Classroom & Behavior Management Systems For The Elementary Classroom
In the classroom, you will most likely come across a student or students that like to get into trouble for attention, or because they just don’t care! Here are some ways to get that child, or children, back on track and trying to do the right thing, instead of the wrong thing.
- Use a ticket system. In the school I teach, we have a ticket system implemented in every classroom. Each grade has a different amount of tickets for each student, and the tickets get fewer as the grade increases. In Kindergarten and 1st grade, however, there are only 3 tickets, because we are trying to get them to learn what’s right and wrong right from the beginning.
Here’s how it works: Once a student is misbehaving, or has been warned about something repeatedly (use your discretion, every child is different) and they do it again, you have them pull a ticket. The first ticket is a warning. You can make the tickets whatever color you want them to be. If they keep repeating the behavior, or move onto another bad behavior, they pull another. The second ticket is a loss of 5 minutes of recess. If the child keeps repeating the behavior, or again, moves onto another undesirable behavior, they pull another. The third ticket is a loss of your whole recess. Now, in Kindergarten and 1st grade, this would also result in a discipline referral being sent home, explaining the rule infractions. 5th and 6th grade also would fall into this category. (Our elementary school is K-6). The 4th ticket is a loss of 2 recesses.The 5th ticket is a discipline referral and a loss of 2 recesses.
How you determine your loss of privileges is up to you, and how many tickets you have is up to you. This is just what we do at the school I teach.
- Write the word RECESS on the board. This is to keep your students quiet if you have a chatty bunch. Every time the students are too loud, or don’t quiet down when you tell them, erase a letter. If you erase 3 letters (ESS) the students lose 5 minutes of recess (depending on how long yours is). If all letters are erased, they lose an entire recess.
- Give each student a cup, or some sort of container to fill. Every day a student behaves (to your discretion) they get a cotton ball (for example). When their cup or container is filled, they get a prize from the prize box. Make the prizes meaningful and worthwhile, or the students won’t care if they receive one or not. You can also do this with groups. If you have your students sitting in small groups, give the group a container or cup, and once that is filled they can choose a prize. I found that allowing them to eat lunch with you is a wonderful prize (if your school allows this).
- Make good behavior a school affair. Where I teach, this is very meaningful. The students earn what we call “DAWG TREATS.” (Out mascot is a bulldog). They earn these by good behavior, helping someone out, or doing really well on a paper or test. They receive what we call “DAWG TAGS.” These are punch cards with numbers on them 1-20. Every DAWG TREAT equals a punch. So when one card is full, they’ve earned 20 DAWG TREATS. Teachers also give just punches to the class for things such as: returning a signed planner, total class behavior, not pulling any tickets (See idea #1), etc. The students can also receive DAWG TEAMS. This is earned when a class behaves for their art, computer, gym, music, and library teachers. The DAWG TEAM is worth one punch for every student.
At certain times of the year the school PTO (Parent-Teacher Organization) comes in and sets up what we call the school store. Using the money in the PTO fund, they buy water bottles, t-shirts, pencils, books, etc. to allow the students to purchase with their punches. A t-shirt, for example, could cost 120 punches. So if the student has that many, they can buy it. The punches are basically like money then. This rewards the student individually for their kindness and hard work.
- Use sticker charts. For the younger grades, a sticker chart may come in handy. For a student who has trouble remembering to raise their hand or stay in their seat, the sticker chart is a good reinforcer. Break the day up into 3-5 time slots. For example, the first time slot could be from the beginning of the day until first recess. The second, after first recess until lunch. The third, lunch until second recess. The fourth, after second recess until dismissal. Your times may or may not be different based on your school’s schedule. If the child meets his/her goals for that time slot, they receive a sticker. If they do not, they don’t receive a sticker. If you have 4 time slots a day, for 5 days a week, the student could earn a total of 20 stickers. You then need to set a weekly sticker goal. If the child receives 15 out of 20 stickers, he/she can choose a prize. Again, make the prizes meaningful and worthwhile. Find out the students’ interests. If they do not meet their weekly goal, they will just start again the next week.
There are other forms of classroom management and behavior systems. Be sure to make your rules and expectations clear from day one, and enforce them! If you give a child an inch, they will try to get a foot. Be firm, but understanding as well. Good luck!
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