Focus Behaviours

or Values

For Improvement

(Part 2)

Choosing Focus Behaviours/Values For Improvement (Part 2)

OK – now that you have done the hard work and identified what your 3 or 4 behaviours or school values are going to be, it is time to dig deep and really breakdown what your behaviours mean to you as a school and what they are all about.

This is a very important step in the process of improving school culture, as it will create the foundation for all aspects of school learning moving forward.  It can be embedded into School Business planning, can form meaningful discussions amongst staff, students and parents, can be aligned to employment of new staff (in order to ensure a shared vision and set of values) and provides the backbone for teaching students the behavioural skillset you have identified.

Due to this, it is critical to get input from all parties involved including students, all staff (including school officers, Education Assistants, etc), parents and the wider school community.  Below is an outline as how you can go about achieving this:

Step One     Identify what is meant by each Focus Behaviour/Value

We want to get really specific here and identify things students should be doing if they are demonstrating a particular behaviour/value.  These need to be teachable qualities. See the diagram below for an example.



Overview of Respectful skills and behaviours

Some useful activities that can be completed in order to identify these specific skills include:


Give individuals post it notes.  Take one focus behaviour/value at a time and get individuals to write one idea on each post it.  Have a sharing session where individuals share one post it on the board – others can snap their ideas on top if the same.  Continue around group ensuring everyone gets a chance to give an idea.  Tally ideas and collate in order of preference.  As a group then discuss which ideas to use.


Consider the focus behaviour/value and write a looks like/feels like/sounds like chart.  This could be done individually as above or in small groups and then shared.  This can be useful to get students started with discussions around the behaviours.


Use school data to see what skills are needed in order to be …eg Respectful (or whatever your focus behaviour/value is).  Consider the skills that students need to be taught in order to avoid the documented concern on the data/behaviour record.


# Skills brainstormed need to be specific

# Skills need to be teachable & able to be assessed

# Write skills in a way that students, parents & staff can all understand



  • According to Inside & Outside

You could organise the identified skills as inside, outside and both

  • According to General & Specific Locations

You could have General behaviours that apply in all situations and then specific ones for various locations eg. The canteen, library, outside classrooms, playground etc.

  • Other options that suit your setting.

It is important to organise your focus behaviours/values and the specific skills in a way that suits your context and will work for your teachers when implementing (I will talk more about this in an upcoming blog post focused on Teaching the Skills).  Here is an example below:

Overview of behaviours and subskills


By having skills sitting under your 3 or 4 Focus Behaviours/Values you can create an opportunity for a Whole School Focus area with individual year levels focusing on skills specific to their age group or developmental level, or area that they need work on.

Eg. Whole School Focus:  RESPECTFUL

Pre-Primary – Raise your hand if you wish to speak

Year 4 – Look after school equipment

Year 9 – Use kind words and actions towards others

This allows for a powerful opportunity to develop a Positive School Culture.  When you have a Whole School Focus area you can hold events, teach lessons, engage in reflection and share parent information that is suitable for all ages (including brothers and sisters in the same family), while still developing related skills and at an age appropriate level.  This increases the opportunity for buy-in across the school community and allows for differentiation across the classes while maintaining a shared focus area.


In my next blog post I will explore how to get the message out about your new school behaviours and values through effective posters and signage that engages the students, parents and wider community.  This will be a key opportunity to start creating buy-in and will create visibility for your focus areas and consistent language across the school.

If you are interested in finding out more about how to implement Behaviour Improvement in your context, please subscribe to my newsletter (you will receive a free guide to getting started on Behavioural Improvement in Schools and I have some templates and guides to make your life easier when implementing change in your context)  See the box to your right to subscribe and get some free information to get you started now.

If you would prefer to chat to me in person, I am available to come to your school to work on Behavioural Improvement or run a one off session with staff or your Behaviour Team, or you can simply email me to vent about any issues you are currently facing or successes you have achieved. I also have resources available on Teachers Pay Teachers @

If you have any questions about behavioural expectations or any other areas of interest, please send me an email at

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for more detailed information about how we can work together.

As always, please feel free to share my blog post with friends and colleagues and contact me with any questions.

Have a great day! 🙂

Renee Knapp


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