Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Management Mon-ERR-Tuesday

Oh, it's that magical time of the year.

The Fourth Quarter

The Home Stretch

End of the Year

You'll notice that some parts of your day run smoothly and some -- not so much. 
In fact, you'll find yourself thinking (or saying) "You have lost your mind!"

On the other hand, you probably have a few cuties who could literally run your classroom for you. Which I L-O-V-E! I've got two girls who stay a little bit longer at the end of the day and set up my room for the following day. They rock. They even did it when I had a substitute.

It really is amazing how consistent routines and establishing a positive classroom environment can shape and mold your students for the better. Sometimes, it may not seem like it works for all of your sweeties, but it does. You just have to look deeper to see how they do have decorum {especially compared to the beginning of the year.}

It's around this time of year {and Christmas} where I find myself feeling like a tyrant.
When I am feeling this way, I think about the things I am NOT doing.

Am I not praising my kids enough?
Am I not rewarding positive behavior?
Have I forgotten to give them more talking time {Think-Pair-Share?}

Sometimes, we get so wrapped up in pacing guides, mandatory testing, and preparing for those mandatory tests that we forget to do the things that we know we should be doing. 
It's the pressure. I don't know about your schools, but the pressure is high at my school. Everything hinges on getting those kids out of the red zone and earning an "A" grade for your school.

When we are feeling threatened by this, we don't have as much patience as we normally would possess. And the kids feel it. They know it. They know we aren't ourselves. Are they compassionate and sympathetic to our plight? Goodness, No! This makes your potential problem students bOnkErS!!!

What to do? Stop. Take a deep breath. Prioritize.

Ask yourself, do I need to stop this lesson? Sometimes our lessons flop. It happens to the best of us. Let go. Move on. Do something else. PLEASE - for the sake of the children - let that lesson go!

Having positive reward systems really help during these times.

Here are three positive reward systems I've got going in my class.

First: Small Group
Really fancy - That's me!
When my kids are not sitting at the rug, or working quietly around the room during Daily 5 time, they are sitting at tables.

Now, I've read about the advantages of letting the kids pick their seats, but I just can't do it. Call me old school on this one. I like assigned seats.  Assigned seating makes me feel better {I'll change their spots about two, maybe three, times a year.}

Each table is a color and that is the name of their group. Real original, I know. I could let them come up with clever names like I did when I was teaching fourth grade. However, first graders aren't great at coming up with names and they usually fight about it, never reach a compromise, and then someone is sad about the name. Hence, me calling them by their table color. Easy

Anyway, when I see their table being quiet, working together, making smart choices, or keeping things clean {whatever, I feel is awesome at the time} I'll reward their group a point. The first group to reach 20 gets a prize. Then, I erase ALL groups points and we start over.

I've had a list of options for their reward, but I got rid of them a few years ago. Now their prize is to each lunch with me in the classroom and I'll throw on a funny video.

My kids really hate eating in that noisy cafeteria, so this reward is a BIG winner every time.

This is an easy system to use. It's on that little white board and I don't forget to do it.

Second: Individual
Reward Inside

Winter Bucket

I saw this awesome idea on the blog, What the Teacher Wants! around Halloween time. Rachelle's system worked out so well, I continued using it throughout the year. I've changed from a pumpkin bucket, to the snowman bucket, and now the cupcake bucket.

The bucket has a little prize inside it. It travels to the students who are caught making smart choices and whoever ends up with the basket/bucket by the end of the day gets the prize inside. I try to make the prize something meaningful like sock time or sitting at my desk for a day.

It's a good one! Thanks, Rachelle!

Third: Whole Group
Idea from Whole Brain Teaching
This whole group system is also pretty easy to do. The class earns smiley's for making good choices and frowney's for not following the rules. At the end of your designated time frame, if the class has more smiley's than frowney's, then they get a prize. My prize may be a song or extra 5 minutes of recess. You can choose the time frame, just as long as you let the kids know how long they have until you do the final count of the tallies.

That's it.

I like easy systems that I can remember to do. Plus, they are mostly acknowledgments of positive behaviors. Which keeps me positive!

In the past, I have used the clip chart and the "flipping cards" thing, but I could never keep it up. I'd forget to move the clips or cards. It was too much work for me. I'd only move the misbehaving students down. Then, I'd feel bad about forgetting to move up my good students' clips. It just wasn't simple enough for me. Plus, I felt awful about having a visual reminder of my "bad" students for everyone to see. They are always the same kids. We want to reverse the behavior pattern not continue it!

Heather, over at Heather's Heart has some really great blog posts about Conscious Discipline. They get you thinking critically about how you speak to your students and your classroom management. I'm digging it! I'm also learning about some of the bad things I do that I need to ditch and some of the good things I'm already doing {yippee!} 

1 comment:

  1. I like your simple system.
    I just bought Conscious Discipline on Heather's recommendation. It arrived today :) Looking forward to reading it.
    Thanks for sharing your management ideas!

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