Sunday, August 16, 2015

Back to School: Behavior Management Ideas for Small Groups

I have previously explained the nature of my classroom: I teach seven reading classes, for a variety of age groups and developmental levels, ranging from kindergarten through fifth grade. My students come from different classrooms within each grade level, and I work with them for a 45-minute class session each day. I love what I do, but it does present a few challenges that aren't necessarily the biggest hurdles in a standard homeroom class.       
                                                                   First and foremost, I really wanted to have an awesome classroom management system that would be a universal method, suitable for all of my classes. Last year was my first year to teach in this area, and I used a modified version of the clipboard method. I wanted to continue to use that this year, with a bit more elaboration that would truly motivate my students to do their very best with every minute they spend with me. Forty-five minutes is not that long... I need them to bring their A-game. ;)                                                                                   After much reflection, I developed an honest statement of my management goal for this year: I want to enable each student to take ownership for our classroom and every minute he/she spends there. I made a note for myself and put it on my desk so I will face this little reminder daily.
From there, I reevaluated my clip-chart system. The concept is simple: each group will have their own clip (to be added later after the groups decide on their own name for their individual class). Positive choices (as a whole) move them up the chart; negative choices move them down. I have color-coded prize buckets that correspond to each level, and on Fridays, students visit the bucket that corresponds to their clip placement.

My problem with this was that the students, to this point, had invested nothing in this management system. It was mine; not theirs. So this year, they are building on it in a way that I think will help us all. As a back-to school activity, we are going to discuss each level of the chart, and students are going to share ideas on post-it notes about what it means to be "Ready to Learn" or "Good" and all the way to "Outstanding." I love this because it aligns student expectations to our clip chart. Plus it gives me specific behavior standards by which to measure their time spent with me each day. Double bonus.

This is my clip chart with thought bubbles.
Here's a closer look at each level of the char, as well as the example I provided to give students a jump-start.

I can't wait to see my students' expectations displayed here! What do you think? Do you have any suggestions for me?