Sunday, July 1, 2012

Classroom Management

If you're like me, you have used a TON of different methods for classroom management. Part of it depends on your teaching style, part of it on the type of class you have, part of it on what the administrators want!! I feel like my classroom management tools have run the gamut!!!
Let's see, to recap a few, I've had....
TURN YOUR CARD-- this came in various forms...depending on my classroom theme for the year. The idea was everyone started out on 'green' and upon commiting an infraction, were 'warned' and turned their card to yellow, then after pushing the limit, went to 'red'. ( DISCLAIMER:Now, let me say up front, I am NOT knocking anyone's classroom teachers we do what we have to sometimes to survive. I am only speaking of how it related to MY style and MY classroom!) I found this only worked with those kiddos who wanted to please me.....once a kid turned their card, they felt they had nothing to lose!! I tried the "you can earn your way back to green", but honestly, it just didn't work for me or my class.

POSITIVE BEHAVIOR--a few years ago, our principal at the time bought into this whole heartedly. There were committees formed, school wide rules written up, inservices given. And you-know-who was roped into being on that committee...more like 'voluntold'. Now, let me say it wasn't ALL bad....there were some positive changes to come out of it for our school. But I in NO way think that only rewarding positive behavior and ignoring the negative gets results you want. There are kids (we all have them) that thrive on negative attention. They seek it out.....they shun anything postive!!! If you pick this kid out to use as a 'good example' " I LOVE the way Phillip Johnny Bob is lining up!!" then little Phillip Johnny Bob is going to make SURE while he has everyone's attention he does something to show you JUST how in control he really is and bring on the negative.If you ignore the negative, it will escalate until it gets worse and you are unable to ignore it and THERE goes the postive aspect of this model!!! Right down the drain! At one time, we were in such an 'extreme' version of this method at our school, there were NO consequences.
It was a nightmare. Honestly!
Now, I will say there are some people who take a negative approach to everything....I'm speaking  of adults here. They find a kid in their class that gets on their nerves, and they have NOTHING positive to say about that kid! As a teacher, that breaks my heart.
NONE of us know what that kid is going through. I have had children act out only to find out later (usually through accident) that CPS was involved in the home, or this child's family had just become homeless, or this little baby had been through something HORRIFIC!!! The first time that happened to me, it totally changed my perspective. I was their safety. I was the only person and school was the only place they felt they had ANY control over their environment and what was happening to them, so OF COURSE they are going to use that control!!! To this day, I cringe when I hear another teacher talk about a kid in a negative fashion....makes me want to ask them " WHY are you still teaching?"
Anyway, all that to say that while I feel the positive behavior model had its good points, I found plenty that DIDN'T work with it!!!

 Love and Logic- When I first got wind of this YEARS ago, I thought Jim Fay was a genius. THEN I had a student (we'll call him Satan Steve) that would have sent Jim Fay himself crying and screaming from the room!!!  There were small aspects of love and logic I agree with.....natural consequences....yes! Holding kids accountable....yes! But I have to admit that the 'let them sweat it out by not telling them the consequence right away' was an EPIC FAILURE with Steve. He didn't care. He didn't care if you told him his consequence 5 seconds or 5 months from now....he wasn't a worrier and he was gonna make darn sure you knew it! There wasn't a consequence he cared about. His homelife was horrible. His school life was horrible....seriously, what could you do to this kid? Practice.....nope. He was dig his heels in and show you who was in control. Steve put me on the verge of retirement VERY early in my career. Love and logic had met its match that year. Another one bites the dust!!

ADVERTISED ACCOUNTABILITY- we all do put up some cute little bulletin board....goes great with your theme, you are so proud of it. You introduce it the first week and put it into use....and from that day on, anytime a kid messes up and turns a card, or a color. or drops a pin, or whathave you, it's up there for ALL the world to see. Other kids and teacher and administrators that walk in your room can tell you just who is having a bad day.....( and on occasion which of your little toots is absent because its 10:00 and his card is still on green!!) I know the arguments with this...its a visual reminder. Its up there to give the kid something to focus know how their day went. Really....let's think about this for a second!!
Little PJB (that's Phillip Johnny Bob...not Peanut Butter and Jelly) had a ROTTEN morning at home. Mom overslept, he left his backpack in dad's car, mom forgot to go to the grocery store and he had no breakfast, arrived at school too late for breakfast and when he asked the cafeteria manager screamed at him. Comes to your class, you've already started the lesson, his hair is a hot mess, his clothes are dishsheveled, he feels like everyone is looking at him and laughing on the inside, so he acts out. You warn him.
He does it again because NOW he has your attention and this is the only thing in his world this morning he has ANY control over. Card turned, pin dropped, name up, clothespin moved...whatever.
He's ready to unleash all his frustration out on you. Heck, mom can't get out of bed on time, go to the grocery store, make sure his clothes are you think she cares that he was talking over you??
Nope. And honestly, this kid has been in Rottenville since the minute he woke himself up this morning. Do you REALLY think he needs a visual reminder of how rotten his day has been?? Nope.
BUT little Paula Perfect gets to go home and contribute to the dinnertable conversation by giving mom and dad a run-down on who was on RED and who was on YELLOW and how they are ALWAYS in trouble.....and Mrs. Perfect will happen to let you know she doesn't want Paula in a class again next year with PJB because he's been labeled a 'bad kid' based on their dinnertable conversations and they don't want Paula having to put up with that! PUHLEEZE!!!

I'm guilty as anyone! I've had the bulletin boards....the names on the board...the clothespins! I've displayed it for ALL the world to see and KNOW who my "bad kids" were.
Now don't get me need accountability. Parents need communication. Even the ones who will never look at it and don't care what little PJB does at school because at least THEY aren't having to deal with him! And sometimes, you need that documentation, so you can spot patterns, get them help or services when needed, find something that works.....

THAT is why when I saw this I thought these people were ROCK STARS!!! I found it on pinterest.
I read their blog. It made sense!!! WHY hadn't I thought of this???
This year, my classroom management is totally inspired by Katie and Steve at Two Can Do It !!!
They use something called "The LOOK BOOK and REMINDER BINDER".
It has everything I want. It has accountabiliy....Reminder binder has consequences for negative behavior.
It has praise....Look Book has rewards for positive behavior.
It has have a page to show daily where each child was!
It has communication.....when a child signs the Look book, (or the Reminder Binder) they have a sticker to put in their communication journal to show that!
It's PRIVATE. YEP....THATS the part that got me!!!
When you have a conference with Mrs. Perfect, you can simply CLOSE the binder so when she comes in your room she has NO idea that little PJB has had a HORRIBLE day and had 2 consequences, but then pulled it together and got one REWARD. She doesn't know this because its not a bulletin board or poster or wall for her to see and little Paula has forgotten who had to sign the reminder binder because she was so focused on her learning she didn't keep track and its not up there for all the world to see!!
Genius, huh?
Here are my templates. Quite simple, really! I will  insert kids names into the template when I get my new class list and run them front/back and put them in a 3 ring binder. At the end of the day, I turn the page and there is tomorrow's template.!! I date it at the top so I have behavior documentation each day. If I need to conference with a parent, this is great documentation , especially if my concern is behaviors!!!
I also ran a template of stickers that say " I signed the LookBook! Ask me about my great choices!" or " I had to sign the Reminder Binder. Let's talk about what I can do differently."(sorry, I didn't load them here...they aren't cooperating...maybe in another post)
Now, in my class, a kid can do BOTH. If they pull it together, they can actually start earning rewards. I'm going to make is so the first 'look book' can null their level of 'Reminder Binder" and put them on the road to positive!!! We'll see how this works. I also may change up the rewards/consquences.....those are adjustments you make when you see the mix of your class, but this gives you an idea!!!

Now, I have to say that I may 'tweak' this after I'm done reading a book (I was TOTALLY inspired by Heather at Heather's Heart....thank you!) to read "Conscious Discipline"....I'm on the 2nd chapter, but I am REALLY trying to absorb this because it is making sense and it is absolutely going to change some of MY behaviors...but I think this system (Look book/Reminder Binder) will work with that!!!
So, what do YOU do for classroom management? Are you trying something new this year?


  1. This is my first year in second grade coming from upper grade levels and I am having difficulty keeping these early second graders (basically first graders) focused and engaged in the lessons and transition time. I am using the Daily 5 and I know this is program should help shape behaviors but with only 8 days into the year I feel I am running out of patience. Today I rearranged desks, put my behavior stop light up, and told them upcoming consequeses but I don't want to punish my students who are doing exactly what they are supposed to do. I like the idea of the look book and reminder binder. Should I negate my old methods and give these a try?

  2. Every year the struggle is to find what fits with your class. No two years will ever be the same. It doesn't matter if you're a seasoned teacher or a rookie.
    Rearranging desks sometimes helps, and sometimes makes it worse. Setting high expectations is a must. Every child CAN behave....the trick is you getting them to buy into it.
    It's early in the year, and we are all still learning our students. But if you find what motivates them, you can use that to "bribe" them into behaving. One year, it was music for my kids....I called them my Glee class...and I rewarded them 10 minutes at the end of the day with a video and/or sing along. (School appropriate of course)...that is the year I officially grew to hate Justin Bieber.
    Consider two things....Daily 5 is not a behavior program...its a Reading program. They do encourage practice and buildup...which I rewarded if successful and scheduled practice of proper behaviors at a most inconvenient (for the kids ) time like recess....that pretty much guaranteed they wouldnt want to practice.
    Do what you feel works for your class...but a few bits of advice:
    *Communicate , no OVER Communicate with parents. Start off with purely positive contact...even if you have to make a call to compliment them on their child's leadership ability (and leave out the part of them leading everyone astray). This builds up a bond with parents that will make your year a lot smoother.
    .*Never promise something you won't it reward or consequence. Kids are worse than elephants with that memory thing.
    *When you decide on a strategy, stick to it wholeheartedly for at least 6 weeks. Give it time to work.
    I hope this helps.

  3. How do you do the books logistically? Do you have each student come to you individually each day and talk it over? Do they choose their reward/consequence or you choose it? Do you have them sign in the corresponding box? Trying to picture how this works...

  4. Do you have the templates for purchase...downloadable and editable? Am really interested in how you did the stickers. Also, how you used the books logistically in your class. You send them at a certain time to sign, or immed when the behavior is observed?

  5. Thank-you for spending the time creating your blog. I hope you don't mind me sharing this, but the font you're using is extremely hard to read. I wasn't able to get through the whole thing. I hope that you may be able to find a more readable font.