Positive Behaviour Recording

Positive Timetable Recording (Rowe, 2000) is a simple way of recording frequency and duration of behaviour with the added benefit of providing a solution-focused tool for use in discussion with a child to increase their awareness, responsibility and self-regulation of behaviours.

When behaviour improves, frequency (how often it happens) and duration (how long it lasts) tend to change before there is any noticeable change in intensity (the strength or force of the behaviour). Typically, record keeping in schools focuses on the intensity of the behaviour which can lead a teacher to feel that their efforts are having little effect when they may be influencing change in an effective, but unnoticed way.

I devised Positive Behaviour Recording in response to the need for teachers to have a way of recording behaviour in a way that both provided a record of progress and also had an analytic and  therapeutic purpose. What follows  is a brief description of the approach.


Print off a blank timetable for the child’s week and tell the child that you are going to use highlighter pen to record all ‘problem-free’ times from the teacher’s point of view and that you are going to meet to talk about only the problem free times, not what went wrong.


Positive Timetable for:…………………………Year………

Week Beginning:

Arrival Period 1 Breaktime Period 2 Lunchtime Period 3 Period 4 Leaving

Start recording and share observations with child at first before or after each breaktime, phasing feedback to twice-daily and then daily according to child’s response and level of understanding and responsiveness. Use highlighter to draw a straight line for problem free periods, a dotted line if  things were a bit ‘on and off’ and simply leave the space blank if there were problems during that time.


There are 4 main objectives to keep in mind when giving feedback to the child:

  1. Only talk about the problem free times, first checking that child’s perception was similar or different to that of the teacher ( they may have been upset but not appeared to be a problem, for example) asking them what they perceived helped this time to be problem-free and ask them what they notice about the pattern of highlighted problem-free periods ( maybe lunchtimes, Period 1, Mondays or PE lessons are always problem free);
  2. Help the child to attribute the success of this time to their own actions ( you waited patiently when there were not enough glue sticks) rather than on external factors (the others were being nice to me);
  3. Ask the child what was good for themselves and others about these problem-free times;
  4. Ask what it would take to keep these good times going NB do not set targets or talk about increasing the periods of problem-free time as this can have adverse effects on a child who is struggling with self-regulation.

This can be developed in line with the child’s response and their level of maturity. The approach lends itself to pupil self-assessment and self-recording, sometimes right fro the start. The technique can also be used with groups or whole classes.

Now read: Cycle of Change

Photo Credits  Artiii


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