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Classroom Management to Teach to Self-Monitoring

Janelle Cox

Imagine a space where you didn’t have to constantly use classroom management to alter student misbehavior. Classroom management is one of the most challenging tasks that teachers have. We spend countless hours of our day reminding students how to act appropriately. But, what if we didn’t have to? If students learned how to follow directions, use their cognitive skills, and focus during their work time, it would make everyone’s job a little bit easier. When students have these skills, they can do their very best learning. The ability to have self-control is fundamental in the success of all students. The power to have self-control when on the playground, working in groups, or even working independently is an essential skill to have. In fact, school psychologists say teaching students to regularly check their own behavior helps them to gain a sense of independence, which can help them build other self-control skills too.  Here we’ll take a look at what self-monitoring is, how it can be effective in your classroom, as well as how to use classroom management to teach students the interactive modeling strategy to self-check their own behavior.

Classroom Management: What is Self-Monitoring Your Own Behavior?

Self-monitoring is a prevention strategy that teachers use to improve students self-management skills. It’s designed to be flexible, so teachers can use it to increase desired behaviors or decrease undesired behaviors. Essentially, it’s teaching students to observe and record whether they’re engaging in appropriate behavior.

Self-monitoring can be used to address a variety of different needs from helping students remain on task to improving motivation.

How is Self-Monitoring Effective?

According to studies, self-monitoring can positively affect behavior and improve academic performance among students. It may also result in students gaining confidence, independence, and learning responsibility. It’s also the most commonly used self-management strategy in the classroom.

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Teaching the Interactive Modeling Strategy

The interactive modeling strategy effectively teaches children any skill or procedure that you want them to learn in a very specific way. Here is how you can use this strategy to teach students to regularly self-monitor their own behavior.

Model How to Self-Check Behavior

First, explain to students that you will modeling how they can self-check their own behavior. Explain that you are doing this because some behaviors are not OK and may interfere with their classmates’ learning or even their own learning.

Then, continue by talking about how a self-check is asking yourself the question, “Am I doing what I am supposed to be doing right now?” Have students closely pay attention as you model.

Model Expected Behavior

For young students to really understand how they can self-check their behavior, you must model what you expect of them. Provide students with examples and non-examples of the target behavior. For example, sit on the floor and pretend you are listening to a lesson. Then, start looking around the classroom and do anything that makes you look distracted. Next, point to your head (like you are thinking) and talk to yourself out loud. You can say something like, “Am I doing what I am supposed to be doing right now?” “No, I am not doing what I am supposed to be doing. I’m very distracted, so I better sit quietly and listen to my teacher.”

Talk About What Students Observed

Once students have seen the behavior that should and should not be occurring, you can start a conversation about what students observed you doing during your demonstration. Prompt students by asking what they noticed you doing and how did you remind yourself to self-check. Remind students that they need to remind themselves throughout the day to notice if they are doing to the right thing, and that thinking can help them get back on track.

Have Students Model Behavior

Choose a few student volunteers to come up and model what a self-check looks like, just as you did. Tell students that they can do whatever they want to for their demonstration, just as long as they are showing the class how they would self-check their own behavior. This is a great way for students to practice what self-monitoring their own behavior would look like.

Next, gather students and discuss what they observed from the student volunteers. Ask students to share what they noticed. Prompt students by asking “Who can tell us what they saw Bobby do when he noticed his behavior was not OK?” or “How did Bobby go from being distracted to getting back on track and doing the right thing?” Remind students that talking to yourself and using the self-check strategy throughout the day will help them gain self-control.

Challenge Students to Self-Monitor

Before your next lesson, challenge students to use the self-monitor strategy. After the lesson, ask if anyone used the strategy and how they did it. Ask for volunteers to show the class what the strategy looks like when they are sitting quietly and talking to themselves. Discuss how students knew how to get themselves back on track, once they noticed they were off track. These examples will help the students who are having a hard time with the strategy.

Teaching students to self-monitor their own behavior will help you from constantly having to deal with disruptive behaviors in the classroom. Eventually, with time and practice, students will be able to manage their own behavior which will dramatically increase appropriate behaviors, and decrease inappropriate behaviors in the classroom.

Do you use self-monitoring in your classroom? Please share your classroom management thoughts on this topic with us in the comment section below, we’d love to hear from you.


Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds Masters of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com, TeachHUB Magazine, and Hey Teach. She was also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com for five years. You can follow her on Twitter @empoweringed, on Facebook at Empowering K12 Educators, or contact her at Janellecox78@yahoo.com.