Whole-School Approach to Behavior Management

Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

In this lesson, we will discuss the components of a whole-school approach to behavior management, including developing a positive culture, planning, and communication.

Behavior Management

While most school leaders want to be like Principal Joe Clark in Lean on Me, they sometimes feel more like Principal Richard Vernon from The Breakfast Club. So how do you become more like Principal Clark?

Behavior management is a system for reducing negative behavior and encouraging appropriate conduct. A successful behavior management program is much more than rules and discipline; it also encompasses building a culture of respect, communication, and connectedness. Let's examine some of the elements of a school-wide behavior management system.


Culture describes the way that people within a certain environment relate to each other. A culture is healthy when people collaborate to improve productivity. In a school, a positive culture requires people to feel connected to one another. Students who are engaged in school activities are more likely to choose prosocial behavior. This means that students should develop positive relationships with the faculty and staff in a school. Every student should have at least one person in school who they know cares about them.

A school should maintain high expectations and provide support to make sure that every student gets the assistance they need. A positive school culture maintains a predictable structure and helps students succeed by learning to set and achieve goals, as well as build self-efficacy.


Effective school-wide behavior management systems are born from opportunities for professionals both within and outside the school to collaborate for the benefit of students. Professionals that might contribute to the development of the school plan include administrators, teachers, support staff, parents, social service agencies, and school resource officers. These individuals work together to collect data, create a needs-based plan, and communicate the plan to students, substitutes, and other stakeholders.

Part of a successful whole-school plan depends on how the school responds to individual students' academic, social, and behavioral needs. Individual behavior management for students should include targeting specific negative behaviors, identifying events that trigger the behavior and reasons why the student chooses negative behavior, and developing strategies for both preventing and responding to the behavior. Behavior plans should be reviewed regularly to determine their effectiveness and make adjustments to target new goals.

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