Search form

Behavior bytes

Technology increasingly is used to tackle behavior issues

Technology is changing education dramatically, and it is even helping schools handle the nagging problem of behavior management.

Software can improve communications about students who struggle with behavior, and can continually update records so that everyone interacting with them has information about personal issues, strategies that are working with the student or positive behavior that can be reinforced by others.

“Technology has helped us to streamline the communication and organization of all of our student data, both academics and behaviors,” says Beth Houf, principal at Fulton, MO, Middle School and a National Association of Secondary School Principals Association 2019 Digital Principal of the Year, who has had proven success with a schoolwide system. “Specifically speaking to behavioral data, we utilize a system-wide management system that enables our staff to log both positive things happening with students as well as the negative.”

Houf says it is important to have a single user-friendly platform, develop effective and firm policies and procedures, get buy-in from all segments of the school along with consistent use, and then evaluate the effort and adjust it where needed.

“‘Consistent use’ is a phrase that means we have to constantly monitor and support those using the tools. What gets monitored gets done,’ she says. “Also, technology is the tool to better communication and efficiency – it isn't the magic bullet. Effective use of technology can free us of time to better build relationships and get to the root of the behaviors that we are tracking.”

She says that means schools have to take time to help with any confusion or inconsistencies.

Rhonda Calvo, the assistant principal of Jerome Mack Middle School in Las Vegas, NV, says her school uses Google Classroom for a variety of behavior management functions – particularly for obtaining work material for students who may have been removed from class but retained in school through a policy that avoids suspensions and expulsions and puts student in an environment in the school. Students can easily access the material they need and communicate with teachers.

“Through the Google forms we know our frequent visitors to room for students who have had behavior issues as well as the teachers who send the most students.  This starts conversations and tells administrators who may need classroom management supports.”

She says teachers record their communication with parents online and a staff member in the “behavior room” also records all communication online.  “Our social emotional team as well as the staff member in this room then meet weekly to brainstorm and to discuss specific student needs,” she says. 

School student information systems can be helpful for behavior issues, but too often they aren’t used consistently. Teachers must be trained in their use and encouraged to take time to include key information, according to Nathan Maynard, CEO of BehaviorFlip, a platform for school-wide behavior management,

He says schools use technology to collect data they can use for efforts to increase positive behavior or for restorative practices or for more traditional disciplinary approaches.

Here are the four key ways that technology can help schools manage student behavior:

  1. Collecting data. For a variety of purposes, including formal student 504, IEP or disciplinary plans or informal evaluations of a student’s erratic behavior or improvement in impulse control, data collected in systems that are accessible, easy to use and where teacher use is expected can be valuable. Data can also be used as evidence about an ongoing problem.
  2. Reinforcing policy. Behavior policy becomes part of the technology – based on both the determinations of the administration and feedback from staff.  PBIS programs are boosted by technology that reminds teachers about the expectations and that reports and records student performance. It can be used as a resource to remind staff and teachers of policy.
  3. Enhancing communications. Information about individual students or about school culture or school policy can be easily transmitted. It might be key personal information about a student that could affect their behavior, or a reminder school wide that a policy is in place and should be enforced a certain way. Inconsistency in behavior policy is often its downfall, experts say. Parent communications can also be improved, and they can access information about their student behavior and performance.
  4. Improving school culture. Records of good individual student behavior or improved trends in school behavior outcomes (“There were 10 less tardy students last week, so today we are giving everyone a 10-minute period of free time at the end of the day.”) are easier to identify, track and announce.

Written by Jim Paterson, Education World Contributing Writer

Jim Paterson is a writer, contributing to a variety of national publications, most recently specializing in education. During a break from writing for a period, he was the head of a school counseling department. (

Copyright© 2019 Education World