Responsive Behaviour Support - Understanding the 10 Components

This posting is an introduction to a series of blog postings that will examine and dig deeper into each of the 10 Key Components of a Responsive Behaviour Support structure.

Over the past several years, we have worked extensively with a number of school districts to build supportive structures to respond to the behavioural needs of students. In our experience, the best place to start is in establishing a Collaborative Response.


The essential elements of collaborative structures and processes, the utilization of data and analysis and the establishment and use of a continuum of supports all contribute to the overall success of supporting student’s behaviour needs. Designing thoughtful and well informed practices across the school is crucial to ensuring a safe and caring environment while providing consistent responses to the individual needs, strengths and experiences of students who may be facing behaviour difficulties.

So, what are the components to effectively support and implement best practices for students?

An effective system-wide or school-wide structure creates positive, supportive teaching and learning for both students and staff. There are ten Key Components to support students who are impacted by social, emotional and behavioural challenges. These components are interrelated and not a step-by-step process. The following components are implemented intentionally and with purpose to ensure a supportive structure within your organization.

1. Responsive Relationships - Involves taking the opportunity to respond readily and understand aspects of others’ life experiences. Developing positive, caring and trusting relationships with students, colleagues and parents is the foundation of all of the key components.

2. Social/Emotional Instruction - Social/Emotional instruction is as important to teach as academic skills. Students who struggle with behaviour challenges often have a difficult time managing their emotions and have trouble interacting and getting along with peers. More often than not, behaviour is a response to the inability to self-regulate or is a manifestation of internal and external factors, emotions, and thoughts.

3. Routines and Classroom Environment - Researchers agree that all children respond and appreciate consistency within the classroom environment. Creating a safe, caring and nurturing learning environment promotes positive behaviour responses and reduces disruption in the daily life of the classroom. Designing and implementing a positive classroom environment is part of establishing Tier 1 of a behavioural continuum of supports.

4. Explicit Behaviour Expectations - Behaviour expectations work to ensure that all staff and students consistently understand the importance of and are committed to the entire student community. They serve as understood guidelines for behaviour and apply to all children and adults across all settings in the school.

5. Responding to Behaviour Concerns - There are a variety of Tier 2 supports for all school staff to consider when the flow of their classroom appears to be disrupted. These supports are typically dealt with by the classroom teacher in conjunction with school-wide behaviour procedures.

6. Responding to Re-occurring Behaviour Concerns - It is concerning when behaviour challenges continue to be a significant concern for students and staff. Responding to challenging behaviour after Tier 1 and Tier 2 supports have been exhausted requires a systematic approach that is understood by staff at all levels of an organization.

7. Intervention Team - There are many levels of collaborative team structures to ensure the needs of all students are being met within a school. Intervention Teams are made of a group of people who are able to provide additional behaviour support and connect them with resources to facilitate success.

8. Collecting and Analyzing Data - Although there are strong universal supports in the classroom for students often, there are some students who need targeted behaviour supports. Effective data collection allows us to pinpoint and respond to these student’s needs and make decisions about interventions and support based on that data.

9. Behaviour Support Plans - Students who are unable to respond to some of the universal strategies used in our schools require intensive support. These interventions and strategies need to be documented in a formal behaviour support plan. This requires that staff are involved in a process to understand the function (or reason why) the student continues to experience challenging behaviour and respond with a strength-based approach.

10. Crisis Management - Crisis management is a central component to a safe and caring school. Schools develop processes and procedures for dealing with existing and potential student and school crises. These processes allow us to respond in a timely manner, develop a proactive plan and direct the student, staff and family to the most appropriate supports available.

Looking forward to sharing Component #1 Responsive Relationships in the next blog!


Author: Barb Pears