Sunday, February 15, 2015

We Have Consequences, Not Punishments

Everyone does things differently. I even teach my students that we all do things in different ways because we are all different. There is no shame in that. What works for one person may not work for another.

In my classroom I don't use behavior clip charts. I know this has worked wonders in many classrooms (just look at Pinterest and you can find numerous varieties). I used to, but over time I came to realize that the good kids were always good, and the ones with behavior problems always had problems. I was doing nothing for these kiddos but reminding them, and their parents, that they didn't know how to behave. It made for a few very intense parent/teacher conferences. 

Then, about 3 years ago, I was trained in the Responsive Classroom approach. With this training I learned that my previous approach was lacking. I couldn't assume that all students knew how to behave, I needed to teach them, model for them, and remind and reinforce positive behaviors. Ever since I changed my ways, I have had greater success with students learning and following through with classroom expectations.

So, it really gets me when other teachers walk into my classroom and ask where my clip chart is and then look at me like I'm crazy when I say I don't have one. Or, when some of my tougher students misbehave in special areas or in the lunch room, and then I'm told to move their clip when they get back to class.

 A few weeks ago, there was an incident just like that. Usually I have to walk my class through the lunch line, but on this particular day I ran to the restroom real quick. When I came back, a lunch aide informed me that one of my students stepped out of line to get a drink without asking. She told him that when he got back to class he needed to move his clip. His response was, "We don't do that." This lunch aide was appalled and assumed the child was lying. She wanted me to move his clip down two times now. First of all, I would never move a child's clip for stepping out of line. Yeah, maybe he is supposed to ask, but to me this is just an annoying offense that needs a reminder. It has never happened before. Second, why would she assume a child was lying and want to punish him even further without finding out the truth first. I apologized to her and told her I would speak with the child.

When we got back to class, I explained to my students that we do have a behavior system. We follow rules and are rewarded by getting through our lessons and learning. We get to have brain breaks to help refocus our brains for the next lesson. We get to go to recess on time. We get to have fun and participate in learning stations with our friends. We get to sit near our friends and have kind words spoken between us. We get to accomplish goals and wear reward necklaces highlighting our achievements. Sometimes we earn notes written to parents to tell of the fabulous things that happened. We get to video tape fun things in the class and post it on the class webpage for our parents to see, and much more.

On the other hand, when we misbehave or break rules, we have consequences. We may need to take a break to regain control of our bodies and/ or mouths. We may need to fix something we broke or apologize to fix someone's feelings. We may need to lose a privilege, such as not getting to be the line leader, or being able to use markers. Our consequences match the misbehavior so we learn what we did wrong and how we can fix it in hopes that it doesn't happen again. In my opinion, this closely matches real world consequences.
Classroom Rules 2014-2015
Classroom Rules 2015-2016

In my classroom I have the classroom rules posted, along with a behavior matrix and consequences. I also keep copies in my sub folder. These pose as reminders to myself and my students what is expected and how to react if something goes wrong. When I used clip charts, I was always quick to call out across the room, "Move your clip." Not all behaviors require that kind of reaction and I have gotten better at managing my classroom.

I hope that others begin to realize that everyone does things differently, and we're not crazy because we do. We're doing our best to keep our sanity, and if that means doing what works best for us than so be it.

Okay, rant over. Thank you for letting me get this out. I've been brewing on this for awhile. If you are interested in the behavior matrix and/or consequences poster that I hang in my class, you can click the pictures for free downloads.

Good luck with what works best for you and best wishes!

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