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Behavior Management Can Mitigate Risk, Improve the Bottom Line


Teachers work hard at behavior management because they know how impactful it can be on student academic outcomes. But checking disruptive behavior and promoting positive conduct has impacts far beyond the classroom, as some TASB Risk Management Fund members recently learned at a conference session on the “Principles of Student Behavior Management.”

For district administrators looking to proactively mitigate risks that lead to staff injuries, claims, and legal issues, addressing behavior is not only good for instruction but can also improve safety, decrease staff turnover, and positively impact the bottom line.

“Behavior is a key thing in transportation,” said Teri Mapengo, the director of transportation for Prosper ISD, a growing mid-size district north of Dallas. “The school bus is a rolling classroom.”

Mapengo was among those who turned out for the three-day conference in Round Rock that drew hundreds of Fund members from across the state looking for the latest information on more than a dozen trending topics in risk management, from cyber threats and severe weather to behavior management.

Her goal in attending the behavior session was to learn some tips and tools to help her bus drivers cope with certain situations so they can stay focused on the road and keep their passengers safe.

Among the takeaways was the idea that behavior is a skill that needs to be taught and constantly reinforced with consistency across the district. Often times, this skill is only applied to certain campuses, classrooms, or student populations, which significantly reduces the success rate.

“Behavior is at the center of what schools do every day,” said Stacy Morgan, the founder and CEO of Emergent Tree, which helps districts consider more proactive approaches to behavior management. She told attendees about the benefits of implementing an instructional approach, which teaches behavior management skills to students the same way math skills are taught with defined learning outcomes.

“Anyone responding to behavior should be able to ask themselves, ‘What is the learning objective of this consequence?’ If we can’t answer that then we are not being instructional about our response to behavior,” Morgan said.

A proactive and systemic approach to behavior management can positively impact district culture, Morgan said. Here are some key components of an instructional behavior management framework:

  • Teaches behavioral skills through a process of teaching a skill like compromise, giving feedback, and correcting misconceptions
  • Uses a multi-tiered system with behavior skill building at the center along with supporting tools and strategies
  • Defines operationally what expected behavior looks like in different settings across campuses
  • Creates standards of behavior management practice that are proactive and recognizable across the district
  • Trains all levels of district staff on the standard professional practices of behavior management

“We want to design a system that is predictable and reliable,” Morgan said.