Responsive Behaviour Supports: Routines and Classroom Environment

Routines and Classroom Environment

“The importance of doing as much as possible to create environmental conditions conducive to learning cannot be stressed enough, as students must be physically comfortable before their attention is voluntarily given to learning.” (Levin et al., 2009, p. 140)

Creating positive routines and examining the classroom environment is the third of the 10 Key Components to Responsive Behaviour Support.

Foundational to classroom supports, the Continuum of Behaviour Supports includes routines and classroom environment at the Tier 1 level. These supports are instrumental for the classroom teacher to respond proactively, in an effort to minimize classroom behaviours and maximize effective teaching and student engagement.


Establishing positive classroom routines for daily tasks and activities is one of the most significant ways to create a safe, caring and nurturing learning environment that promotes responsive behaviour supports and reduces disruption in the classroom. Children depend upon routines that are predictable and consistent throughout their school day. Skilled teachers depend upon routines to help maintain structure, stay organized and have a well managed classroom.

Choosing the right routines for your classroom is an individual, thoughtful decision since some routines can inadvertently set up students to engage in misbehaviour. For example, if we instruct a student to line up to go outside without first teaching what that looks like, we may set ourselves up, unknowingly, for noncompliance and conflict. Teaching and reinforcing routines allow for consistency and predictability in the student’s learning environment and decreases the need for constant teacher assistance.

Routines should be taught and reinforced during the first weeks of school and role modeled and reinforced explicitly by staff throughout the school year. While more work at the beginning of the year, the end result will be an environment that promotes independence and personal safety.

Here is a simple template to assist you in considering a variety of spaces and places that may require structure and routine and consider how you would explicitly teach those routines to students.

Classroom Environment

The goal of setting up an effective classroom environment is to ensure space for ALL students that stimulates learning, builds a safe and caring classroom community and feels comfortable. The physical environment is a critical component for students in promoting positive behaviours. Make the most of setting up your classroom environment by carefully considering your teaching needs as well as the needs of your students.

Consider factors that may positively influence students’ behaviour and will help teachers create the best possible learning environment for students and is a critical universal support. Please check out this link for a checklist for considerations when setting up your classroom environment.

Throughout the school year, it is important to take inventory or reflect upon your routines and classroom environment and how they impact student learning and their comfort level in the classroom. If students are having a difficult time and displaying challenging behaviours, it may be a clue that we need to examine our practice and look for areas for improvement.

Use this Teacher Reflection document to gather data, determine key issues and create a new plan for moving forward.


Levin, J. , Nolan, J., Kerr, J., Elliot, A. (2009). Principles of classroom management. Pearson Education.

Supporting Positive Behaviour in Alberta Schools: An Intensive Individualized Approach. Retrieved from:

Author: Barb Pears