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Sometimes the simplest barrier to better student behavior we can address is student motivation. With the right incentive, we can improve a wide range of behaviors. If we use that incentive well.

Behavior contracts set us up to use incentives wisely to maximize student motivation to improve their own behavior. And using a contract to explicitly spell out desired student behavior and contingent rewards is a powerful and practical intervention for the busy teacher. Ready-to-go behavior contract templates make the intervention even more practical.

In this article, I’ll lay out the essentials for an effective student behavior contract, provide some how-to guidance, show you my own set of 12 free Limened Behavior Contract Templates, link out to 16 other template options for different student groups (e.g., elementary students, high school students, students with autism), and share a variety of completed behavior contract examples.

fanned display of Limened's fillable PDF behavior contract templates

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  • 12 Behavior Contract Templates
  • Interactive Fillable PDFs
  • Printable Ruled & Unruled Versions

What is a Behavior Contract?

A behavior contract is a positive behavioral intervention that’s simply a written agreement between a student and teacher to work toward a common goal of student success. The contract lays out exactly what appropriate behavior is expected from the student and one or more reward options for engaging the behavior. (In ABA, behavior contracts are called contingency contracting).

Writing a student behavior contract is a collaborative process and meant to be mutually beneficial. So both teacher and student get a say in the agreement. Using a behavior contract for students can be a connecting and supportive process that promotes student self-advocacy and self-determination as well as improved behavior.

How to Write a Behavior Contract

The main behavior contract components to consider are the desired behavior, reward, and monitoring method as well as holding a collaborative meeting with the student to develop the contract together. The goal is to co-create a behavior change contract that actually leads to success.

This is meant to be a positive process focused on fostering student success. You may notice in some behavior contracts on other websites an emphasis mainly on inappropriate behavior and punitive consequences. However behavior contracts are a PBIS strategy that works best when the focus is on reinforcing the appropriate behavior you want to see.

Here are the steps to put behavior contracts into action with your own students:

  1. Identify the specific problem behavior you want to change.
  2. Meet with the student and any others who are involved.
  3. Collaborate with the student to define the behavior you want to see.
  4. Collaborate to identify reward options (and additional consequences, only if needed).
  5. Make a plan to monitor and evaluate how the intervention is going.
  6. Sign the contract together.
  7. Remind the student of the contract regularly, and provide the reward consistently.

Limened’s Behavior Contracts Intervention Guide provides greater detail on these steps as well as videos, tips, and other resources.

Behavior Contract Templates

display of all 12 Limened Behavior Contract Templates in a row

Of course, it’s helpful to have some ready-made templates to streamline the intervention. Most templates can be used with any age level as long as any graphics and the language are age appropriate.

I’ve created 12 templates, which I’ll describe here along with sample behavior contracts, and then below I’ve provided links to 16 more options for different groups of students. You’ll have a range of options, including printable behavior contracts, fillable PDFs, and editable word documents.

Behavior Contract – Main Template

thumbnail of Limened main behavior contract template
thumbnail of Limened behavior contract template with color and backpack
thumbnail of Limened behavior contract template in blue colors

This is the core behavior contract template. It has all the necessary components for an effective contract: goal behavior, reward, and review timeline. There are a few variations for your preferences, including a ruled and unruled version of each PDF. Plus they’re all fillable PDFs.

Sample Behavior Contract for Staying in Seat

In this example behavior contract, the student has difficulty staying in an assigned area. The contract describes the specific goal behavior (being in seat or on the right carpet square) during a specific time period (reading & independent work).

Staying in assigned area is further clarified by describing how the student will ask for permission before leaving.

The student has a goal to reach for the behavior. A data method isn’t described, but she might be on a simple point sheet where she gets rated at the end of reading and independent work times on a 2-point scale of how well she did.

If the student succeeds enough, then she gets preferred seating at the end of the week.

Behavior Contract – Checklist of Common Behaviors

thumbnail of behavior contract template with a checklist of common goal behaviors

This template includes a checklist of common behaviors you may want to address with a contract, including:

  • Staying in my assigned area
  • Following directions
  • Staying on-task
  • Keeping my hands, feet, and objects to myself
  • Being respectful to others
  • Following the voice level
  • Using my words appropriately
  • Working together with my peers

On-task Behavior Contract Example for High School Student

This student easily gets off-task, doing anything else other than work, and so rarely completes or even turns in assignments. Sound familiar? Lots of students struggle with disengagement.

The contract identifies staying on-task (and completing assignments) as the appropriate behavior to improve. A clear definition of what on-task looks like for the student is given, along with how this would be scored on the student’s behavior point sheet.

If the student is on-task enough, he gets to listen to his own tunes while he works sometimes. That’s a behavior contract reward many a high school, and even middle school, student might find motivating.

Behavior Contract – PBIS Expectations

thumbnail of behavior contract template with PBIS expectations checklist

If your school engages in PBIS and has developed schoolwide expectations, it can be very helpful to ground the specific behaviors you want to improve in them. This helps the student make connections to the larger expectations that exist in the entire school. Plus expectations are broader and can apply to more situations then the specific appropriate you target to improve.

This behavior contract template includes three common schoolwide PBIS anchors:

  • Be Respectful
  • Be Responsible
  • Be Safe

Sample PBIS Behavior Contract – Be Safe

Ever have a student who had trouble keeping hands to self? Perhaps a younger student who might push and shove and grab when other kids don’t give what he or she wants.

Or a student who’s not so young who is physically aggressive when things aren’t going his way.

Those are kids with a problem they don’t know how to solve in a healthy way, so they resort to physical action. We can help them learn to solve that problem by teaching how to use your words and to get help.

That’s what this behavior contract example does. It’s tied to the schoolwide PBIS expectation to “Be Safe” and shows what that looks like for this student.

Behavior Contract – Home Connections

thumbnail of behavior contract template with a home support component

Sample Collaborative Behavior Contract for Adults at Home & School

When possible, school-home collaboration between teachers and caregivers can have powerful benefits for students.

This student struggles with behaving appropriately when he’s angry. Sometimes kids can feel like emotional tornadoes—they have intense emotions but lack skills to manage them leading to chaos in the classroom.

The contract identifies requesting a break and using coping strategies as key behavioral skills for the student to be successful.

Several team members are working together here:

thumbnail of Collaborative Behavior Contract for Adults at Home & School
  • The counselor – helping practice these goal behaviors
  • The teacher – providing the break passes and granting the breaks
  • Mr. B. – taking the student on walks if he’s available during a requested break
  • Parents – prompting their son to use the strategies at home and using themselves too; and also positively reinforcing their son’s success

The remaining 16 templates provide some additional options from external websites that focus in on specific groups of students: kindergarten & elementary students, students with disabilities, and secondary students.

Behavior contract templates for elementary students

Kindergarten Behavior Contracts

thumbnail of Kindergarten Behavior Contract in English and Spanish
Kindergarten Behavior Contract in English and Spanish
thumbnail of Daily Behavior Contract for Kindergarten and Elementary - Editable Google Doc
Daily Behavior Contract for Kindergarten and Elementary – Editable (need to define behavior)

These two behavior contract templates for kindergarten students include some different benefits. The first template gives a very detailed, helpful description of what it looks like to follow expectations in the kindergarten classroom. It’s a contract for overall behavior expectations, rather than a specific problem, and it lays out both rewards and consequences. And it includes a Spanish version.

The second template is really more of a behavior tracking chart, but it has some features I think are very helpful. It includes a visual schedule for the day, a spot to rate behavior with smileys after each time period, and a rewards system. The main thing missing is a place to describe the goal behavior (and a spot for signatures). Fortunately, the creator has provided an editable Google Doc version, so you can easily add these things to make a complete contract.

Elementary Behavior Contracts

thumbnail of Behavior Contract Template for Elementary Students with Behavior Checklist
Behavior Contract Template with Behavior Checklist for Elementary Children & Their Caregivers
thumbnail of Open-ended Behavior Contract Template for Elementary
Open-ended Behavior Contract Template for Elementary
thumbnail of Elementary Behavior Contract with Behavior Tracking - Editable Word Document
Elementary Behavior Contract with Behavior Tracking – Editable Word Document

Here are three template options for elementary students. The first template is one that could be sent home with parents and caregivers who are looking for strategies to use at home; it includes a checklist of common behaviors to address, which they may find helpful. The second template has all the basics for a behavior contract.

Monitoring the student’s behavior over time is very important for effective intervention. Rather than relying on a separate behavior data collection method, the third template includes a built-in progress monitoring table.

First-Then Boards for Students with Autism & Other Disabilities

A First-Then Board is a form of visual support for students with autism and other disabilities (and it can be beneficial for younger students too!). It can be used as a visual form of a behavior contract that shows a less desirable task or activity the student must complete first before getting to do something more motivating or reinforcing.

It turns out you can get a great impact from making things students often choose to do in their free time contingent upon first completing something they usually don’t want to do. (That’s called the Premack principle.)

thumbnail of Ocali First-Then Board Template and Examples
Ocali First-Then Board Template and Examples
thumbnail of First-Then Board Template & Icons from Vanderbilt University's Family Behavior Support App
First-Then Board Template & Icons from Vanderbilt University’s Family Behavior Support App
thumbnail of First-Then Board Template with Icons in the Visual Supports Brief from the National Center for Pyramid Model Innovations
First-Then Board Template with Icons in the Visual Supports Brief from the National Center for Pyramid Model Innovations
thumbnail of Autism Little Learners Visual Supports for Home

Autism Little Learners Visual Supports for Home

These four templates include a range of first-then boards, icons, examples, and resources for implementing visual supports.

Behavior contract templates for middle school and high school students

Using behavior contracts for teenagers includes the same primary components and steps as for other ages. However, you may find certain presentations or wording to feel more age-appropriate or just a better fit for your particular students.

screenshot of ci3t professional learning page
Ci3T Intervention Library
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One-party Contract Template
thumbnail of two-party parallel contract template
Two-party Parallel Contract Template
thumbnail of two-party quid pro quo contract template
Two-party Quid Pro Quo Template
thumbnail of editable middle school behavior contract template
Editable Behavior Contract Template for Middle School
thumbnail of Middle School Behavior Contract Template with Behavior Checklist

Middle School Behavior Contract Template with Behavior Checklist
thumbnail of Middle and High School Behavior Contract Template - Fillable PDF
Middle and High School Behavior Contract Template – Fillable PDF
thumbnail of Behavior Contract Template for Middle/High Students - Editable Word Document
Behavior Contract Template for Middle/High Students – Editable Word Document

These behavior contract templates include an array of options for middle school and high school students. Some are fillable PDFs and others editable Word documents. There are some different features available, such as checklists of common behaviors you may want to focus on, a progress monitoring chart, and different contract variants (e.g., a parallel contract where both adult and student agree to make a behavior change).

Conclusion

If you’ve made it this far, hopefully you’ve found several useful templates and ideas to help your students be successful. You can take an even deeper dive into behavior contracts if you want to learn more.

As you work on improving student motivation with contracts, you may hit some barriers along the way that I hope to help with. For example, you may need strategies for when a student just seems stuck in non-compliance or options for a more natural reinforcer that helps most kids. Or you just may want to explore all we have about student behavior, which is always growing.

fanned display of Limened's fillable PDF behavior contract templates

Get our 12 Fillable PDF Templates
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  • 12 Behavior Contract Templates
  • Interactive Fillable PDFs
  • Printable Ruled & Unruled Versions

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