Saturday, November 7, 2015

Classroom Management Strategies: Part One

classroom management

By no means do I consider myself a classroom management expert. But I do have over 7 years of classroom experience under my belt, and long list of creative ideas I've tried in my classroom during that time. Some have been extremely successful while others.. not so much. So over the next few weeks I'd like to take some time to share with you some  kid tested, teacher approved, real life strategies for classroom management straight from my classroom to yours!

This week, I'll start with a strategy that I use to help promoted positive behavior choices beginning the first week of school! [I hesitate to say the first day, because, well, we all know how insane the first day of school is.. and while we aspire to start on day one.. it definitely doesn't happen. I'll admit it for us all!).

classroom behavior system

My behavior system is certainly nothing fancy. I will fully admit that to start it off. Fancy isn't always practical, and I am definitely a practical teacher. So, if you're looking for something fancy, high-tech, or amazing brilliance... you won't find that here. It's just a simple, instant-reward ticket system. It works for me and my class, and if you're looking for something new to replace your clip chart, it might work for you too.

Like I mentioned above, I use tickets. Legit raffle tickets. They're low cost and super easy. Rip up a bunch and you're ready to go. Low-prep, low cost. I'm all about it! Here's a link to a bunch of cute, different colored ones I found on Amazon. For about $15 you'd be set forever. Literally. But I picked up my roll at a local party store, and I'm pretty sure I've even seen them at Wal-Mart before. So, they are easy to find and not expensive by any means. One roll should last you the rest of your teaching career!

I use them to reward my students positively. Let me say that again. I use it to reward my students positively. I pass them out to them over the course of the day for expected classroom behaviors.

and when I pass them out, I use positive words.

I like to teach my students to be polite. That includes raising their hands to speak rather than interrupting. Whether it is myself, another teacher, or another student talking, they need to learn to wait their turn patiently, and when they do I reward them and encourage them.

This one is huge. I have quite a chatty class this year, and they talk. Constantly. If one student starts to talk, it's like an epidemic and within seconds the whole class is talking. So, when I see a student working quietly (thankfully there's always at least one child who is!) I reward them with a ticket or two and say this. Usually, within a few seconds, another student takes notice (because they want a ticket too!) and like another epidemic, the talking begins to reverse and the class quiets down again. It's a wonderful thing!

This is another big one for my class this year. I a lot of boys. A LOT. 12 of them to be exact. And they are rowdy! They easily get off task and just love to talk. There's a lot of creativity in them (which I love!) and energy, spunk, exuberance for learning.. I adore them. But I also need them to stay focused when it's time to focus. So when I see one of them focusing when and how they need to be to learn, I reward that with these two phrases and some tickets. It helps and I am thankful for it! 

I also encourage my students when they are working hard. HOW that looks for every student is different. They work at different levels and paces, but as long as they are working hard on their assigned task, I am happy about it. So, of course, I encourage and reward it!

Now, that doesn't mean I don't use them negatively sometimes. But it's only SOMETIMES! If I have to repeat myself numerous times with directly and students still aren't obeying, or if I've rewarded ALL of the other students and that child is still off-task and not making the proper behavior choice, I will take a ticket. Usually, it starts with a warning because sometimes that's enough. However, there have been occasions where the taking of tickets is warranted. It happens. 

Here's how else I use them...
>>>For small group behavior rewards, with a Behavior BINGO chart. When ALL students in their pod are on-task, working hard and working quietly, I tell their captain to color in a square. When they fill a row, everyone in the group gets 10 tickets. When they fill up the board, they get a bonus 10 tickets. Let me tell you what, they encourage each other to be quiet and working! I love the teamwork!

>>>I have a Homework Club, from 4th Grade Frolics, and reward my students at the end of every month with about 15 to 20 tickets (depending on the length of the month and amount of assigned homework). 

>>>Mystery Student rewards! Sometimes, I need to run to the bathroom, or make a copy, or step of the classroom for a minute or two. It happens, it does. So, I'll pull a student name and tell them there is a Mystery Student watching for me while I am gone. They don't know who the Mystery Student is, only I do, and when I return to the classroom, I ask the Mystery Student if the class earned 2 tickets, lost 2 tickets, or nothing happens. 

>>>Field trips! I am NO NONSENSE when it comes to field trips. I have high behavior expectations when I take my class in public. So, I usually tell them that they have one choice: to earn x amount of tickets, or lose x amount of tickets. No in between, no individual-based rewards. They have to work together and they all must be well-behaved. I take no nonsense. Field trips are serious.

So, now what do I do with all of these tickets they are earning?? I'm glad you asked!

I have no-cost (and some low cost) rewards in my prize box, and at the end of every week my students are allowed to shop from the prize box with their tickets. 

These are my reward passes. I no longer buy little trinkets. They become SO costly! So, I use what's already in my classroom, what they ALREADY find to be special, and make it a pass! What's included in them all, here's the rundown:
>>Kindle time
>>computer time
>>no homework for a night
>>sit somewhere else for the day
>>bring in a stuffed animal for the day
>>show and tell
>>lunch with the teacher
>>write with a marker
>>choose your class job
>>free time for the class... and so many more!

Some of the low-cost ones on my end are higher-priced on their end. I have a Teacher Treat and Teacher Lunch pass where they request a treat to be brought in [Panera bagel, local coffee shop muffin or cookie -- they are HUGE! -- brownie, etc] and I bring it in for them. It's a BIG DEAL! Teacher Lunch is an even bigger deal.. they get to request lunch and I bring it in for them and they get to eat with me in the classroom!

I keep all of the reward prizes in this handy little supply box.

I made a little sign to show them how much things cost. I'll explain VIPs in a later post. VIPs are kind of a big deal.

 A former students gave me this owl as a gift one year for my birthday. I keep it on a shelf out of student reach, always filled with tickets. I also keep them in my pocket all day to pass out as the day goes on.

So, that's it! Strategy number one: a positive behavior management system. The key to is this: CONSISTENCY. My students know what I expect and what they should do. If my expectations and rewards remain consistent, I can continue to build (train) their positive choices. Then, over time, I slowly remove the ticket as the reward, but say the phrase the confirm and encourage their positive behavior choices! So far, after 46 days of school, I have been unable to do that with my current group, but we're working on it! :)

What are your thoughts? Do you implement a similar strategy? Share it with me below! I always enjoy finding new ways to approach classroom management!

I'll be back soon to talk about more classroom management ideas, including
>>>Managing Students with OCD
>>>Student Contributors: Class Jobs to Promote Responsibility
>>>The Fairness Cup

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