Incredible Years Teacher | Classroom Management Programmes

Incredible Years Teacher Programmes

Teacher training is a crucial component of the Incredible Years® early intervention strategy. Research shows that up to a third of children treated with the Parent Training programme alone will continue to have school and peer problems despite improvements being reported at home. Parent training does not change classroom environment or teacher management skills, both of which are key to reducing children's conduct problems and increasing social competence.

Many teachers report feeling inadequately prepared to manage the escalating number of students with behaviour problems or for knowing how to provide the necessary emotional and social curriculum. Teachers who do not learn effective classroom management techniques may be at risk of establishing a "coercive cycle" within their classroom, whereby children's oppositional and negative behaviour is reinforced by either the teacher's harsh or critical responses or by giving in to their demands. The Incredible Years® Teacher Classroom Management Training Programmes give teachers the skills and strategies they need to effectively manage their classrooms.

Many children spend more time with their teachers or in the classroom than they do with their parents. Teachers therefore play a critical role in ameliorating or exacerbating the challenges children face. A significant body of research highlights the important role that teachers can play in the development of children's social and emotional skills.

The Incredible Years® Teacher Classroom Management Training for Teachers

The IYT series emphasises effective classroom management skills for children ages 4-8 years such as: the effective use of teacher coaching skills, attention, praise and encouragement, use of incentives for difficult behaviour problems, proactive teaching strategies, how to manage inappropriate classroom behaviours with discipline hierarchies, the importance of building positive relationships with students and with parents, and how to teach empathy, social skills and problem-solving in the classroom.

Since 2011, the New Zealand Ministry of Education has funded the Incredible Years Teacher Programme to provide teachers with positive classroom management skills to manage young children's challenging behaviours.

What is the Incredible Years® Teacher programme?

The IYT programme provides teachers with approaches to help turn disruptive behaviour around and create a more positive learning environment for their students. The programme is for teachers of children aged 3–8 years.

The IYT training series is delivered in six monthly full-day workshops to groups of twelve to fifteen teachers of children aged 3-8 years. Trained facilitators lead these collaborative workshops where teachers share their experiences, support one another, problem solve and practice managing disruptive behaviour more effectively. The goal is to create a classroom environment that fosters academic learning as well as emotional literacy and social competence. Group facilitators are trained to conduct teacher workshops that combine the teaching of classroom management strategies grounded in cognitive social learning and developmental theory with methods that motivate and engage teachers in an enjoyable learning process. The programme is teacher goal directed, interactive, and experiential so that teachers practice new strategies through role-plays, acting out both the teacher and student roles. This approach gives teachers an opportunity to experience interactions from the students' point of view, and learn by observing other teachers' strategies.

The IY programme is based on the Teaching Pyramid®, which is broken down into four categories:

  1. Building Positive Relationships
  2. Proactive Teacher
  3. Motivating through Incentives
  4. Decreasing Inappropriate Behaviour and Negative Consequences.

The strategies that should be used most often are at the bottom of the pyramid and act as the foundation of the programme, with strategies that should be used least often at the top of the pyramid.

The programme covers:

  • Workshop 1: Building Positive Relationships with Students
  • Workshop 1b: Preventing Behaviour Problems – The Proactive Teacher
  • Workshop 2: The Importance of Teacher Attention, Coaching and Praise
  • Workshop 3: Motivating Children Through Incentives
  • Workshop 4 & 5: Decreasing Inappropriate Behaviour
  • Workshop 6: Emotional Regulation, Social Skills & Problem Solving

The IYT programme is a prevention programme to strengthen teacher classroom management strategies, and promote children’s prosocial behaviour and school readiness (reading skills). The programme is intended for group leaders who plan to work with groups of teachers to promote these skills. It is divided into 6 full-day workshops, spread out with time in between each workshop so that teachers have time to practise the new skills they are learning. The programme has been shown in control group studies to reduce classroom aggression and non-cooperation, and promote peer interaction, school readiness, and enjoyment with school activities. It focuses on ways teachers can effectively collaborate with and support parents’ school involvement, and promote home-to-school consistency. The IYT programme is useful for teachers, teacher aides, school psychologists, and school counsellors.

Programme content and objectives

Building Positive Relationships with Students

Building strong relationships is one of the most important things that you can do as a teacher. "A nurturing teacher-student relationship built on trust, understanding, and caring will foster students' cooperation and motivation, and promote their learning, social and emotional development, and academic achievement at school" (Carolyn Webster-Stratton, 2012). Building strong relationships with students does not take a lot of time but can make a huge difference. Having a simple two minute conversation with a child each day can do a lot to strengthen a relationship. A great way to foster trust and relationships between teacher and students is to allow the students to participate in child-directed play during break times. Students enjoy being in charge of the play, and the relationship between the students and the teacher is strengthened through shared games and play.

Preventing Behaviour Problems: The Proactive Teacher

It is easy to automatically react with emotion or frustration to a child's negative behaviour, rather than responding to the behaviour in a strategic way. Rather than reacting to problem behaviours when they arise, teachers can anticipate the kinds of classroom conditions that are likely to produce disruptive or disengaged behaviours and take proactive steps to prevent them. Proactively setting clear, concise rules that are easy for children to follow, establishing predictable routines and planning for transitions, giving hyperactive and inattentive students opportunities to move in appropriate ways and giving effective commands and instructions are all ways that teachers can be proactive in their classrooms. Teachers can try using nonverbal signals, select a challenging student to set up a behaviour plan using proactive strategies, practice using proactive strategies such as when-then commands and transition strategies, and make special connections with a student who is "invisible" or a student who is challenging among other techniques to become more proactive. 

The Importance of Teacher Attention, Coaching and Praise

The quality of a teacher's attention is one of the most important in determining whether children become motivated and successful learners. Additionally, teachers who deliver high amounts of praise typically experience lower rates of off-task or disruptive behaviours, leaving more time for academic teaching. Research has shown that teachers give three to fifteen times more attention to student misbehaviour than positive behaviour in their classrooms. Consistent and meaningful encouragement and praise from a teacher can build a child's self-confidence and can contribute to building trusting and supportive relationships. This, in turn, increases students' academic commitment and performance and reduces disruptive behaviour. A host of research indicates that the simple use of contingent behaviour-specific praise and attention to positive student behaviour reinforces and nurtures children's growing emotional, social, and academic competence. 

Motivating Children Through Incentives

When students have difficulty with a particular behaviour or area of learning, teacher attention, coaching, and praise may not be strong enough reinforcers to motivate them. One way of assisting the learning process is to give students concrete evidence of their progress through tangible rewards such as stickers, hand stamps, points, special rewards, or celebrations. Research has indicated a multitude of positive results from using incentive programmes, such as increased classroom participation, on-task work and attention, cooperative behaviours, improving spelling and math accuracy, decreasing transition time, reducing talking out and out of seat behaviour, and decreasing more serious behaviour problems. It is of course important to continue providing social approval, coaching methods and encouragement as well while using incentive programmes to motivate students as the impact is greater when both types of social and tangible rewards are combined. 

Decreasing Inappropriate Behaviour

Some strategies that are commonly used by teachers in an attempt to manage inappropriate behaviour, such as lecturing or yelling, putting a student's name on the board, or sending the child to the principal's office have actually been shown to be ineffective. In fact, criticising, scolding, and shouting only results in students learning to shout, criticise, and argue with both teachers and peers. Some techniques may provide teacher attention that actually reinforces the particular misbehaviour or adds to the students' negative self image. Learning to provide an ethical and respectful approach to discipline is a key part of learning how to decrease inappropriate behaviour in the classroom and to effectively teach children more appropriate behaviours. A discipline hierarchy is taught which emphasises using the least intrusive discipline methods as a first priority, working up to the more intensive strategies for more aggressive and destructive behaviour.

Emotional Regulation, Social Skills & Problem Solving

In order to create a solid foundation for children's learning interactions that will support their school readiness growth, academic success, and social emotional development, teachers must learn techniques to increase children's abilities to express themselves and self-regulate their emotions. Descriptive commenting, a form of commentary where the teacher enters a student's internal and imaginary world, narrates their ideas, thoughts and feelings and interests, helps them feel confident by being an 'appreciative audience' and providing focused attention on their learning process, is a key skill that underpins all of the coaching techniques taught in this workshop. These expanded descriptions of a student's activity promote a student's cognitive awareness of what they are seeing, doing, thinking or feeling, building their self-confidence, and supporting their creativity, independence, and struggle to discover and learn something new. Teachers who use these descriptive coaching methods consistently find that their students come to love this kind of attention, feel more strongly attached to their teachers, persist at the activity despite feeling frustrated and show gains in academic, social, and emotional competency. 

Attending an Incredible Years® Teacher Programme

Contact your nearest Ministry of Education district office if you’re interested in attending an Incredible Years Teacher training programme.

Planning to Implement the Programme

Assessing Local Needs

This questionnaire will help you assess the need for a programme, determine the target population, and plan your implementation. Please note, if your organisation is interested in running an Incredible Years® Teacher Training Programme in New Zealand, please contact your nearest nearest Ministry of Education district office first.

Organisational Requirements

To effectively implement the programmes, organisations or schools must be committed to excellence, evident in good administrative support and provide support for facilitator certification by certified trainers, as well as ongoing technical support and consultant workshops.

Maintaining Fidelity

To ensure your Incredible Years® Teacher Training Programme is implemented with the highest fidelity, the Incredible Years® has proven processes for training and supporting your service delivery. The Incredible Years Inc. offers standardised training and certification for therapists, counsellors, social workers, nurses, teachers and physicians. The training process includes session protocols, detailed leader’s manuals, self study videos, books, coaching, mentoring and in person consultation workshops to ensure your agency or school has the necessary support to deliver the Incredible Years® programmes.

Programme Resources

Each of the programmes consists of DVDs, comprehensive facilitator manuals, books, take-home assignments, and handouts. It is recommended that all group participants have their own individual books and that facilitators have their own manuals. DVD equipment is necessary. Each group should have two group leaders. Group leaders complete a certification /accreditation process that involves attendance at a certified training workshop, peer review, videotape feedback, and consultation.

Attend a Training

Plan ahead and register for your Incredible Years® group leader training workshop early as places are limited. View current trainings and registration information on the Upcoming Events page.

Attending a training is the first step to becoming certified/accredited in the Incredible Years®. The certification process promotes fidelity and provides leaders implementing Incredible Years® programmes with the highest level of support and feedback.

Incredible Years® Teacher Classroom Management Programme Preview