Timer Surprise

timer surprise


Timer Surprise is a behavior intervention that works because of the element of “surprise”.  There are two different ways this intervention can be implemented–whole group or with individual students.

To implement with the WHOLE CLASS,  the teacher will utilize the rules and expectations already posted in the class.   First, students should be very aware of the rules and know exactly the behaviors that are needed.  The teacher then uses a standard egg timer and arbitrarily sets the timer, so no one knows when it will go off (you can also use the timer on the Promethean board if you have one.)    When the timer goes off, the teacher looks around the room to see if the students are following the class rules. All rules can be used or only one rule may be designated for each interval.  If the class is following the rule, then some type of  reinforcement is given, such as a check, link in class chain, or other class-wide reinforcement system.   The teacher then resets the timer without looking at the amount of time and follows the same procedure.  This procedure takes very little time and is effective because it is intermittent and random.

To use with INDIVIDUAL STUDENTS, the teacher may want to use a “Timer Surprise” monitoring sheet such as the one below that student’s can use to track their behavior.



Individual behaviors are identified such as staying in seat or completing work.  When the timer goes off, the student refers to the monitoring sheet and circles either “yes” or “no” depending on if he/she is exhibiting the behavior.  One of the powerful attributes of this technique is the student is completing the sheet and not the teacher, which makes the student reflect and monitor their own behavior.

At the beginning of the day, the teacher and student should decide on a goal number of yes responses that need to be circled.  At the end of the day, the number is added up.


If the student meets the goal, then the teacher could use a REWARD MENU to further reinforce the positive behavior.

You can get a FREE copy of a Timer Surprise monitoring sheet by clicking the below link!

Timer Surprise cover

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