Managing Classroom Behaviors: Tools to Facilitate Behavior Interventions in the General Education Setting

By — Autism Society
Updated on Oct 25, 2010

“Joey sit down. Joey sit down. JOEY SIT DOWN!” Do you find yourself repeating this instruction or others like it al day long? With the rise of inclusive practices, many general educators find themselves dealing with be havioral issues more frequently (Myers & Holland, 2000). Most often, general education teachers have little to no training in teaching children with special needs (Crozier, 2006). What can be done in the classroom to reduce the teacher ’s time reprimanding student behaviors ?

The purpose of this article is to provide general education teachers with two strategies for managing behaviors in the classroom: token economies and response-cost protocols for individual or classwide systems.


Reinforcement is a consequence that maintains or increases a behavior. As adults, reinforcement is part of our daily interactions. Think about the following questions: Why do you go to work every day? Why do you strive to do your best? As adults, we often work for social rewards, such as administrative praise or approval, all of which are our reinforcers. Students have the same needs for reinforcement to do their jobs in the classroom.

When working with children who exhibit difficult behaviors, it is imperative that reinforcement strategies be utilized. Reinforcement can be used in multiple ways in the general education classroom, including social, tangible and activitybased rewards. Simple reinforcer sampling (see Table 1) can be conducted by the teacher to determine class and individual rewards (Cooper, Heron & Heward, 1987; Alberto & Troutman, 2006). Token economies and response-cost systems are tools for providing reinforcement and are feasible strategies to use with the fast-paced dynamics of a general education classroom.

Table 1: Reinforcer Sampling

Put a check in the column that describes the student(s)’ preference for each item.




Don’t Like

 Social Rewards      
Special helper (e.g., sit in teacher’s chair for the day)      
Tangible Rewards      
Treasure box      
Preferred toy _____      
 Activity-based Rewards      
5 minutes’ free time      
Pizza party      
Extra recess      

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