As an educator, you should expect certain behaviors in your classroom, and sample classroom behavior contracts can help you achieve that goal.
Purpose of Behavior Contracts
Why should you look at sample classroom behavior contracts? There are several answers to that question. While of course, every teacher hopes that her students will be perfectly well behaved, this typically doesn't happen…at least not without a little help. Behavior contracts help students become more accountable for their actions within the classroom, and this is one of the main reasons for choosing to have students sign these contracts. Not only are these contracts important for students, but they also help teachers document their own expectations regarding student behavior and performance in the classroom.
Students must be held accountable for their actions in the school environment and in every other area of their lives. Unfortunately, kids are often quick to pronounce excuses for why they didn't act in an acceptable manner. For example, as a teacher, you may have heard the statement, "I didn't know I was supposed to do that!" or "You always pick on me!" In many cases, statements such as these are made by preteens and teens.
Behavior contracts can eliminate some of this lack of accountability. When a child signs a classroom behavior contract, he is accepting responsibility for his behavior. If he breaks that contract, he already knows the consequences of his behavior. If he tries to argue that he didn't know what was expected of him, you can immediately pull out his behavior contract and show him the evidence of where he was made very aware of what type of behavior is expected in your classroom.
In the same respect, behavior contracts can provide documentation for teachers, and this is extremely helpful in parent/teacher conferences. If a parent takes issue with a particular punishment that her child has received, you can pull out the behavior contract that was signed by the student (and sometimes the parent). Documentation is a teacher's best friend in regards to handling conflicts and resolutions. With this in mind, it is strongly recommended that you not only have your students sign the behavior contracts, but you should also have the parents sign as well.
What options should be included on a classroom behavior agreement/contract? There are many different types of contracts, so you can modify yours to fit the needs of your classroom. Keep in mind that different ages will require different contracts, and your contract should address specific issues and expectations that are applicable for the ages of your students. The following items may be included in the contract you propose:
- Teacher's name
- Student's name
- Student's signature
- Parent's signature
- Dates contract is in effect
- Specific behavior expectations
- Consequences of negative behaviors
- Rewards for positive behaviors
These are just some very generic suggestions of items that can be included on your form. While you might be tempted to spell out individual behaviors on the contract, you can run into problems if you haven't specified a particular behavior on the contract and one or more of your students exhibit that behavior. Instead, consider using a broad statement, such as "The student is expected to follow the teacher's instructions, expectations, rules, etc. each day."
Sample Classroom Behavior Contracts Online
While of course there are several sample classroom behavior contracts on the Internet for you to use, you can also create your own. The following is a list of websites that contain behavior contracts for you to check out. If you aren't sure about the use of a contract in your classroom, contact your administrator. As a safeguard for your own professional benefit, ask your administrator to look at your contract before you give it to your students to take home.