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November 7, 2011

CHAMPs: A Proactive, Positive Approach to Behavior Management

Written By: Cheryl Saoud
X CHAMPs - A Positive Approach to Behavior Management

CHAMPs - A Positive Approach to Behavior Management

Haim Ginott, a teacher and child psychologist, pioneered techniques for conversing with kids that are still practiced today.  Haim Ginott is quoted saying, “I’ve come to the frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element in the classroom.  It’s my personal approach that creates the climate.  It’s my daily mood that makes the weather.  As a teacher, I posses a tremendous power to make a child’s life miserable or joyous.  I can be tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration.  I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal.  In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis will be escalated or de-escalated and a child humanized or dehumanized.”   Ginott’s words are a driving force in why I believe a strong proactive and positive approach is essential in managing student behavior, thereby creating the most effective learning environment.  Although there are many different principles and techniques used to manage behavior, I find CHAMPs to be most effective.


CHAMPs is an acronym that reflects the types of expectations used by the teacher to clarify the activity and transitions occurring in class. The acronym stands for Conversation, Help, Activity, Movement, and Participation.  Randy Sprick, co-author of CHAMPs, designed this program to help classroom teachers develop a proactive and positive classroom environment so that learning time can be maximized.

The process of communicating expectations will begin with the start of each workshop and prior to transitioning.  Providing clear expectations for students eliminates the need for students to guess what is expected of them.  As I implement the program, I create anchor t-charts explaining responsible noise and disruptive noise.  After defining expectations, I designate corrective consequences.

Understanding CHAMPs

CONVERSATION:  Students who are concerned about their ability to communicate with others may attempt to compensate by increasing the audible volume of their responses.  To discourage such a practice, I introduce conversation levels with examples of acceptable versus unacceptable levels.  They include:  0- silent, 1-whisper, 2- conversation, 3-presentation, and 4-outside voice.

HELP:  Students who roam the classroom looking for help are often distracted and easily off task.  When they understand how to properly gain the attention of their teacher and get their questions answered, unnecessary movement and interruptions can be avoided.

ACTIVITY:  Prior to the class working on an activity, I provide a snapshot of the objective and what is expected for the end product.  Example:  Read independently for the next twenty minutes.  When you finish a book, log the title and author.

MOVEMENT:  Providing students with permission to get out of their seats during the learning activity, as long as such movement is necessary and orderly, eliminates distractions such as students repeatedly asking for a pencil, water, the bathroom, etc.  Establishing independence and eliminating distraction is a key to orderly movement that is conducive to learning.

PARTICIPATION:   Obtaining effective student participation in the learning process requires an early explanation of the behaviors that are expected of the students during the learning activity.  The more structure a lesson requires, the more specific my explanation to the students should be.  Successful participation is measured by student responses during the learning activity.  Are they to be listening? Discussing? Watching?

Providing a simple system for reinforcing positive behavior and reducing specific misbehavior should follow CHAMPs guidelines.  I use two systems to reinforce positive student behavior.  First, I provide Bucket Fillers for students who make positive decisions, follow expectations, and work toward our classroom goals.  I recommend reading Have You Filled a Bucket Today: A Guide to Daily Happiness in Kids with your class while establishing intrinsic motivation.   Secondly, my behavior management chart provides positive and negative colors.  My school celebrates two students from each class during a flag raising ceremony each month.  My students are chosen for the student of the month celebration by moving through the positive colors on my behavior management chart.

While I’m aware that there are many different systems and theories for obtaining behavioral best practices, I truly believe that CHAMPs positive approach and clear expectations provides my class with the needed management and ability to learn effectively!

For more information about positive behavior management, please visit Randy Sprick’s Safe and Civil Schools at


About the Author

Cheryl Saoud is a second grade teacher from Jacksonville, Florida.  She would like to invite you to visit her blog at for additional teaching resources.


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  • Cheryl
    July 28, 2013

    Great post!

  • Anne
    July 28, 2013

    Thank you for this post! I love your ideas, and have seen these implemented. I would love to use these in my current school age (currently ages 6-12) daycare classroom, but unfortunately my employer does not allow for behavior charts of any kind. My current employer believe they are “belittling and demeaning” to the students and said to be a form of “mental child abuse.” There is no discipline in the school besides redirection and positive reinforcement. I am currently having a hard time with disobedience, defiance and disrespect for others and myself with my class. Does anyone have some suggestions?

  • Teresa Durling
    November 27, 2011

    I am a third grade teacher (for 37 years now), and have been trained in many of the CHAMPS modules. We employ this philosophy school-wide. Our Guidelines for Success (GFS) features expectations using CHAMPS for our Cafeteria, Hallways, Bathrooms, and all common areas. The beauty of this program is that each classroom teacher incorporates Champs into all areas of the curriculum so that things run smoothly for all those little daily tasks and routines. It has to be planned ahead, well thought out, presented to students, and used consistently to work well. Even our specialists incorporate the language and guidelines into their daily routines. This really helps to keep things consistent throughout the school. Even though CHAMPS requires a lot of up front work and planning, it works really well for everyone!

  • Sofia Dirkswager
    November 7, 2011

    I like the CHAMP acronym. I have some students that fit the Help part of that. If I miss any of the other expections (meaning model, movements for understanding, etc in my teaching) I have many students that will look for me when I am working small groups that don’t include them. Then I have those that finish fast and feel they can wonder the room when they have a list of other activities to choose from which I have already set expectations for. This year I have a larger classroom size (students) and it can be difficult to manage them all. I often feel tag teamed because just as I get one situation under control another one begins. Teaching through this with larger class size is hard. The riger in third grade is difficult enought without all the distractions.

  • Brian
    November 7, 2011

    Thanks for sharing about CHAMPS. First time I have heard about it. I am eager to check out the website to learn more!

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