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July 23, 2012

Behavior Management Strategies

Written By: Brandi Jordan
X Behavior Management Strategies for the Classroom

Behavior Management Tips for the Classroom

by Tessa Maguire, Guest Blogger

Managing behaviors is usually the number one issue with a new teacher. Student teaching, while giving you lots of opportunities, just isn’t the full experience of managing your very own classroom. Generally, you follow the systems your cooperating teacher already has in place and they establish the routines with the students early on. It’s not until you are truly on your own, that you completely figure it out. I’ve definitely had my own struggles managing behaviors within my classroom, but I’ve learned strategies from some phenomenal teachers. I want to share a few of them with you today.

Strategies for Behavior Management

Procedures

The year needs to begin with you explicitly modeling and teaching procedures with your students. What is your procedure for sharpening pencils? Show them. Have your students do it. Many times it’s the simple procedures that we don’t teach our students because we expect them to know standard school procedures. But they don’t, and they push their boundaries, and it’s those avoidable procedures that drive us the craziest! That first week might feel a little tedious with you teaching, reviewing, and practicing procedures, but it will save you a ton of head ache in the long run. Also remember that you should review and practice the procedures all year long. I always suggested reviewing them in early December, to try and head off some squirminess that will come up. I also recommend reviewing them after you come back from winter break so they are fresh in students’ minds.

 

Positive Reinforcement

We all learn in college that positive reinforcement is the most effective way of managing students’ behaviors. However, once we get in our own classrooms, many times our systems that get established don’t take that into account. The most popular system I’ve seen is a stoplight or red, yellow, and green cards. These systems start students on green. After they’ve made a poor choice or two, their card gets moved to yellow. This may be a phone call home or missed recess. If the child continues to make poor choices that day, they can then be moved to red which may result in a phone call home or being sent to the principal. However, with systems like this, a large majority of the students will never turn their card to yellow. For those students who will need reminders and reinforcement about their behavior throughout the year, they will continue to receive consequences. I also think that many times they will continue to do unwanted behaviors regardless of whether those consequences are in place. Now, I’m not in any way saying there shouldn’t be consequences. Please don’t shoot me. I’m just suggesting that a one-size-fits-all management system focusing on consequences isn’t the route to go.

 

Think about a positive reinforcement system that will work for you. It may be whole class? It can be set up for clusters or tables of students? Some ideas I’ve seen work are jars or cards that are filled for tables. Once the reward is earned, everyone gets changed up and starts over again. I’ve also seen whole classes working to earn a reward. The next thing you will need to identify will be what your consequences will be. Will you have a treasure chest students will pick from? Will they earn non-monetary rewards? How long will it take for students to earn it? With young students, or struggling students, they need to see the rewards pretty quickly for it to motivate them in the future. They struggle to work for something they’ll earn at the end of the month. You may need to start small and work on building into a longer time frame. I’ve seen different rewards work well for different people. It’s all about what works best for you and your students.

 

For those students who continue to struggle, I recommend setting up an individual behavior plan with them rather than just the standard color cards. This will allow you to brainstorm and tailor the plan to that individual child’s needs. It may even be something that you can develop with that child. If you can, it will be that much more motivating for them. I hope I’ve given you a few things to think about as you are preparing for the upcoming year!

 

 

About the Author

Tessa Maguire is a former reading teacher and differentiated instruction coach.  She currently is a Curriculum Coordinator for a charter school.  She spends her days helping her teachers find what works best for them and their students.  She blogs about the resources she finds and creates and she shares tips and strategies for effective instruction.  You can find out more information on her blog Tales from Outside the Classroom or on Facebook.

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  • Ann Marie
    July 24, 2012

    Tessa,
    I very much enjoyed reading your post just now!
    Teaching middle school has definitely motivated me to use many different strategies for rewards. Being that we don’t have “recess” at the junior high age, my students are truly motivated, as a whole class working towards a goal/reward, when I just take them outside to read their novels, work on group projects, or conduct novel discussions. It’s amazing what fresh air will do for them!! I even have them bring an old beach towel or sheet to keep in my cabinet for when we do go outside… for working purposes. ( I have to justify taking them outside–though I wish I didn’t have to…) While it’s not really “play” time, they appreciate getting to leave their desks and have a little relaxed time outdoors while they work!
    I keep a “treasure chest” too for individual rewards–stashed with a lot of $1 bin items and chips–You should see what 8th graders do for a bag of chips! 😉 I could go on and on…. Anyway, thanks for sharing your ideas.
    New and veteran teachers always need different tactics to stash! No two students are alike and the combination that makes up a class each year is filled with totally different dynamics and personalities from the previous year.
    Ann Marie Smith @ Innovative Connections

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  • Angela Martin
    July 23, 2012

    One more suggestion for the behavior chart is to also use it show lunch choices. I purchased some different money bills from dollar tree. I made the $1 bill light green, the $5 bill red and the $10 bill yellow(bright). I made them taller than the strips mentioned earlier for behavior:yellow, green, orange and pink. They show up behind them. The $1 stands for choice 1 lunch. The $5 stands for lunch 2 choice and the $10 stands for packed lunch. When it comes to line up for lunch it is much easier to line them up the way our cafeteria staff wants: choice 1, choice 2, and then packed. If you have cold or hot lunch choices or salad this could easily be modified. It helps brighten the room too. My room is blue and green(calm colors). I have all of my charts and baskets in these colors too.

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  • Angela Martin
    July 23, 2012

    Each day the students start out with 4 cards (yellow, green, orange and pink). I chose those colors because that was the index card colors I had in my desk. I cut them to fit in my behavior chart~which was the who is here attendance chart. I place name tags on each pocket with the students names. We go over the rules and expectations for the first 2 weeks daily and sporadically as needed. If the students lose the yellow they lose 5 minutes of recess. The green they lose 15 minutes. The orange 20 minutes and they have to call home or write a note explaining why they got in trouble. I have made a form on my computer and I make a copy before they take it home. If they lose the pink they lose all of their recess and have to visit the Principal. Our school has started Effective School Wide Discipline so our rewards is changing this year. The students have an opportunity to earn Eagle (our mascot) Bucks for good behavior and doing kind things for others. 3 Bucks they can trade in for a new pencil and special eraser. 5 Bucks they can trade in and switch seats with another student for a day. 10 Bucks they can trade in for a homework pass. 15 Bucks they can trade in for a prize from the prize box. 20 Bucks they can trade in to eat lunch with the teacher. 25 Bucks they can trade in for a box of candy. 30 Bucks they can trade in and eat lunch with the Principal or a student in another class. The students will be expected to keep up with their money. The first day of school they will get to decorate their own envelopes. The school is starting this so it will be neat to see it work. The students and parents receive a contract with rules, consequences and rewards in their welcome folder. They sign and I sign it. They get a copy and I have a copy. It can be brought out during meetings or conferences. I try to have a positive attitude at all times, but there is a reason for rules. It helps class go smoother and the students can learn and I can teach.

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  • Julie P.
    July 23, 2012

    Great ideas for beginning of the year!

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