So why did I make this move?
I really felt as if I was quick to just call people out and have them go pull their cards. Someone was talking while I was talking… I gave a warning and then they had to pull their card. They had to do the walk of shame over to the wall and their card had to be on my yellow pocket chart for the rest of the day. But did I really give that child a fair chance to explain why they were talking? Simply stated – no. I would have a conversation with them after but the emotional damage and embarrassment were done and that really started killing ME inside. And then to post it on the wall for everyone to see just seemed unfair.
So we started focusing on rules more! I made these great rules to use in my room and we began to make that the focus. Every day we would stand behind our chairs and my handy helper would point while the entire class recited the rules. Every day… we never missed. I started referring to the rules in my instruction… I would say remember the rule and they all would repeat it.
I have posted these rules on my blog a couple of times and I honestly just made them for me so this summer I cleaned them up and made them editable so you can change the words on them if you want. These are the rules that I use for my own specific classroom that I have found to be effective but the file is completely editable so you can change the pictures to say whatever you want! They also come with an emergent reader, graphic organizers, and writing pages that are all editable so you can make them match what you choose to do in your classroom!
Again the above form is part of the freebie of my rules program in the preview option but you can really get rid of your wall clip chart with any rules program you use!
So what exactly did my behavior program look like?
At the end of every day, each child got a card and there were 3 options.
– an orange card – they had a perfect & expected day
– a purple car – I picked a couple of days to get purple
– or a yellow – a rule reminder card (which is the form above)
3 options – that’s it! This came from a conversation I had with my friend Callie at Teach-A-Roo. She is the Clip Chart Queen and has a whole program that will help you be successful at it if you are not willing to take the leap with me. The cards are a part of her program where at the end of every day she gives kids a card – like an award to take home.
At my school, we had a school store and students traded those cards in for money to use in the school store (10 cards good cards (orange) or 5 excellent (purple) cards for $1.) If you don’t have a school store, you could easily trade in 10 for a treasure chest pick. Kids just store their reward cards in a pencil pouch on their desk. Kids then colored their calendar the color of their card for the day.
Next natural question is… did you have consequences? YES, of course! Consequences were always teacher choice which was most of the time 5 minutes lost of recess. Felt crazy at first, but if the goal is AMAZING behavior, why do we post-loss recess and call home on the wall? I shifted my focus towards the positive and the kids knew it was my choice if need be. We did a lot of talking about how consequences would be fair and sometimes I let kids pick the consequences. Those were WAY worse than anything I could come up with. These were always done after I shifted focus in the lesson or after the lesson. (As you become more positive – your kids do too and the need for this is less and less.)
I really began reflecting on what I was doing and where I was putting my focus when those behaviors happened. My goal was to make the need for consequence way less than it had been in previous years!
So what exactly would it look like when I have that situation? Our lessons are filled with many different components. Say little Johny was being disruptive during a story – I would go sit on the other side of my carpet closer to him (students were trained to just move their eyes with me.) I would become more engaging by acting crazy as a character in the story. We would stop and remind ourselves of a rule as a class – never calling out that student but reciting as a full class. Children generally want to please you and so it began to be the tone that I expect you to sit and be respectful!
One trick I used I posted about a few months ago called passing the positive. Here I just took an object and the kids passed it to the person I saw doing something good. So if there was a student with an undesired behavior – I would say oh thanks Johny for sitting quietly, please pass the fish to Amy who is sitting on her bottom. You want to see all of your kids fix themselves to sit on their bottoms super quick… definitely try this strategy! The kid with the fish at the end of the day got a treasure chest pick. This NEVER got old and the kids would be so excited to have a chance to hold the fish each day even if they did not have it last!
Now, what about when a student is being defiant or out of control. We all know that planning and management are KEY in your classroom – whatever works for you works for you! Reflection again – is this part of my lesson too long, is that student not engaged, is the partnering off? Don’t be afraid to change your lesson in midstream – things don’t go as planned all the time and tell kids that so they become empathetic towards you and a part of the experience. This strategy can also be used to divert the other kids attention if there is an issue so you can deal with what you need to without causing any embarrassment.
And that’s ultimately the thing for me… we don’t want children to feel embarrassed for things that are out of their control or call attention to poor choices in front of others. Often times these types of behaviors are a coping mechanism for being uncomfortable for many reasons like not understanding or being afraid. We should never want them to learn anything from that negative or embarrassing experience but learn through the positive experiences. Some will probably argue with me over that statement I am sure but when it’s your own child acting a certain way because factors are not ideal for them to be successful it may be a little different (home life, academic understanding, hunger or whatever it may be,). We want them to learn from the positive, not the negative experiences that happen in our care! And by no means am I saying students don’t make poor choices but I want my modeling to be of positive interactions.
Now – did I have the students who would have outbursts and need to go sit at their seats. Yes – but those students often had bigger issues we needed to address. As a matter of fact, two of those students this last year were eventually placed in self-contained classrooms. The key here to think about is that misbehaviors could be indicators something is off! This is so important especially in the early years as we are often told to wait for testing – there is no magic age a learning difference kicks on so if they have an IEP or not if they are showing indicators of certain issues we should provide those accommodations as a part of our differentiation! To not give kids the benefit of the doubt that something else is going on is so not worth the cost of losing years of interventions and I think that’s where I ultimately am coming from! Can I get an AMEN?!
I know this all sounds crazy and very Mary Poppins to you… but I swear it’s not.
Take the leap. Pull that public statement off the wall! It will all work itself out!