Monday, June 22, 2015

Teachable Moments, Part 3 (Classroom Management)

A large part of teaching relies on being reflective of one's practices.  Some lessons I've bombed and that's alright. I made corrections and retaught it with a different strategy with a different outcome.

Sometimes I embark on various different tasks and when I'm done, I realize there was a much more efficient way to get the job done.  Here is part three of teaching lessons I've learned the hard way.

Classroom Management (and the Prize Bin)

My first year teaching, I spent a long time laminating different colored cards for my behavior system.  I came up with a system that had both positive and negative consequences.  For six years, I used my blue pocket chart and a laminated tracking system for student behaviors.  They'd start each day on green and move up or down depending on their choices. At the end of the day, the color they landed on coincided with a given point value toward a tracker.  At a predetermined point (every 15 points), students visited the prize bin.  
I kept up with this system for the past six years because I thought that's what I was supposed to do.

But you know what? 

It didn't really work.  

What it did was reward the students who are already intrinsically motivated to succeed and publicly acknowledge those that struggle to make good choices.  Honestly, the behavior tracker just reinforced my students' perceptions of themselves.  It wasn't motivating for the students who needed the most reinforcement for positive choices.

So if it wasn't working, why was I doing it?  Because I was supposed to? Because that's what all the other teachers were doing? Because that's what I was used to?  

None of those reasons are justification for keeping something that doesn't work. 

So I got rid of it.  I parted ways with my trusty behavior tracking system that withstood six years of teaching fifth grade.  I passed it along to a brand new kinder teacher.  I'm hoping it works better for kindergarteners than it did for fifth graders.  Since everything is still new to them and they tend to be motivated for stickers, I hope it will be successful in her classroom.

So now what?  

I believe in having some sort of tracking system to reinforce life skills.  Students need to be accountable for their choices.  They need to work for things.  They need to have the experience of working toward individual and classroom rewards.

These rewards will be in the form of coupons for experiences.  I'm still in the process of making these coupons and they will be available on TpT once I'm done.  There will also be physical rewards such as pencils, erasers, and other things that are purchased relatively cheaply.  

So how will students earn these rewards?  

That's right, I'll be using classroom dojo!  I used it previously for Reading Rangers with great success.  It's a free program and parents can see snapshots of how their students are doing.  I can give positive points for any of their predetermined categories or add my own.  I can also take away points for shouting out, not turning in homework, etc.  I'm excited to use this for my whole class management system.   

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