Do you know a teacher who has his or her classroom very well behaved no matter what crop of children they receive? Nearly every child is following directions in these classrooms for the majority of the school year. You could walk into these classrooms later in the year and wonder what their secret is. The secret lies in the first few days and weeks of school. The first few days of school are SO crucial. If a teacher allows and ignores whispering in the hallway now, then students will be yelling in the hallway by Christmas. You must “nip it in the bud” my college professor once told me. If students don’t do EXACTLY what you want the first few days of school, you must make them practice it over and over again until you get EXACTLY the behaviors you desire.
I was so proud of my novice teacher today! I mean smiling 1000 watt smile with all of my teeth showing on the inside. I had a long talk with her on the phone before our first day of school. I reminded her to practice every single procedure until she got the desired behavior she was looking for. I also told her to be specific about every detail when she explained each procedure.
In our conversation I said “Remember every behavior that got on your nerves last year,”.
She said, “mhum.”
I posed this question to her, “What happens when your rule is “STAY IN YOUR SEATS” and a child drops his or her crayons box? All of the students’ eyes follow the spewing of crayons while you are teaching. About six little feet patter across the floor to “help” the poor student who has just dropped the entire contents of his precious school box. You stand there not knowing whether to warn these “helpers” since they were only “helping” or thank them because they were assisting their peers.”
To hold students accountable for every action, a great teacher has foreseen the inevitable behavior of children and will address these actions before they happen. If a situation arises that hasn’t been addressed, the teacher will make a learning experience from it.
So, the reason for my 1000 watt smile : D is that my novice teacher was doing all of these things exactly like we discussed. As I walked in her room today I was so impressed of how she was having her students practice every procedure until they mastered it to her standards! She quickly dished out consequences for inappropriate behavior, and all children were attentive! I could take veteran teachers in her room into learn from such a model classroom! BRAVO!
Because rubrics are such a large part of our state testing, I decided to include a rubric with my behavior management card system. On our state testing a 4 is Advanced, 3 is Proficient, 2 is Basic, 1 is Below Basic, and 0 is an irrelevant response. To emulate the state testing rubric I made each card on my behavior system equal to a 4, 3, 2, 1, or 0. Students receive a score at the end of the week out of a total point value of 20. Students are allotted 4 points a day which equals 2o points for a 5 day week. If students get at least 18 out of 20 points, they receive a special treat on Friday. On Friday, I communicate students total score on a parent communication page attached to students’ weekly graded work. See the chart system in picture form below.
I came across an article by Ross Miller of Association of American Colleges and Universities yesterday, and it reminded me of how important it is to have high expectations for children. In this article it states that students may have equal abilities, but the student who is expected to achieve more will perform more highly. Teachers tend to attribute poor performance from a higher achieving student to bad luck while a low achieving student’s poor performance will be attributed to lack of ability. Americans tend to link ability and performance with little thought of student effort. Teachers in the U.S. tend to see low ability as something that is immutable. Contrastingly, Japanese and Chinese teachers attribute students’ learning more to the teaching received and to students’ effort. Since China and Japan tend to dominate the world in achievement, we could definitely learn from their high expectations of ALL students’ success.
I have always been a big fan of Greater Expectations–a way of instilling high expectations in your classroom with positive statements, cheers, proverbs, and songs etc. From this workshop about ten years ago I got the following words for the posters shown below. Every year I place these poems outside my door so that students can see them when they enter. I make reference to the posters often to let students know how bright they are and that I believe in their ability to succeed.
- How will students obtain a sharpened pencil?
- How will students line up?
- How will students take turns going to the bathroom?
- What will students do while waiting in line?
- How will students prepare when going home?
- How will students turn in homework?
- How will students communicate with parents?
- How will you record behavior?
- How will students work in centers?
- How will students work in groups?
- How will you get your students’ attention when they are doing an activity?
- How will students handle manipulatives appropriately?
- How will students turn in their work?
- How will students label their papers?
- What will students do when they arrive at school?
- Where will students place their backpacks and personal items.
- How will students sit appropriately when you are talking?
- How will students show you they are listening?
- How will students sit on the carpet?
- How will your rewards/consequences system work? What are the students’ responsibilities?
- How will students solve a disagreement?
- What will students do when they have a question?
- What will students do when they need to use the restroom?
- What will students do when they are tardy?
- What will students do when they are absent for missed assignments?
- What will students do with communication (notes etc.) from parents?
- What will students do if they are sick?
- How will students travel in the room?
- How will students address the teacher and other adults?
- How will students answer the door?
- How will students act when there is a visitor in the room?
- How will students use their voices when working in different situations (testing, cooperative groups, independent work).
- What will students do when another student is bothering them or bullying them?
Are your students working towards mastery of their multiplication facts? their AR goal? or maybe some other goal? When your students in class are working towards a goal, use a string of large C9 Christmas lights to represent each child. Label student names on each bulb with a Sharpie marker. Unscrew the bulb so that it won’t light up until the child has reached the goal. When a child reaches his/her goal, then screw in the bulb so that it lights up. Eventually the whole string will be lit when all of the children reach their goals!
Clink, Clank times twenty-five students can create a deafening noise in combination with twenty- five low voices, so try this to quieten your classroom. There is the obvious use of the less durable, new foam manipulatives. Then there is the option of giving every student a sheet of felt to soften the noise of plastic or wood manipulatives. However, if you use felt, it has a tendency to slide around too much on students desks. Recently a fourth grade teacher shared an idea with me which I had never thought of…use the foamy-type liner (without the peel off sticky backing) that you buy to line your kitchen cabinets. Cut each student a rectangle to use for their desk. This type of contact paper doesn’t slide!
To reward your students, try smellys. Students love smellys. Smellys are when you put a happy face on the back of a child’s hand using scented chapstick or the like. If you have several flavors of chapstick, students will want all of the flavors on their hand. For example, if you have banana, cherry, and chocolate, students could progressively gain all of the scents during a day for their good behavior to accumulate the scent of a banana split.
I have personally witnessed two teachers use this in their classes and it works exceptionally well. The novelty will wear off after time, but it works well for students at this point in the year when summer break and friends are all that is on children’s minds.
- Buy a feather boa.
- Tell your students to put their heads down on their desks and close their eyes.
- Tell them when you pass by and touch them with the feather boa they can line up.
This seems to have a magical effect because feathers are quiet and those who are in line are in suspense waiting to see who will be feathered next.