Precorrection is a fancy name for something that teachers do on a daily basis: they think about the activity ahead, predict behavioural issues and address them before they occur. Research has shown that precorrections are very effective, particularly in preventing minor behavioural issues (De Pry & Sugai, 2002). Precorrection can be implemented on a whole-of-class basis, with groups or target individuals such as when a class is walking from one room to another. The teacher uses precorrection to remind the class of the rules including staying in line and not touching other students. Specific students with a history of repeat offences are targeted for individual precorrections.
Effective teachers use precorrections at the beginning of most activities.
The technique is a core behavioural support used in the management of challenging students. Chronic off-taskers are often precorrected at the door: ‘Michael, a good day today please, last lesson you were fantastic so let’s keep that going – straight in and onto reading your book’. The teacher might choose 1-2 students to target with regular precorrections (such as twice a lesson). These are the 1-2 most challenging students in the class who exhibit off-task or other issues on a recurring basis. Precorrections will not eradicate undesirable behaviours, but they will reduce them and allow a peaceful window of compliance. During that time, positive prompting and public acknowledgments can be used to encourage more desirable behaviours in the future (e.g. the precorrection may last for 10-20 minutes and then its effect will fade).
Precorrections will not eradicate undesirable behaviours, but they will reduce them and allow a peaceful window of compliance.
Precorrections are proactive behavioural supports that are implemented before behavioural issues even occur. In fact, the teacher doesn’t even wait for signs of an impending issue. Instead, potential problems are predicted based on the teacher’s ‘gut instincts’, knowledge of the class, and the type of activity. Effective teachers use precorrections at the beginning of most activities. Typically, these teachers will remind students of the rules and then check for understanding by asking 1-3 questions. They may even demonstrate the desirable behaviour. Sometimes the rules and expectations are written on the board, so students have a visual cue and a constant reminder directly in front of them.
Hint: Remember the 3 Ps: Praise, Proximity and Precorrection (Lampi et al., 2005).
De Pry, R. L., & Sugai, G. (2002). The Effect of Active Supervision and Precorrection on Minor Behavioral Incidents in a Sixth Grade General Education Classroom. Journal of Behavioral Education, 11(4), 255–267. https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1021162906622
Lampi, A. R., Fenty, N. S., & Beaunae, C. (2005) Making the Three Ps Easier: Praise, Proximity, and Precorrection. Beyond Behavior, 15(1), 8-12.
Adam Green is an advisor to government, a registered teacher, an instructional designer and a #1 best selling author. He is completing a Doctor of Education and was previously head of department for one of the country’s largest SAER (students at educational risk) schools. Adam is managing director of ITAC, an accredited training provider for thousands of teacher aides every year.
Source: Behaviour Management Skills and Strategies for the Modern Classroom: 100+ research-based strategies for both novice and experienced practitioners.
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