Strategy: Using Planned Ignoring

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What we give attention to will increase. The use of Planned Ignoring is a simple, yet extremely effective strategy to decrease minor problem behaviors in the classroom. Planned ignoring is the opposite of providing your attention: it is planning to withhold your attention following a specific behavior. Often, teachers do not realize that when they respond to a student who seeks to gain attention, even via a reprimand, this is still a form of attention. In fact, with some behaviors, providing a reprimand will make it more likely you will see the behavior again.
Effective planned ignoring can help students unlearn problem behaviors that obtain attention and, when paired with positive attention, teaches them more socially appropriate behaviors to interact with peers and adults.
There are five key elements to effective planned ignoring:
1) Only ignore behaviors that students do for attention. If a student is performing a behavior to escape an assignment, ignoring the behavior will not be helpful. Example attention-seeking behaviors include interruptions, making noises, and talking to other students.

2) Planned ignoring is never an appropriate strategy for behavior that is harmful to the student or others (e.g., aggressive behavior, bullying). These behaviors will require the use of a different strategy.

3) Identify specific behaviors to ignore. While there may be many behaviors that you want to change, it is best to focus on one or two at a time.
4) Provide positive attention (see Using Behavior-specific Praise) for appropriate behavior. Remember that you still need to teach students positive classroom behaviors and solely using planned ignoring will not achieve this. As an example, you can ignore Christa if she blurts out in class, but as soon as she raises her hand you can respond with, “Thank you for raising your hand to get my attention!
5) Do not give attention to the behavior. The behavior you ignore will get worse before it goes away. This is because the behavior used to work to get attention, so students will try it again and again and again until they realize it is no longer effective.

How To

How to Use Planned Ignoring

While planning to ignore an undesired behavior is a simple strategy, it can be very hard to implement if you are not used to ignoring behaviors. However, continually practicing not attending to behaviors can have you using this strategy effectively in no time!

Step 1: Identify the student(s) of interest and choose problem behaviors that you will ignore. Decide which problem behaviors you want to focus on and which ones you will not focus on. Think about those behaviors that you feel are most disruptive in the classroom. What do these behaviors look like? Are they different across students? When do they occur? It helps to describe them so you know exactly when to implement your ignoring. Also, think about the reason the student is exhibiting the behavior. Is the student exhibiting the behavior because they are seeking your attention or the attention of others?

Step 2: Practice ignoring the problem behaviors you have identified. This can include turning away, removing eye contact with the student, and continuing instruction when the behaviors occur. Make sure to provide positive attention to the student(s) when they are exhibiting the behaviors that you DO want to see! You can also give attention to other students for exhibiting appropriate behaviors as you are ignoring the problem behavior of another student.

Note on Peer Attention: If the behaviors you are seeing in the classroom are related to getting peer attention (e.g., joking in class, walking around and talking to peers), then consider teaching your students to ignore those behaviors as well. You can teach your class and then prompt them (e.g., “Class, I will be looking for students who are staying on task and not talking with one another. I see Kennedy is working. Christian is not talking to any friends. Great job!”).

Step 3: Make sure to record when the problem behavior occurs, when you ignored the behavior, and if you provided positive attention afterward. Tracking this information will help you to identify your progress regarding the use of the strategy and help problem solve later on.

Step 4: Perform steps 2-3 daily for one week and evaluate your implementation efforts at the end. Did you find that you were consistent with using the strategy each time the student exhibited the problem behavior? Did you remember to provide positive attention/reinforcement for the desired behaviors? Did the student(s) problem behaviors decrease?

Important Note: When using planned ignoring, expect that initially, a student’s problem behavior will dramatically increase (i.e., an extinction burst will occur). This is due to the student “testing” your reaction in an attempt to gain your attention. In other words, the behavior will “get worse before it gets better.” However, don’t be discouraged; if you stick with it, you will see a change!

Strategy Tool

Using Planned Ignoring - Strategy Tool
Use the Using Planned Ignoring strategy tool to help guide your use of the strategy with your students.


Using Planned Ignoring - Reflection
Take a moment to make sure your plan is going to work.

Goal Setting

Using Planned Ignoring - Goal Setting
Use the following form to fill in the week, time of day, and behavior(s) you are ignoring.

References to Other Relevant Resources:

Hall, R. V., & Hall, M. C. (1998). How to use planned ignoring (extinction). Pro Ed.

Gable, R. A., Hester, P. P. , Rock, M. L. , & Hughes, K. (2009). Back to Basics: Rules, Praise, Ignoring, and Reprimands Revisited. Intervention in School and Clinic, 44 (4), 195-205.

Example 2: Teacher Interview

Video Prompts

  • This teacher discusses the struggle between getting through academic work and building relationships.
  • She reflects on how building relationships can actually save time later on.

Reflecting On Video

  • How important is relationship building to you when working with your students?
  • What are some ideas for what you can do in your classroom to build positive relationships with even the students who are hardest to reach?

Example 1: Hug

Video Prompts

  • This teacher greets every student as they come in the door in the morning.
  • Notice how the teacher states each student’s name.
  • Notice that students choose how they want to be greeted by receiving a hug or high five. This allows all the students to feel comfortable with the greeting.

Reflecting On Video

  • What did you like about how this teacher greeted each student as they arrived?
  • How might you go about greeting each student?
  • What do you think the benefits are to greeting students every day?

Greeting Students at the Door

Using Journals to Build Relationships

Identifying Reinforcers for the Classroom

Example 2: Sharing

Video Prompts

  • A student is concerned about a peer using his pencil.
  • Notice how the teacher prompts possible solutions with a focus toward the students “doing their number one job.”
  • Notice how, despite the fact that the boy does not choose to share, the teacher compliments the peer who chose to give the pencil to the boy.
  • Notice how she points out that Sofia (peer) was so kind and was a good friend.
  • Notice how she calmly discusses how the boy in the video could think about sharing in the future.

Reflecting On Video

  • What did you like about how this teacher used coaching to help the students solve the problem?
  • What might you do differently?
  • How do you see yourself using social-emotional coaching in your classroom?

Example 1: Problem Solving

Video Prompts

  • The students in this video are working together on an activity. One student comments that others are cheating.
  • Notice how the teacher recognizes the problem from across the room (see Using Active Supervision).
  • Notice how she prompts the students to find the solution.
  • Notice how she makes sure all the students understand the activity before leaving to help other students.
  • Her use of praise following a student responding helps to get other students on task and makes it more likely that students will respond quickly in the future.

Reflecting On Video

  • What did you like about how this teacher used coaching to help the students solve the problem?
  • What might you do differently?
  • How do you see yourself using social-emotional coaching in your classroom?

Using Social and Emotional Coaching

Example 3: Learner Look

Video Prompts

  • Listen for the behavior-specific praise statement, “I like how Brooke is ready to go with her learner look.”
  • Notice how this teacher provides feedback to the students who are demonstrating they are ready by having a “learner look.”
  • The “learner look” would be taught to the students by the teacher prior to use (see Teaching Behavior Expectations).

Reflecting On Video

  • How can using behavior-specific praise help get students not ready to get on task more quickly?
  • What did you like about how the teacher used behavior-specific praise?
  • How do you think it made that student feel?
  • How might other students respond after hearing the teacher?
  • How might you use this strategy in your classroom?

Example 2: Calling on Student

Video Prompt

  • Watch how this teacher uses behavior-specific praise when calling on a student to answer a question.

Reflecting On Video

  • How does using behavior-specific praise make it clear to students what the expectation is at that time?

Example 1: Whole Class Compliment

Video Prompts

  • In this video, you will see a teacher using several strategies, including providing behavior-specific praise.
  • Notice how she uses both individual and group opportunities to respond (see Increasing Opportunities to Respond).
  • Listen for when the teacher says, “Let’s give Bailey a big hand for doing such a good job,” prompting the whole class to compliment a student.
  • Lastly, notice how she uses behavior-specific praise (“I like the way people are raising their hands.“) to let students know it is important to raise their hands to answer.

Reflecting On Video

  • What did you like about how this teacher used praise in her classroom?
  • How do you think Bailey felt when her class recognized her good work?
  • How might you incorporate some of what you saw in this video into your daily teaching?

Using Behavior-specific Praise

Example 3: Private Comments

Video Prompts

  • Notice how the teacher checks in with each student as they do independent work.
  • She comments on their work, provides feedback as needed, and gives a lot of praise privately to each student.

Reflecting On Video

  • How do you think the students felt as the teacher privately gave each praise or commented on their work?
  • What did you like about the way the teacher used active supervision here?
  • How might you incorporate some of what you saw in this video into your daily teaching?

Example 2: Moving Between Desks

Video Prompts

  • Notice how the teacher moves around the room between the desks, commenting on the work she sees as she goes.
  • Notice how the teacher provides behavior-specific praise (“I see very neat and pretty writing. Good job.“).

Reflecting On Video

  • How do you think the way the teacher moved around the room and commented on the work helped to keep students on task?
  • What did you like about the way the teacher actively supervised the students’ work?
  • What could you do to make it easier for you to move around your classroom and use active supervision?

Example 1: Dot Charts

Video Prompts

  • This video demonstrates a teacher using dot charts during active supervision.
  • Notice how the teacher comments on the student’s work, provides feedback, and then puts a dot on the student’s chart. When the chart is full, the student knows they will earn a reward.

Reflecting On Video

  • How might using dot charts with your students help keep them engaged in their work?
  • What did you like about the way the teacher used active supervision here?
  • How might you incorporate some of what you saw in this video into your daily teaching?

Using Active Supervision

The Good Behavior Game: Rule - No Talking

Video Prompts

  • Notice how the teacher introduces the game to the class and breaks them into groups.
  • The Good Behavior Game helps teach student self-regulation by having them inhibit or not display misbehavior. If misbehavior occurs, the team earns a point.
  • Notice how the teacher explains the rule for that day.
  • The teacher also lets the student know how long the game will occur and what the reward will be for the team with the fewest points.
  • Notice that the teacher allows the students to ask questions before the game begins.
  • Notice that the teacher provides the reward immediately at the end of the game.

Reflecting On Video

  • What did you like about how this teacher used the Good Behavior Game?
  • How might you use the Good Behavior Game in your classroom?

Using Group Contingencies

Voice Level

Video Prompts

  • This teacher has already taught her students to use a number system to monitor the level of sound they should be using during an activity.
  • In this video, as she is passing out an assignment, she provides a precorrection to a make sure the students use the appropriate level of their voice (level 1 no more than level 2).

Reflecting On Video

  • How might giving this prompt prevent students from inadvertently being too loud during the assignment?
  • What did you like about how the teacher helped the students determine what level of sound was appropriate?
  • What activities or times of the day would it be useful to provide your students with a precorrection so that students know what to do before problems occur?

Using Precorrection

Teaching Behavior Expectations

Providing Academic Feedback

Example 4: Show Answers on Chest

Video Prompts

  • This teacher provides an opportunity to respond by letting all students answer the question and show her on their chest.
  • Notice how quickly the students respond, providing the teacher with quick feedback on whether everyone understands.

Reflecting On Video

  • What do you like about this way of having students answer?

Example 3: Yes Knocks

Video Prompts

  • This is an example of a teacher using “yes knocks” for students to respond to an academic question.

Reflecting On Video

  • How might you use this type of opportunity to respond in your classroom?
  • What would you do if students were not responding correctly?

Example 2: White Board

Video Prompts

  • This lesson demonstrates using white boards during math story problems.
  • Notice how the teacher uses a fast pace and lets the students know when they have completed the answer correctly.

Reflecting On Video

  • What did you like about how this teacher provided academic questions and gave students feedback?
  • How did she make fairly complicated math problems fun and interactive?
  • How might you incorporate some of what you saw and liked about how she explained the lesson in your classroom?

Example 1: Individual and Choral Responding

Video Prompts

  • Notice how she moves around the classroom as she asks questions of individual students.
  • She intersperses praise and describes what the students are doing well throughout.
  • She also asks the students to read and respond together.
  • She asks 14 OTRs in just over one minute. Wow!

Reflecting On Video

  • What did you like about how the teacher included so many students and asked so many academic questions?
  • Why do you think the students were so engaged?
  • How might you incorporate some of what you saw and liked about from this video into your classroom practice?

Increasing Opportunities to Respond

Reviewing Writing Assignment

Video Prompts

  • Notice how she asks both individual questions and gets the attention of the room by saying, “I am looking for my active listener.
  • She tells them what book she will be reading, “Seeds to Plants,” when they return from lunch.
  • Notice how she describes what the students will be required to do on the handout. She engages the class by asking questions along the way.

Reflecting On Video

  • What did you like about how the teacher explained the objectives of the handout?
  • How do you think the students in that class are feeling?
  • How might you incorporate some of what you saw and liked about how she explained the lesson in your classroom?

Developing and Using Clear Academic Objectives

Reviewing the Schedule

Video Prompts

  • Notice how this teacher reviews the schedule for the day with the students first thing in the morning.
  • This teacher demonstrates writing in cursive (a skill the class is working on) while going over the schedule.
  • She also provides opportunities to respond (see Increasing Opportunities to Respond) by asking them to read the words as she writes them.

Reflecting On Video

  • What did you like about how the teacher reviewed the schedule for the day?
  • How could this be helpful to students?
  • How might you incorporate a review of the schedule into your mornings?

Posting and Using a Schedule

Coaching Process – Menu of Options

Coaching Process – Providing Feedback

Coaching Process – Introduction and Overview

Observation Practice 4

Observation Practice 3

Observation Practice 2

Observation Practice 1

Verbal with Hand Signal

Video Prompts

  • The students in this video are very excited about the activity. The teacher uses an attention signal that uses both her voice and a hand signal. Notice how quickly the students respond.
  • Notice that the teacher provides behavior-specific praise to the students who respond (see Using Behavior Specific Praise)
  • Her use of praise following a student responding helps to get other students on task and makes it more likely that students will respond quickly in the future.

Reflecting On Video

  • What did you like about how this teacher used this attention signal?
  • How could you use a similar attention signal to help with transitions or giving instruction to your students?


Video Prompts

  • This video shows a teacher using hand claps to gain the attention of the students before a transition.
  • Notice how the students clap back to show they know it is time to transition.
  • After gaining the attention of the students the teacher gives very specific directions so the students can transition smoothly.

Reflecting On Video

  • What did you like about this attention signal?
  • How does using a signal like this help students transition to the next task smoothly?
  • How might you incorporate this or other attention signals into your daily teaching?

Using an Attention Signal

Teaching Classroom Routines

Physical Classroom Structure

Values Card Sort – Example

Card Sort Introduction

Coaching – Interview Guide

Opening the Meeting

Defining and Teaching Classroom Rules

Mrs. James

Miss Faber

Classroom Climate

What is Classroom Climate?

Classroom climate is a term used to give attention to a constellation of factors including teacher-student interactions, teacher tone, student-student interactions, the overall level of respect for one another, and classroom orderliness.
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Having positive, respectful teacher-student relationships is the foundation to effective classroom management.

Why is it important?

Positive classroom climates are ones in which students feel important, supported, respected, and valued. Classroom climates that foster effective teacher-student relationships are associated with increased academic engagement and student satisfaction with school. Climates where students do not feel respected or valued lead to student disengagement in school, resulting in higher levels of disruptive behavior.

Concentration Areas

Use of Noncontingent Attention
Interactions with Students
Level of Disruptive Behavior

Behavior Management

What is Behavior Management?

Behavior management is a term used to give attention to classroom strategies that respond to student behaviors and the extent to which these are done consistently. Effective behavior management is NOT about gaining student compliance. Instead, effective behavior management includes strategies to promote positive classroom behaviors and prevent problems before they occur, while responding to misconduct in a calm and consistent manner.
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Effective behavior management is proactive, placing emphasis on preventing problems rather than waiting to punish behaviors after they occur.

Why is it important?

Effective behavior management practices are linked to improvements in student social behavior and academics. Ineffective behavior management in the classroom can interfere with academic instruction, increase student risk for emotional and behavior problems, and lead to high levels of teacher stress.

Concentration Areas

Behavioral Expectations Clear
Active Supervision
Use of Praise
Use of Reprimands
Positive to Negative Ratio
Used Variety of Reinforcement

■ Instruction Management

What is Instruction Management?

Instructional management is a term used to give attention to teacher preparation of academic lessons and the extent to which academic instruction is rigorous, relevant, and delivered at a pace appropriate to the content. Effective instructional management keeps students engaged in learning and decreases disruptive or off-task student behaviors.
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Brisk pacing during teacher-led instruction has been shown to decrease problem behavior and increase academic achievement.

Why is it important?

There is a direct link between how instruction is delivered in a classroom and the behavior of students. Developmentally appropriate academic opportunities (i.e., those that are not too easy or too difficult) provide students mastery experiences that increase their academic efficacy. Further, when students are engaged in academic instruction, they have higher levels of achievement.

Concentration Areas

Schedule Posted and Followed
Academic Objectives Clear
Student Accuracy
Student Engagement

▴ Classroom Structure

What is Classroom Structure?

Classroom structure is a term used to describe the actual physical layout of a classroom, organization of materials in the classroom, and the extent to which classroom expectations and routines are explicitly defined and taught. Well-structured classrooms are predictable and organized.
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Crowded and cluttered classrooms can set the stage for problem behaviors.

Why is it important?

Well-structured classrooms increase efficiency, leaving more time for instruction and the promotion of positive academic and social behaviors among students. These include increased student attention, friendlier peer interactions, and less disruptive behavior and aggression.
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Well-structured classrooms have established routines that align with classroom rules and expectations.

Concentration Areas

Physical Layout
Classroom Rules
Classroom Routines
Smooth Transitions