Strategy: Using Active Supervision

Check-Up Menu > Using Active Supervision

Actively supervising students during independent and group work is an effective way to promote on-task behavior in the classroom and prevent the occurrence of problem behaviors. It is also a way that you can increase positive contact with the students in your classroom.
Deliberate and active supervision provides opportunities to focus on and reinforce desired behavior while having a planned, measured response to discourage misbehavior.
How Using Active Supervision Connects to CARES
Active supervision provides you with increased points of contact with students and additional opportunities to build authentic relationships. Because you have had other positive interactions with students through active supervision, students are less likely to feel targeted when you have to provide corrections to them. Actively supervising students offers you the opportunity to more frequently “catch them being good” and be able to provide them with authentic behavior-specific praise. Providing active supervision allows for more instructional time and overall positive interactions over time, ultimately supporting the development of a positive classroom climate.
Some key elements of effective active supervision:
1) Move constantly and deliberately around the classroom, providing particular attention to problem areas, activities, or students who are known to have difficulties.
2) Systematically scan the class for visual indicators of on-task behavior as well as behavior issues. Continue scanning even when working with an individual student or group of students.
3) Maintain high rates of positive contact to increase the likelihood of positive behavior while decreasing the incidence of unproductive behavior. As you circulate the classroom, project a helpful and open demeanor as you answer questions, provide assistance, and give friendly precorrections.
4) Provide behavior-specific praise that clearly describes the behavior that you want to see more of (see Using Behavior-specific Praise). For example, “Evan and Alex, you are using a level one voice and have completed half of the project. Great collaboration.” It is good to provide at least three positive comments for every negative or corrective statement you make.
5) Use redirection to guide a student who is off task or misbehaving. Move toward any student who is off task or engaging in misbehavior. Sometimes, adult presence is enough of an intervention. If you need more than proximity to provide redirection, speak in a calm, clear tone to tell the student to stop the behavior while stating the expected behavior. For example, “Aniyah, you are talking and the expectation is that you will work quietly on your math assignment.

How To

How to Use Active Supervision in Your Classroom

  1. First, identify the activities, groupings, and projects your students engage in that are not teacher directed (e.g., cooperative learning groups, peer-assisted learning, independent work).
  2. Next, identify the behaviors students should engage in to be successful during these activities. Determine the voice level, movement, and engagement expectations. These will be the behaviors you target with behavior-specific praise (e.g., “You have worked persistently and are using your time well.“).
  3. Next, identify the signs of typical off-task behavior or misbehavior (e.g., students gesturing, talking, out of seat or out of area) and determine how you will respond to these behaviors (e.g., redirect, verbal reprimand, logical consequence).

Example Videos:

Dot Charts

Video Prompts: 

  • This video demonstrates a teacher using dot charts during active supervision.
  • Notice how the teacher comments on the student’s work, provides feedback, and then puts a dot on the student’s chart. When the chart is full, the student knows they will earn a reward.
  • How might using dot charts with your students help keep them engaged in their work?
  • What did you like about the way the teacher used active supervision here?
  • How might you incorporate some of what you saw in this video into your daily teaching?
Moving Between Desks

Video Prompts: 

  • Notice how the teacher moves around the room between the desks, commenting on the work she sees as she goes.
  • Notice how the teacher provides behavior-specific praise (“I see very neat and pretty writing. Good job.“).
  • How do you think the way the teacher moved around the room and commented on the work helped to keep students on task?
  • What did you like about the way the teacher actively supervised the students’ work?
  • What could you do to make it easier for you to move around your classroom and use active supervision?
Private Comments

Video Prompts: 

  • Notice how the teacher checks in with each student as they do independent work.
  • She comments on their work, provides feedback as needed, and gives a lot of praise privately to each student.
  • How do you think the students felt as the teacher privately gave each praise or commented on their work?
  • What did you like about the way the teacher used active supervision here?
  • How might you incorporate some of what you saw in this video into your daily teaching?

Strategy Tool

Using Active Supervision - Strategy Tool
Use the Dot Charts strategy tool to help you increase your active supervision and reinforcement of expected student behavior.
We’ve provided some dot charts in PDF format for you to download and print for use in your classroom.
Single Page


Using Active Supervision - Reflection
Take a moment to reflect on whether your plan is going to work.

Goal Setting

Using Active Supervision - Goal Setting
Use the following form to set your active supervision goals.

References to Other Relevant Resources:

Reinke, W. M., Herman, K. C., & Sprick, R. (2011). Motivational interviewing for effective classroom management: The classroom check-up. New York, NY: Guilford Press.

Stormont, M., W. M. Reinke, Herman, K. C., & Lembke, E. (2012). Academic and behavior supports for at-risk students: Tier 2 interventions. New York, NY: Guilford Press.

Sprick, R. (2009). CHAMPS: A proactive and positive approach to classroom management. Eugene, OR: Pacific Northwest Publishing.

Sprick, R., Knight, J., Reinke, W., Skyles, T., & Barnes, L. (2010). Coaching classroom management: Strategies and tools for administrators and coaches. Eugene, OR: Pacific Northwest Publishing.


Concentration Areas: Connection to the Curriculum; Authentic Relationships; Reflective Thinking About Cultural, Racial/Ethnic, and Class Differences; Effective Communication; Sensitivity to Students’ Culture

What is CARES?

CARES is an acronym for the five domains that research has found to be successful in engaging students of culturally diverse backgrounds at school. Each letter refers to a significant element of interaction within the classroom. Applying all five domains of CARES works because it promotes a better understanding of students and ourselves by using strategies that deepen those relationships every day.

There is no single element that works independently of the others. All five CARES domains, together with the Positive Behavior Supports & Classroom Climate elements, support one another and need to be applied in the classroom to be successful.

Why is it important?

Research has shown that each of the five CARES domains has a significant impact on students and their behavior when used regularly and over time. Students who are known and understood by their teachers as individuals in the classroom report deeper connections academically and to their school. When teachers understand their own cultural heritage, they better understand the differences between themselves and their students and report higher levels of mutual respect with students. This also helps teachers to recognize the similarities they share with their students as well as recognize ways in which they are different. Students are more connected and engaged in classrooms where teachers welcome exploration; invite, acknowledge, and celebrate cultural differences; make relevant connections to the curriculum; listen attentively to understand how each student is approaching the concepts; and use humor and other effective communication tools.

Positive Behavior Supports & Classroom Climate

Concentration Areas: Smooth Transitions, Pacing of Instruction, Student Engagement, Clear Expectations, Use of Praise, Use of Reprimands, Level of Disruptive Behavior

What is Positive Behavior Supports & Classroom Climate?

Positive Behavior Supports refers to the proactive ways that teachers work with their students, as well as the ways that teachers respond to challenging situations with students. The focus is on recognizing and affirming student strengths rather than punishing them or taking something away from them. A positive approach to the classroom will promote a classroom climate that is welcoming to all students and is a place where students want to engage with the teacher, each other, and the curriculum. All individuals, students and teachers, and the interactions between and amongst all classroom members play a role in the climate.

There is no single element that works independently of the others. All Positive Behavior Supports & Classroom Climate elements, together with the CARES domains, support one another and need to be applied to the classroom to be successful.

Why is it important?

In a classroom climate that is positive and welcoming to all members, the classroom becomes a safe place where culture and diversity can be openly discussed. A supportive climate is one that promotes student engagement and success. Students feel supported and motivated to be an active member of the classroom community. The teacher taking a positive and proactive approach creates a climate of care and respect and promotes desired student behaviors. This classroom is also a place that provides consistency to students, which is especially important for students who may experience stress and uncertainty outside of the school building. Teachers who have positive and proactive classrooms report fewer disruptive behaviors from their students, an increase in student achievement, and better overall perceptions of school climate.

Using Active Supervision

CARES Overview

Greeting Students at the Door

Using Journals to Build Relationships

Identifying Reinforcers for the Classroom

Using Social and Emotional Coaching

Using Behavior-specific Praise

Using Group Contingencies

Using Precorrection

Teaching Behavior Expectations

Providing Academic Feedback

Increasing Opportunities to Respond

Developing and Using Clear Academic Objectives

Posting and Using a Schedule

Coaching Process – Menu of Options

Coaching Process – Providing Feedback

Coaching Process – Introduction and Overview

Observation Practice 4

Observation Practice 3

Observation Practice 2

Observation Practice 1

Using an Attention Signal

Teaching Classroom Routines

Physical Classroom Structure

Values Card Sort – Example

Card Sort Introduction

Coaching – Interview Guide

Opening the Meeting

Defining and Teaching Classroom Rules

Mrs. James

Miss Faber

Double Check Classroom Check-Up Overview