smell the flower, blow the pinwheel” idea.

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