Sometimes, students have difficulty following classroom rules and accepting consequences. These students are often miserable at school and make others miserable in the process. Creating a behavior contract between you and a student can make everyone's life easier and often fixes the behavior problems before they become impossible. It is important that the student participates in creating the terms of the contract. If you impose a contract without the student's involvement, it is much less likely to succeed.

Step 1

Ask the student to meet with you either before or after school. If this is not possible, then pick another time you can meet privately with the student. If you want, you can include parents, a guidance counselor or another teacher. It will depend on the student and your school's policies.

Step 2

Identify the specific problem behavior, such as talking out, bullying others at recess, being disrespectful to adults or never staying in her seat. Write down the problem behavior after you and the student agree on it.

Step 3

Talk with the student about why he thinks this behavior is a problem for him. Is it because he doesn't like math, and this is when he misbehaves? Is it because someone is picking on him at lunch, and so he picks on someone else at recess? Try to get to the "bottom," or the cause, of the problem behavior.

Step 4

Write specific steps on the contract that you want the student to follow. For example, if the problem behavior occurs during math, steps to improve the behavior might be: If Beth feels confused during math, she will ask to get a drink of water instead of shout out silly words and try to make her classmates laugh. When Beth asks for a drink of water, this will be a signal to Mrs. Smith that Beth needs help. Mrs. Smith will help Beth one-on-one when she finishes teaching the lesson.

The steps have to be specific, and the student has to agree with them for the contract to work.

Step 5

Create a rewards and consequences section of the behavior contract. Let the student help create both these sections. For example, if the student expresses interest in helping his physical education teacher, allow him to help the teacher one period a week. Even though he misses your class time, it may be worth it to have his good behavior the rest of the week. Be careful that the consequences are not just punishments. They should help the student improve his self-esteem and attitude, but they should also teach the student not to take the behavior contract lightly. For example, a consequence of not following the stipulations in the contract is that the student does not get to help his phys ed teacher that week.

Step 6

Sign the contract, and have your student sign the contract when you have it worked out. Make a copy for both of you and his parents. Meet with the student periodically to see how you both think the contract is working and whether you need to amend it.


  • Be creative with your rewards. Find out what the student really likes -- a reward doesn't have to cost money. Maybe she would like a free homework pass or the chance to eat lunch with a younger sibling. Sometimes, students' ideas might surprise you.

  • If the contract isn't starting to work after two weeks, meet again with the student to discuss the contract.