My philosophy of classroom management is centered on the idea of positive reinforcement and natural consequences.
I use many different incentive and reinforcement systems in my classroom. I work to ensure that I have a whole group, small group, and individual incentives.
We have a marble jar that we earn marbles for. When the jar is full, we vote on an incentive. (Like lunch in the classroom, Miss Van Maren eating lunch in the lunchroom, our principal coming to read us a book, or 5 minutes of extra recess, etc.) Sometimes it is a special “book” (like our money book- something they were going to get to do anyway, but their engagement is even higher when they think they’ve earned it— Shh… don’t tell them!) We earn marbles for things like hallway behavior, excellent job working quietly during centers, and any time they are with an other teacher (P.E., Library, etc.) they can earn up to 5 marbles (one for every class rule...)
I have found table points are a very effective way to motivate groups. It’s not a new way to do things, but it’s very effective. It helps students motivate each other to respond to requests quickly and efficiently.
I use class money. When I first started teaching, I used “super students”- which was just money I designed—little one, five, and ten “dollars” that had frogs to match my theme.
After a few years, I realized that having money that was just like real money would be more beneficial because it would increase their exposure (identifying and counting). So I made oversized pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters. I start the year with only pennies, nickels and dimes. When they earn 5 pennies, they trade in for a nickel, and with 5 more pennies they can trade in for another nickel or a dime. With their dime, they can shop in the “Wahoo! Box”. About every other Friday, we have “Wahoo! Day” when they can buy some kind of prize. (Everything in the box costs the same amount… later in the year, when they have quarters, I have additional items that cost a little bit more that they can choose from). It may surprise you to know that their FAVORITE things are usually the McDonald’s kids meal toys that I get donated.
Another behavior system that I have in my class is a color-coded clip system. I was extremely resistant to using a clip or card system because I felt like it broadcasted the poor choices, where I would rather celebrate the good choices that are made. That was until I had a conversation with my friend Amy who teaches 3rd grade. She told me that her system had the ability to move up from “on task” to “great day” and that sometimes she would even have the kids put their clip on the very top and call it “outstanding”!
From that conversation, I made a chart.
I use mini clothespins so that I can use a regular 8.5x11 piece of paper and still fit all of my kids. (You can find them at Hobby Lobby).
When the students are on “red” (“Lose a privilege”)- I write a note to let the parents know what’s going on so they can reinforce the expectations at home. Similarly, if the student is on “purple” (“Outstanding!”) I write a note so that their positive choices can be reinforced and celebrated at home.
It’s really important that students can redeem themselves. It should always be an option to work towards moving their clips back up. (There are obvious exceptions, and you should use your teacher instinct. Just remember, be fair, be consistent.)
My students color in their STAR book what color they were on and take it home. Having it documented is really helpful for tracking patterns. It can also help with filling in the behavior components of the report card.