Strategy: Using Precorrection

Check-Up Menu > Using Precorrection

Precorrection is a useful strategy in which you provide a statement that describes the behavior expectation for the upcoming task, often a new activity or transition in which you have noticed that students often struggle to complete without some problem behavior. The essence of precorrection is to proactively correct problems by prompting for appropriate behavior before problem behavior occurs.
Using precorrection, especially in combination with behavior-specific praise, has been shown to decrease disruptive behavior, reduce the need for reprimands, and increase the amount of time for instruction. Precorrection should target settings where students are likely to struggle and demonstrate unproductive behavior. Effective use of precorrection can increase students’ time on task by significantly reducing transition times.
How Using Precorrection Relates to CARES
Predictability and consistency help students feel safe in the classroom. Being fair and consistent in communicating your expectations to students will help them thrive. If you are reminding students of the behaviors you expect of them when transitioning between activities or settings, you are effectively telling them how they can be successful during the transition. You will find that by being consistent, you are providing a solid foundation for students and ultimately, you should increase your time in instruction and decrease the time it takes for various transitions in the classroom.
Some key elements of effective precorrection:
1) Teach the expectation (see Teaching Behavior Expectations) for the activity or transition before using precorrection. This way, students will learn the expected behaviors from the precorrection. Instead, it serves as a reminder.
2) Provide a brief but specific statement of what the students should be doing before the new activity or transition (e.g., “When the bell rings, gather your materials, push your chair in, and stand behind your chair until your group is dismissed.”).
3) Provide behavior-specific praise to students who meet expectations.

How To

How to Use Precorrection in Your Classroom

First, identify the times of day, settings, activities, or transitions in which students struggle to remember what to do.


  • Walking in the hallway
  • Transitioning from seats to rug
  • Fire drills
  • Assemblies
  • Morning or end of day routines

Next, develop a concise statement that explicitly states what the students should do immediately following the precorrection (e.g., “We are about to go to lunch. So, I need each of you to put your books in your desk, stand up and push in your chair, and then walk quietly to line up at the door. Ready? Begin.”).

Finally, provide a lot of behavior-specific praise to students who meet expectations. Determine what percentage of students met the expectation. If less than 85% of the class are able to follow your precorrection, consider taking time to re-teach the expectation (see Teaching Behavior Expectations). If only one or two students continue to struggle, you may want to provide them with individualized and private precorrections to help them be more successful.

It is good to increase the use of precorrection when there are breaks from school (e.g., winter break, many snow days, etc.) or if a substitute has been in your classroom.

Example Video:
Voice Level

Video Prompts: 

  • This teacher has already taught her students to use a number system to monitor the level of sound they should be using during an activity.
  • In this video, as she is passing out an assignment, she provides a precorrection to a make sure the students use the appropriate level of their voice (“Level 1, no more than 2”).
  • How might giving this prompt prevent students from inadvertently being too loud during the assignment?
  • What did you like about how the teacher helped the students determine what level of sound was appropriate?
  • What activities or times of the day would it be useful to provide your students with a precorrection so that students know what to do before problems occur?

Strategy Tool

Using Precorrection - Strategy Tool
Use the Precorrection Planning Form to increase the use of precorrection in your classroom.


Using Precorrection - Reflection
Take a moment to make sure your plan is going to work.

Goal Setting

Using Precorrection - Goal Setting
Use the following goal sheet to come up with a plan for increasing precorrections for all students, specific groups of students, or individual students.

References to Other Relevant Resources:

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

Stormont, M., & Thomas, C. N. (2014). A general educator’s guide for working with students at risk for failure. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

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

Stormont, M., & Reinke, W.M. (2009). The importance of precorrective statements and behavior-specific praise and strategies to increase their use. Beyond Behavior, 18, 26-32.

Stormont, M., Lewis, T. J., Beckner, R., Johnson, N. W. (2008). Implementing systems of positive behavior support systems in early childhood and elementary settings. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.


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 Precorrection

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 Active Supervision

Using Group Contingencies

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