Behavior can be a tricky subject. Often times we are faced with a challenging behavior and think "Wow, this is so random". However, behavior can be analyzed and changed using the ABCs. Special Educators are well familiar with the ABC's of behavior (antecedent, behavior, and consequence). Below is a brief introduction and refresher.
Antecedent: What happens before a behavior that makes the behavior more or less likely to occur. This can happen immediately before the behavior or have a longer lead up.
Behavior: What the student does. This is what you see and it is either a behavior excess or a behavior deficit. So we see too much of something or not enough of something.
Consequence: What happens after the behavior. It can be positive or negative.
When we come out to your school to assist with a student we will often sit and observe for some time and collect ABC data. This is also something that you can do as a teacher to get more information about what a student is doing. Often as teachers we only see the behavior and then react. Our reaction may provide the consequence--removing a student, providing attention, giving extra instructions, etc. However, we often miss what is happening before the behavior. What happens before the behavior gives so much information on how to address the function and thus change the behavior.
There are four functions of behavior that follow the acronym EATS.
E- Escape: the student is avoiding or getting away from something s/he deems unpleasant
A- Attention: the student is getting positive (or negative) attention from peers, teacher, or other personnel
T- Tangible: the student gets access to an object
S- Sensory: the student would do this regardless of if someone what looking or not, think head banging, picking, etc.
The point of doing an ABC analysis is to help determine the function or the behavior (or reason why) and then create a plan that helps the student attain the function in a positive, school-appropriate way.