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Easy and Effective

Tier 1 EBIs

Evidence-based interventions (EBIs), when implemented with fidelity, can effectively reduce disruptive behaviors and increase positive behaviors in the classroom.

In addition to being effective, there are plenty EBIs that are extremely easy to use. We want to share a few with you, in case you wanted to try a new strategy tomorrow. Seriously, they are so simple that you really could implement them tomorrow, if you wanted to! Below you will find a description of each strategyimplementation instructions and considerations.

The Good Behavior Game (GBG)

The Mystery Motivator (MM)

Effective Teacher Commands

The Good Behavior Game (GBG)

     GBG is an intervention developed to reduce high frequencies of negative classroom behaviors that can be integrated into daily classroom lessons (Barrish, Saunders, & Wolf, 1969). The intervention advocates for the use of rewards that are already found in the school environment (e.g., eating with a teacher) rather than providing students with tangible rewards. The GBG is implemented as a game between two opposing groups of students during typical academic instruction. The teacher divides the class into two groups and shares a list of “Do Not” rules with students. The teacher provides groups with points when a “Do Not” rule is violated. The team with the lowest number of points earns a reward. 


Type of Strategy: GBG is generally used as a Tier 1 strategy with a whole classroom of students. It can be used as a Tier 2 strategy in smaller groups of identified students, if necessary. 


How to Implement: 

  • Develop a list of “Do Not” rules that the students are not to engage in during the class period in which the GBG is implemented. Explain the rules to the class and provide examples and non-examples of each rule. Students may also role play behavior examples and the class can help determine if each behavior would warrant a point. 

  • Choose a specified time period during the day to implement the GBG. It is helpful to choose a time of day in which students already display high frequencies of negative behaviors.

  • Divide the class into two groups (many teachers choose to divide the class down the middle). Some groups like to choose a name for their group, while other groups may choose the labels “group 1” or “group 2.” Write the team names on the board. Teachers are encouraged to monitor the group dynamics and move students in and out of groups if students try to sabotage the game.

  • Explain the criteria for winning the reward. If both teams are able to keep their points below a pre-determined amount, both teams can earn a reward. Point criteria can be modified as students become more comfortable with the game.

    • The reward should be engaging and powerful for students. Students may give input when initially developing a reward list, but do not allow students to negotiate the reward once the GBG has started. When starting the GBG, the reward should be provided daily in order for students to feel successful. The reward can then be faded to "weekly only" or students can earn a "larger" reward at the end of the week once the students have experienced success with the GBG

  • Provide groups with points when someone in the group engages in “Do Not” rules

  • Keep track of each group’s points on the board and inform the students when a group has earned a point 

  • Reward the team with the least amount of points with the pre-determined reward, as well as verbal praise

  • Continue classroom instruction while implementing the GBG



  • The GBG is designed to be implemented during one class period of the day in which students exhibit a high frequency of negative behaviors. Teachers may choose to expand the GBG to other times of the day once they have achieved success with the intervention, however the GBG should not be played across the entire school day. 

  • The GBG is primarily designed to decrease negative behaviors and does not explicitly teach positive behaviors. Some students may need additional coaching or skills groups to help them develop the social skills necessary to display positive behaviors. 

  • Some students will find earning points for negative behavior to be reinforcing. If a small number of students are earning a significant amount of points and trying to sabatoge the GBG, consider having these students form their own team.

Examples of “Do Not” Rules (positive rules are also listed in parentheses): 

  • Do not use a loud voice (Use a quiet voice)

  • Do not run around the room or sit on desks (Sit in your chair)

  • Do not speak without permission (Raise your hand to speak)


Examples of Powerful Reinforcers: 

  • Free Time

  • Going to recess early

  • Eat lunch with the teacher or other trusted adults


Here are some examples of Rule Posters and Point Charts

The Mystery Motivator (MM)

     MM is a classroom intervention in which students earn rewards for displaying appropriate behaviors. The MM intervention includes two main components: 1) whether the MM is in effect for a certain day and 2) what reward the students will earn. 

Type of Strategy: MM is generally used as a Tier 1 strategy with a whole classroom of students. It can be used as a Tier 2 strategy in smaller groups of identified students, if necessary. 


How to Implement: 

  • Teachers select a class period during the day to implement the intervention. This should generally be one class period of the day (e.g., about 40 minutes of the day) during large group instruction or independent student work time. Teachers should inform students that the MM intervention is occurring during this time.

  • Define 2-4 problem behaviors, as well as positive replacement behaviors (see below), that should be decreased in the classroom. Teachers should explain and describe the behaviors to students. Students can also role play these behaviors to make the expectations more concrete. 

  • Determine a criteria or cut-off for earning the MM. Students only have the chance to win the MM when their points fall below the set cut-off. Teachers are encouraged to tally problem behaviors during a baseline phase before the MM is implemented. Once teachers have baseline data, teachers are then encouraged to select a cut-off that is half the number of behavior occurrences that took place during baseline days (see example below). Teachers then give points when any student displays a problem behavior. 

  • Make a poster or write out replacement behaviors on the board. Replacement behaviors should be framed positively. 

  • Develop a reward envelope. The teacher chooses various MM rewards (e.g., popcorn, free time) for students to earn if they display fewer problem behaviors than the pre-determined cut-off number. Teachers should write each possible reward on separate index cards and put each index card into a manilla envelope. Teachers should draw a question mark on the envelope. 

  • Teachers then create an MM calendar. Teachers should take a weekly or monthly calendar format and start with students having the ability to earn the MM on 60% of days. Teachers should choose these days at random. The teachers write an M on these calendar days and cover all calendar days with post-it notes. As students demonstrate success with the MM, the frequency of opportunities to earn the MM can be faded to 50%, 40%, etc. 

  • Any MM rewards should be accompanied by verbal praise or other forms of non-tangible encouragement (e.g., high fives). Students should also receive praise even if their daily points fall below the cut-off but there is not an MM assigned for that day. 



A teacher wants to implement MM during a 45-minute science lesson. The teacher collects baseline data and determines that the class displays 10 problem behaviors during the class period. When MM starts, the teacher sets the cut-off for earning MM at a 6 or fewer problem behaviors. As students experience success with MM, the teacher can lower the cut-off so that students have to exhibit less problem behaviors to earn the MM. 


Examples of Problem Behaviors (replacement behaviors are also listed in parentheses): 

  • Do not use a loud voice (use a quiet voice)

  • Do not run around the room or sit on desks (Sit in your chair)

  • Do not speak without permission (Raise your hand to speak)




Once students experience success with the intervention, teachers are encouraged to gradually increase the number of points required to earn the MM, as well as the percentage of days that the MM is available for students. Teachers should still praise and celebrate students on days when the MM is not available. 

Effective Teacher Commands

     The delivery of Effective Commands are not only necessary for classroom management, but also for students to adhere to academic and behavioral requirements in the classroom. When students do not respond to teacher commands it is often because the command is either: 

  • Too vauge (e.g., “Be Good” instead of “Walk quietly in the hallway”)

  • Presented as questions. Usually, if students are asked politely to complete a request, they will choose not to (e.g., “Can you raise your hand?” instead of “Please raise your hand.”).

  • Too long or include too much justification. Many students are not able to process commands that are too long, especially at the elementary-level. Some commands may be so long that they sound like a lecture. These types of commands often end up providing unnecessary attention to a student who is already being disruptive. 

Type of Strategy: Effective commands can be implemented at the classroom-level (Tier 1), small group level (Tier 2), or with individual students (Tier 3). Most students who have not responded to traditional Tier 1 interventions will require Effective Commands to remain on-task and preventing them from engaging in negative behaviors. 

How to Implement: Walker and Walker (1991) have recommended research-based strategies increasing effective commands in the classroom. These include:

  • Make commands brief. Students have difficulty remembering and processing lengthy commands. Commands should be delivered one step at a time.

  • Use a neutral tone of voice. Commands should not be presented as threats or in an authoritarian tone of voice as students are likely to engage in power struggles and defiant behaviors in these situations. 

  • Give the student a reasonable amount of time to comply with the direction. Most students should comply with a command within 5-15 seconds. While waiting 5-15 seconds, the teacher should remain quiet and not provide excessive reminders or justifications. 

  • Say the command as a statement rather than a question. Some students may view questions as a chance for them to choose not to engage in the task presented. Teachers should politely state the command (e.g., “Please take out your homework”) in order to obtain compliance and reduce defiant behaviors.

  • State the command positively. 

  • Use eye contact and be in close proximity to the student. It is difficult for students to follow commands if they do not hear or see the teacher. 

Considerations: Praise or provide other forms of positive reinforcement to students immediately after they comply with commands. If the student does not respond or comply within 5-15 seconds, provide one reminder. Provide an immediate consequence if the student does not comply after one reminder. Students should still have to complete the original task at some point and the consequence should not allow them to escape the task completely. 

Examples of Effective Commands: 

  • “Please go inside now” instead of “Are you ready to go inside?”

  • “Put the blocks in the box” instead of “Put the blocks away, get your coat, line up, be quiet”

  • “Walk, please” instead of “Stop running” 

Effective Commands

Note: It may be necessary to tailor, or adapt these interventions to fit your unique classroom context. When seeking to adapt or modify any EBI, we encourage you to follow these steps, while also collecting data on the intervention (e.g., incidents of disruptive behavior, time on/off task) to determine if it is, in fact, resulting in behavior change.


Barrish, H. H., Saunders, M., & Wolf, M. M. (1969). Good behavior game: effects of individual contingencies for group consequences on disruptive behavior in a classroom. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, (2), pp 119-124. 

Kowalewicz, E. A., & Coffee, G. (2014). Mystery motivator: A tier 1 classroom behavioral intervention. School Psychology Quarterly, 29,138-156.

Moore, L.A., Waguespack, A.M., Wickstrom, K.F., Witt, J.C., & Gaydon, G.R. (1994). Mystery Motivator: An effective and time efficient intervention. School Psychology Review, 23,106-117.

Walker, H.M. & Walker, J.E. (1991). Coping with noncompliance in the classroom: A positive approach for teachers. Austin, TX: Pro-Ed, Inc.

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