Classroom management system wearing off? Mine was!
How many of you had a brilliant classroom management system that was working wonders at the beginning of the year? Did it seem like you were working with a different class once December hit, or maybe when you got back from break? I know that this definitely happened to me! This is one reason why I LOVE whole brain teaching! The classroom management system created by WBT has different levels for you to uncover as you go through your year. You don't have to spend your nonexistent extra time and energy on devising a whole new plan, but you can just unlock some new features! I am no classroom management expert, but I brushed up on some WBT resources during my fabulous day off yesterday, and Chris Biffle, the WBT guru definitely made me feel 100 times better! I don't feel like an incompetent teacher anymore… this slump in behavior happens to everyone as students get comfortable with the classroom management plan that you have in place.
So, what is this classroom management plan that I think so highly of? Well, it starts out as what many of you may have already heard of… The Scoreboard. The scoreboard is exactly what it sounds like… a scoreboard! You can use one of many variations, smileys vs. frowns, class vs. teachers, boys vs. girls, etc. I started out by using smileys vs. frowns because it was easiest to explain the type of behavior that I was looking for using this system. Now, we have moved onto class vs. teachers because my students LOVE trying to beat me! I don't think I will use boys vs. girls because I want my class working together, not against one another!
The best part… it's SO simple to implement. Just draw a t-chart on your board and label it! Voila!
Each time your students are engaging in positive behavior (responding quickly to a direction, transitioning quietly to the carpet, etc.), put a tally mark under the "smiley" side. Each time your students are not engaging in positive behavior (continuing to talk when you've called their attention, having their own conversations during a lesson, etc.), put a tally mark under the "frown" side. This has helped my transition time tremendously, simply by just saying, "I wonder who's gonna get the point, me or you!" I hear my students whispering to others "Come on! Help us beat Miss Peluso!" I love when they do the redirecting for me! :)
Here's the fun part. When they get a "smiley," students say a quick "OH YEAH!" and pump their fist in the air. When they get a "frown," students sigh and raise and lower their shoulders. This makes the whole process exciting for them.
So, what are the other levels? Level 2 introduces practice cards. Here's what you need: a pocket chart or library pockets (1 for each student), and a stack of white practice cards labeled with a rule number. I just printed these on blank card stock, but you can just as easily use an index card and write the rule numbers on them.
This level focuses on individual behavior, rather than whole class behavior. It helps the class still earn tally marks even though Chatty Cathy forgets to raise her hand to talk. Here's how it goes. When a student breaks a rule (Chatty Cathy calls out), he/she gets a rule #2 white card placed in his/her pocket. You don't need to say anything, just walk over and put the white card in. No instruction interrupted *cheer!* At some point during the day when there is down time (Chris Biffle suggests at the beginning of recess, but we are not allowed to take recess away. Sometimes I send my kids out a few minutes early so I am not taking away recess. Otherwise, the beginning of snack works for me), the student spends about a minute or two silently rehearsing the rule.
Here's my task to you. Try silently rehearsing one of the rules for just 30 seconds. See how annoying it is. Personally, if I ever had to do that, I would make sure that I never broke a rule again!
The whole idea behind this is that the child is not "punished," he or she just needs more practice. Just like a professional baseball player can't be perfect if he doesn't practice! If a student does get a white card, however, a note goes home telling parents/guardians about the rule that needs additional practice. The note will come back to school signed. I like that the parents are involved in this process. It makes my students see that we are in this together.
Are you wondering what happens to kids who don't have much of a home life or whose parents are known for never sending things back in? I was too! For these kiddos, you can assign them an "on campus parent," like another teacher in your grade, or an aide who comes into your room. This is the person who the student will give the note to, and who will hold the student accountable for practicing. This is also the person who can celebrate with the child when he/she gets a purple card (more about that another time!)
Chris Biffle suggests that students get no more than two white cards a day, so use them sparingly! I agree with this. You don't want to completely stack the odds against one student. So, make sure that you don't pick apart what Chatty Cathy is doing and give her two white cards before lunch! Then you don't have much left to do about it for the rest of the day.
Finally, there is a simple solution for students who refuse to practice, or who say "I talked to dad and he said that I don't have to practice." It's the "2 minutes my way or 4 minutes your way" rule. The students can practice for 2 minutes or can sit there for 4 minutes. It's up to them! This gives the power to the student to make his/her own decision.
Interested? Here's the video if you'd like to watch!