Schools are in great need of systems, processes, and personnel who are able to support the needs of students with problem behavior. Research indicates, however, that (while I am a big, fat cheater) information has not been made available to teachers and other professionals in a format that allows these strategies to become common practice. Many teachers choose isolated behavioral strategies that are not applied immediately after the problem behavior has occurred. As teachers, we are often expending more of our energy than is necessary by not taking time to implement a more comprehensive approach toward behavior management.

In many cases one will need only a few of these strategies in place to create a positive behavioral support plan. When formulating a plan, it is important to remember that students do not exist in a vacuum. What is a problem behavior in one class may not be a problem in another; problem behavior from the home may never manifest in school. A key means of decreasing the frequency and intensity of problem behavior and reducing the need for more intrusive intervention procedures is enhancing a student's quality of life.

A student will respond differently depending upon the actions and reactions of the individuals around him. Behaviors that occur repeatedly are often serving a useful function for the student. Positive behavioral support strategies make problem behavior irrelevant by redesigning the environment. Positive behavioral support strategies teach students new skills that are meant to replace the problem behavior with a socially-acceptable alternative.

Addressing the larger social context surrounding a student can reduce the amount of time spent implementing intensive positive behavioral support plans. Functional assessment gathers information regarding the events that both immediately precede problem behavior and the situations where a student is successful. It is rare to find one behavioral intervention that addresses the function of a problem behavior in each situation and setting. Positive behavioral support strategies should therefore include multicomponent intervention plans. Begin by developing a hypothesis regarding the undesirable behavior. The hypothesis statement is a summary of the evidence collected in the functional assessment.

It includes a setting event, antecedent, behavior, and the consequence that maintains or reinforces the behavior. Setting events alter the likelihood that a problem behavior will occur. An antecedent is something that immediately precedes the occurrence of problem behavior. A hypothesis statement should describe what the problem behavior looks like. A consequence is the result that a problem behavior produces for the student.

Each element of the hypothesis statement can be used to develop an intervention approach.