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How To Use “Plan B” To Improve Student Behavior In Your Classroom

Improve Student Behavior in Your Classroom

How To Use “Plan B” To Improve Student Behavior In Your Classroom

by | Feb 28, 2022 | Behavior, Classroom Management | 0 comments

Having a comprehensive classroom management system sometimes (I would argue always) needs to include an option for when things are just not working. When no matter what you do, you can’t seem to get student behavior in your classroom back on track. 

And before I go any further, I want you to hear this:

  • Every teacher at some time or another has had days(s) where nothing seems to work.
  • You ARE NOT a bad teacher if sometimes you need to just shut it all down before powering back up.  (If it’s good enough for computers, it’s good enough for us!)
  • Having a plan for when things go bad does not mean you are “giving up” or “expecting the worst. In fact, having a plan for when things go wrong is what good teachers do!

At Teaching Untangled, I call this my “Plan B.” A Plan B is a plan for what to do when all the things you normally do aren’t working, and things seem to be getting worse instead of better. 

A “Plan B” to improve student behavior in your classroom should include:

  • A name for your Plan B
  • What triggers the Plan B to start
  • The signal you’ll use to tell students to begin the Plan B activities.
  • What students are expected to do during Plan B time
  • What needs to happen to move out of Plan B back into your regular daily plans. 

A Plan B should not be punitive in nature. It is meant to be a reset, not a time-out!

Here is an example of one of my Plan B plans.

1. A name for my “Plan B.”

The name can be anything that works for your group and your age group.

Here are a few fun names I’ve used;

  1. Power downtime
  2. Cool downtime
  3. Zen Time
  4. Chill out time

2. Triggers that start the “Plan B.”

  1. I am working harder than the students.
  2. None of the systems I have in place are working.
  3. I’ve tried all of the “tricks” that usually work to get things on track.
  4. No learning is taking place

3. The signal that’s used to let the class know we are moving into plan B.

  1. A special ringtone on my phone
  2. A bell used just for chill time
  3. Lights out and power down time begins
  4. A special hand signal

4. What I have set up for students to do during plan B time.

This largely depends on the age and group of students you are working with. In the past, I have always had a folder in each student’s desk with whatever Plan B is called on the front. The important factor for this to work is that it has to be activities that are neutral, or preferred, AND be work that students can complete by themselves with everything they need in their desks.

Some things I have included in the past are:

  • Coloring pages
  • Connect the dots
  • Word finds
  • Crossword puzzles

5. What needs to happen to move out of Plan B.

To move out of Plan B, students need to display behavior that shows they are ready to get to work. This generally includes; a calm body, quiet mouth, and consistently following simple instructions. If things start to escalate as we transition out, then we head back for a time until everyone is ready!


You can love teaching and still have a life. At Teaching Untangled we provide courses & connection for overwhelmed teachers to help you reignite your passion for teaching.

Written by Brandie Rosen

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