Sunday, March 17, 2013

Focus Focus-Working on Behavior part 2

In my last post, I shared that my class was having focusing and behavior issues.  This is the time of the year when we should be getting a lot done, when I as a teacher am reminded of how much we just haven't got to in science and social studies, and when it's quite possible that the kids are ready to fall apart see how much they can get by with.

To solve our learning and behavior issues, I put students in teams of three to discuss ideas they had for improving our learning environment. I gave students the following criteria for their ideas:

It must be:
Simple and Quick (IE, not extra work for the teacher!)
Positive/Less Punitive

My goal was that students would help me find positive ways to motivate them. I explained that negative consequences (emails to parents, silent lunch, laps at recess, etc) would come if the positive method did not help them change their behavior. As students started working and discussing, I also had to add NOT HUMILIATING to this list. They were thinking of some embarrassing punishments that I would never be able to use (but might dream of ;)

Here are some of the ideas students came up with:
* Writing in a feelings journal that you share with someone you trust to help you deal with friendship issues like arguments at recess
* require students to play a team game at recess if people are unfocused in order to learn to work together
* class apologies (we did this in January and students wanted time to do it again)
* 3 strikes you’re out-sit out for 5 min--individual based with a daily reward
* Silent lunch and 5 minutes extra recess each day for good behavior
* class dojo

For a second, I thought Class Dojo might be a good idea. We could create a CLASS dojo based on our class values and behaviors and work towards a group goal. (I was pretty anti individual dojo's because I know I wouldn't be good at giving positive feedback and it would be hard to do it equally and fairly for 20 kids.) Interestingly, for the most part, students were against Class Dojo because it is being used in our special area classes and they mentioned that it is causing them to compete to be the first student to do the things that get them positive points. I would bet it is also not really improving the behavior of the few who need to improve. 

We decided that instead of the feelings journal, we could have a table in the lunch room that was for problem-solving and discussing issues you have with the person you are not getting along with. (For the most part, my kiddos are friends and get along--but being together for two years means they do get irritated with each other and have conflicts). If students go to the table to discuss a problem, no one (including me) is allowed to ask what they were discussing. A few students have already used the problem solving table.

Moving on to classroom behavior issues, I had a few students disagree with getting rewarded every day for good behavior (candy, extra recess, etc). One student said "I don't think we should get rewarded for things that are expected."~~Phew! I was holding my breath waiting for someone to say what I was thinking. My kiddos have been with me long enough to know my belief system--do what's right, work hard, expect nothing in return. And sometimes, you might be surprised with a reward "just because." I think they also realized that a piece of candy wouldn't necessarily motivate them every day and wouldn't solve our problems.
Next we moved on to discuss the "3 strikes" idea. I reminded them that I wanted to start with positive strategies so we had to find a way to make this idea motivating. In comes the RECOGNITION WALL. I said I like the idea of three strikes and then explained an idea I had come up with as I listened to a small group discuss "3 strikes."75% of students voted yes on this method, so here it goes:

I created a recognition wall outside of the classroom so that the "Hall of Fame" is visible by students as they come into class and by visitors and other staff members. I created student name plates and then attached velcro pieces to the name plate and bulletin board paper. This makes it easy to attach and remove names daily. (You could use push pins or staples, too).
Each day I review the recognition wall before I leave school or look over it in the morning before students return to class. I decide who needs to be removed from the wall and who may have earned MVP status for that day’s behavior. I use MVP status to recognize out-of-the-ordinary good behavior.

I also made little baseballs to use as warning cards throughout the school day. I place them on students’ desks when behavior needs to change.

Lastly, I considered a few of my students that perhaps wouldn't be too motivated by the recognition wall. I really tried to get into their heads and figure out why they behave the way they do (making extra noises, talking excessively while I'm talking, etc.) For these students, I think it comes down to a desire for more attention from their classmates. I decided that perhaps a reward that pulls in a few other classmates would be motivating--choosing 2 or 3 classmates to eat with at lunch. (We have these circular tables in the middle of our lunchroom that seem "special.") With NO strikes, students can pick three friends, with TWO strikes, they can pick two friends, with THREE strikes, they get no reward that day. (So it goes 3-2-1...3 friends, 2 friends, no reward). When behavior changes more regularly, we may move to once a week rewards.

I placed the 3 strikes card onto these students desks after negotiating the reward with them. Of course, you can use the score card for consequences, but I wanted to try positive motivation. You might also have a class of students that all need the cards on their desk. In that case, you would have to come up with a reward that is possible to give to everyone, but I have had the experience that it's a small few students that disrupt the class. Generally, most students are motivated by simple recognition. (Maybe students get their name in a jar for no strikes and you pull out a few at the end of the week to receive some type of reward).

I have worked on a few versions of the Recognition/Behavior Management wall.

I may come up with a few more themes, but these are the three I was able to get finished so far. Let me know if you have one you would like to see. I have decided to charge 1.20 for these. With a few minutes of printing and cutting, your recognition wall can be ready to go in no time!

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