Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Happy Students, Happy Parents, Happy Teacher, Happy Classroom

Hello all! Summer is just ticking away!!!! Where has it gone?? For us, it's gone to the beach, to the mountains of NY state, to the river, to story hour at our local library, to the pool, it's gone on walks, to cookouts....I guess it's gone a lot of places, so I can't complain one bit! :o)

Teachers, do you feel like you start a new job every August/September? I was reflecting on the anxiety excitement of meeting a new group of students each year, and how, to me, it's like beginning a new job every year. Each August I spend at least 3 sleepless nights before the first day of school going over my checklists and supplies in my head. I reflect back on the previous first days of school and try to squeeze every ounce of what-was-successful and what-FAILED...I'm already starting to do that now...make it stop! :o)

The real reason for this post: today I want to talk about classroom management. Duh-duh-duuuuummmmm!!! Y'all, I swear I have used a different form of classroom management every single year. Some have worked - eh. Some have worked - okay. But nothing has really struck me as the perfect method. Even what we used last year...it just wasn't the right fit for that group. It was a great theory...but just didn't work.

I'm kind of convinced that the entire system of rewards in general just doesn't work. See, my goal is to teach children (or reinforce) that you behave in the classroom (and everywhere) because it's the right thing to do and you just have to do it. I cringe when there's a promise of a reward just because they did something they were already supposed to do. Take the rule of Respect, for example. You're supposed to respect your teachers. and other children. and all adults. PERIOD!!! I don't believe a child should get a sticker or prize for being respectful. I know, I know...there are many conflicting opinions on this subject. But in my personal opinion, children are going to grow up into adults. If you expect something in return of your good behavior, what kind of an adult do you turn out to be? Would you want to hang out with someone like that? Would that person be successful in the workforce? If you are a teacher who does the rewards system in your classroom, and it is working wonders for you, then I don't diss you for doing it. Especially in some of the schools in my county, there are children who have no idea how to behave because they were never taught to. So rewards, for them, at first, may be necessary. However, in my school and in my past 3 classes, the students have already been well groomed in the areas of respectfulness, waiting their turn, etc. So I don't have to teach them HOW to do this...I simply play off of what their parents have already instilled in them.

**  Okay...stepping down from my soap box. ;o)  **

I have always used the color system in my classroom, just in different forms. Last year I made this:

Y'all have seen this before...not new...totally borrowed from everyone else with the color system. Start on green, move up to purple for being superb, go down a color for breaking a rule, blah, blah, blah. Every week that a child was on either green or purple all week, s/he would go to the treasure box and get to pick a ticket like these:

CLICK HERE to go to First Grade Fever to download your free copy

They were really fun! Stinky Feet was a favorite (some of my little girls painted their toes in honor of using their stinky feet card! :o) And all of that was working all well and fine, but do you know what happened? They started doing extra little things just to go up to purple and get a reward for it. And once they were on purple, the extra wonderful behavior stopped, because there was no where to move up to after that. Just thinking out loud...am I crazy for being annoyed with well behaved children????  ;o) Do you understand what I'm annoyed about? Please someone stop me if this is ridiculous!!  LOL...

Now for the consequences: We had certain things that would happen if the students went down a color (time away, limited or no recess, etc.). No matter what color a child was on, if it was blue or worse, a note went home. Every time. Yep, y'all heard right: every time a child misbehaved, no matter what, we sent home a note that had to be signed and returned. To make it more time efficient, I sent home something like this:

CLICK HERE to download (I don't know who this is made by...just found it by googling)

PARENTS: ***If any of last year's parents are reading this, and you have feedback good or bad on the frequency and content of the notes, will you please email me? I would love to hear how you liked/didn't like them.

For what it's worth, I think we sent home 20 notes total last year. If even that many. I don't recall a day where a child went past yellow (the second offense). And there were maybe 2 times someone went to yellow all year. We just didn't have behavior problems like we've had in years past. I don't know whether to credit that to the notes that made parents immediately aware of any could-be problems or whether our class was just that great.

We also use the Brownie Points system that is floating all around Pinterst. I made "brownies" (googled "brownie clip art" and printed a bunch and then made a sign in Word) and laminated them and put magnets on the back. Each time they received a glowing report from a resource class teacher (meaning not even one child got in trouble), they earned a Brownie Point, and we stuck one up on a cookie sheet at the front of the room. When they earned 12 brownies, we did something special. The students voted on what they wanted to do. Some rewards were Picnic Snack (we ate snack on blankets outside), Shaving Cream Party (I brought shaving cream, and let them play with it on their tables), Movie Party (they got on their rest mats all together at the front of the room and watched a short episode of Shawn the Sheep on my Netflix account), etc. So really all rewards were either free/fairly inexpensive, and they all had tons of fun with each one.

CLICK HERE to download brownie images and sign for $2


I found this over the summer and LOVE IT!!!!

CLICK HERE to go to the original blog post, and download your copy. Check out her other posts too - love her!! This is from Kimberly Gillow at Funky First Grade Fun.

I haven't decided on whether to have anything displayed other than these two rules and the class motto that goes along with it.

I'm definitely keeping the Brownie Points. For the sake of our resource teachers if not for anything else!! ;o)

So questions: What works in your classroom? Should I use rewards for the very best behavior or bag it? Should I make a new display besides the color system that's a little more simplified? Keep the old one? Wait and see how this class's chemistry is? Any and all feedback is welcomed!!! :o)

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