If you have ever tried to change your behavior, you know it is not easy. This is especially true if you have several behaviors on which to work. Our school is now at the six-week mark, which is a good time to make some initial behavior assessments and set goals. Consider meeting individually with each student in your class and having him or her target one behavioral goal on which to focus. You can frame the discussion in terms of strengths and opportunities. I tell the students, “We all have gifts. We all have challenges.” Behavioral goals can be individualized. Some might work on “getting attention appropriately”, while others focus on “keeping hands, feet and objects to self”. Even students with the strongest of skills (the behaviorally gifted) can find room for improvement in some area.

With younger students, write a note home letting parents know the goal on which their child is working. Older students can write the letter themselves. As an academic bonus, students can write a journal entry each Friday about their progress toward the goal, periodically, writing an updated letter to their parents. When report card time rolls around, have a short individual conference with each of your students, and together determine their behavioral “grades”. Behavior occurs in a relationship and this is a great way to build positive relations with your students, while also helping them focus on continual growth and improvement with regard to their social-emotional development.