Sunday, June 16, 2013

Managing Crazy Town & All of Its Craziness

Riddle me this, riddle me that...What's something that's nearly impossible to learn about within the walls of a college classroom, something that changes from year to year &&& something that will ruin a classroom faster than an open canister of glitter left unattended? CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT...duh! For the second week in a row I'm linking up with Leigh Langton over at the Applicious Teacher for her Apple a Day blogging fiesta. This week's topic is none other than classroom management. There are so many different nooks and crannies of classroom management that it's definitely tough to narrow it down to fit on this blog (and not put anyone to sleep).
Before I even think of typing another word, first things first...I'm not claiming to be the classroom management guru...I'm certainly not perfect. Secondly, I'm also not claiming to have any brand spankin new twists on managing a classroom. Finally, in my 6 years (moving into the 7th) of teaching my kids have never been perfect, they've always talked a lot, and next to talking wiggling is their favorite thing to do in the world BUT they always know what my expectations are and they always know what the rewards/consequences are for their actions. Seriously...they're so good (or I'm so repetitive) that they can recite what I'm going to say in response to any given behavior before I speak a word.

When I first started teaching (7 years ago) my school adopted a school wide positive behavior model.  With this model, anything we do focuses more on rewarding the positive than the negative. If you think about it, kids want attention...some crave it more than others, but they're all seeking attention.  Our school wide behavior model operates on the belief that if you spend the majority of your time calling attention to the good behaviors/actions your kids are more likely to seek that positive attention and abandon the negative behaviors that don't get them recognized. True, it doesn't work for every kid, but it's a good start and it definitely doesn't hurt to reward your sweet little loves in the process of attempting to transform your littles that think any attention is good attention. In order to recognize the good behaviors and choices of our students we hand out PAWS tickets (our mascot is a bulldog so there's a reason behind the name). At the end of every month the kids get to spend their PAWS tickets at the PAWS store. They have to have atleast 10 tickets to shop which after a month of saving everyone always has atleast that- -the more tickets you have the more/bigger prizes you can buy. If you've read my blog before you know that I can't stand makes me panicky. As you can imagine saving paper tickets for a month can get pretty messy and clutter-rific (the stuff nightmares are made of). To fight back against the clutter, I give each of my kids an envelope to store their tickets in and at the end of the week we take them out and count them up.

Their paws balance is placed on their "credit card" and they turn their paper tickets back into our PAWS basket (recycling at its best). They take their PAWS punch card (credit card) with them to the store where the clerk uses a hole punch to punch through the amount used (each block is worth 10 paws cards). It's nothing fancy, but it has been a sanity saver for me. Even simpler, all I do is sign my initials in each box to prove that they have indeed earned those 10 paws. Keeping it it!

As much as I love the paws system, it's just not enough to keep a classroom moving in the right direction. I know that I've blogged before about what a cohesive unit first grade is so it shouldn't come as a surprise that we've all adopted the same behavior management technique...right??? Keeping in mind that whatever we use has to be positive we chose to use the "clip chart" idea floating around on Pinterest. It's not an original idea, but it's a fabulous idea and really helped to keep my kids aware of their behavior and their choices. My biggest thing in my classroom is that attitude is everything. I always, always, always tell my kids that life can be sweet or it can be sour and that their choices pick the flavor for their day. Just in case you aren't familiar with the clip chart method, here's a simple breakdown...
1. Every student has a clothespin that starts the day clipped onto green "Ready to Learn."
2. Based on their choices, they can either clip up (blue, purple, or pink) or clip down (orange, yellow, red). Up is good...down is not so good.
3. Anything green and above earns a sticker at the end of the day.
4. The kids can move up and down throughout the day...there's always room for improvement (the world doesn't end because you're on can always work your way back up...if you choose to).
5. Anybody on pink at the end of the day gets to sign their name on a BINGO square- -the winner gets a special prize at the end of the week.

Oh so simple and oh so perfect! I know that there are people out there that hate the clip chart, but when it's done correctly (focusing on the positives) it's a beautiful tool for classroom management. I don't have a picture of the actual one hanging in my classroom, but it looks a little like this (just with more colors). This one's from Mrs. Ricca's Kindergarten...anything with a bow and I'm there.

In my simple description of the clip chart I mentioned stickers for good behavior. If you've ever seen a man on the side of the road holding a sign saying "will work for food" wellllll kids should have one saying "will work for stickers" because they work their booties off for that daily sticker. The stickers don't have to be anything fancy...a simple smiley face sticker does the job on most days. On Friday (and holidays) I pump up the sticker excitement with special themed stickers or smelly stickers. You gotta keep them on their toes with their sticker collecting you know?!? Anyone that has earned a sticker for each day of the week gets to visit my treasure box for a prize of their choice.

There are tons of other little things that go into making a class run smoothly (well as smoothly as possible when 6 year olds are involved), but these are the major ones in my classroom. &&& with that I need a nap in the sun while it's still shining.

Until next, love, && enjoy the summer sun! :)


  1. So happy to have found your blog!! I, too, am a lover of all things polka dot & the point, it might be a sickness! Also, southern born & raised...and happy about it ! :)

    I'm going to try a version of the clip art chart this year (first discipline change in 12 years!) so we'll see how it goes :)

    First Grade Fairytales

    1. If loving polka dots and chevron is wrong then I don't want to be right! :)
      The clip chart worked really, really well in my room. The kids were more aware of their choices and decisions and they cheered their friends on with the "race to pink!" They were obsessed with who would make it first! I hope you have just as fabulous of an experience with it as I did!

  2. Love your blog and especially liked your "life can be sweet or sour" saying. Thanks for sharing.

    Mrs. Rios Teaches Second Grade

    1. Thanks for reading my ramblings! :)