Managing Behavior in the Classroom

I will never use behavior charts in my room. Why? 

Behavior charts are simply a tool for recording or tracking behavior with rewards and punishments attached, not a method to teach correct behavior.

Behavior charts cause unnecessary anxiousness in young children! The majority of young children have the innate desire to behave, but at times their natural curiosity, exuberance for life, life situations, or limited attention span halts their ability to adhere to the cultural green-tag expectations of school. If they are constantly threatened with the looming yellow and/or red cards, their natural desires to learn and discover are negatively impacted.

The chart lays in wait! It is there glaring at students, expecting them to misbehave! Charts set the stage for misbehavior...." I expect that you will misbehave, so here I, am ready for you!" "I WILL catch you!"

Behavior charts are negative and embarrassing. Students do not always understand why they are asked to turn their card or move their clip to red. "What did I do?" Young children are not always savvy to the expectations of their teacher "in the moment." 

The "Blue Birds" of the classroom also receive negative consequences. Always staying on green can drive the anxiety of perfectionism. I have always been on green, so I must ALWAYS stay on green! Or worse, the undo stress of the upper colors such as blue. You mean I have to be better than great?

Want a great alternative to the charts?

This is my Behavior Tower, we refer to it as The Tower ! It is simply a large one minute sand timer. (I purchased it at Lakeshore) When a student continues to misbehave (such as poking a friend on the carpet, time and time again), I simply look at the student, point to the tower or I use the sign of tapping my pointer fingers together (which I have taught the class to mean reset), and continue teaching the class. The student quietly moves to The Tower and flips it over. There they stand for 1-minute. At the end of time they return quietly back to the carpet/table/desk and join the group. No embarrassment, humiliation, or wondering why. The 1 minute gives the student time to reflect, reset, and adjust behavior. The purpose is for the child to reset and manage his/her own behavior. I do not call it Time-out, but rather Reset. Time-out carries with it a negative connotation, the term reset further empowers a student along the path of self-regulation and management.

Really, this works like a charm! I had a principal once tell me that she was amazed! I sent a child (yes the same one) to time-out twice during one of my evaluations and did not miss a beat in my teaching. Not one child paid attention to the Reset Time, they simply continued to be engaged in the lesson. The child adjusted her behavior (after her 2nd time-out) and joined the group with a positive smile, ready to learn.

So, when I am asked what behavior system I use, I simply don't have an answer. I don't use a behavior system. Rather, my goal is to empower students to self regulate, to remain engaged because they love to learn, and to enjoy the classroom as a child who has an attention span of a child. If my expectation is that children will behave, they will behave. I simply must respect them and give them opportunity to reflect and a short amount of time to adjust "un-classroom like" behavior. I also use the great tool of, where the focus is on teaching correct behaviors rather than rewards and punishment.