Classroom behavior is a broad term that encompasses a range of nonacademic school behaviors. Included are the student's conduct within the school setting, response to school rules and routines, interpersonal relationships with teachers and other students, and self-concept and attitude toward school. A classroom behavior problem can interfere with academic performance; likewise, poor academic achievement can influence classroom conduct, precipitating inappropriate social behaviors. The implementation of a Behavior Management Contract is an effective strategy designed to alter behavior. The plan motivates students to take ownership of and reduce socially unacceptable behavior while reinforcing and fostering desired behavior. This rationale will convey how inclusive students and teachers collaborate to improve social skills, decision-making abilities and problem solving skills.
The Behavior Contract is a written formal agreement created by the student and teacher, to change delinquent or disruptive behaviors and "provide a positive way to provide a role for families in improving classroom behavior" Mastropieri and Scruggs (2007). Each individualized contract fits the needs of each student. Using a strategy may be effective for one student, yet considerably less effective with another student or another behavior problem. Educators increase the likelihood of success with all students by understanding the core elements needed to comprise a behavior contract.
A strong Behavior Contract must explain the following objectives:
1. Describe desired behavior and target behavior
2. Describe the use of Positive consequence (reinforcement) for demonstrating desired behavior
3. Consequence for failing to demonstrate desired behavior
4. Student accountability and expectations on how to maintain target behavior
5. Proof of partnership (teacher, student, and parents signatures).
Desired behavior and Target behavior: Crystal
The classroom rules a teacher establishes are dependent on the social context of the school and classroom; and the learning process. Students must be able to evaluate their own performance in relation to the rules. When a student exhibits behavior that contradicts the classroom rules, the first step of correcting problematic behavior is to identify and describe the unacceptable behaviors immediately. According to Mastropieri and Scruggs (2007) teachers often have problems thoroughly describing the behavior they want to extinguish. It is imperative to the success of the behavior contract to identify behaviors in a descriptive, measurable manner. An example of a clearly defined problem behavior is,
The frustrated student (with a learning disability in reading) disrupts instruction by crumpling paper and putting his head on the desk in protest.
Another important detail of the behavior contract is the target behavior. Target behaviors can be any behavior the teacher wants to increase or the behaviors he or she wants to decrease (Cipani,...