Sunday, August 18, 2013

Day 17... Using the Purple Clipboard to Manage Behavior

Yesterday I posted about the "Behavior Reports" I use with my students. Today I will share the other two parts of the system I use in my classroom to keep problems with behavior at a minimum.

Like anything else we put into place in our classrooms, management plans vary from year to year. I almost always start out with all of the pieces in place, and then I can fade (or ramp up) different elements depending on the group.

With that in mind, I have been using a "Behavior Clipboard" for a long time in my room. I've posted about it before. (I always laugh when I see my messy handwriting pop up on Pinterest!)

Love those purple digital papers from Aesthetic Addiction HERE and those Jen Jones fonts!
Although our room is housed on an elementary site, I try to teach students the skills to help them transition into middle school. Consequently, most of my management systems are subtle and somewhat inconspicuous. We don't change clips or cards. Instead, classroom behavior is managed through a clipboard system. My clipboard is purple because it is my favorite color. Somehow that conveys the message that I want our classroom to be a place where everyone can learn together successfully.



I think there are many advantages to this system...
  • The clipboard is visible
  • The behavior notes are NOT visible
  • It's quick and easy and requires very little prep or materials
  • It takes up little space
  • You have a record (especially if you are commenting on student behavior reflections as I discussed yesterday) from which you can have conversations with students. Some students truly do not recognize the impact of their actions... And some students don't even recognize their actions!
  • You have a record in case a parent or principal wants to see "documentation"
  • It helps you (and the student) track the type of behavior that is occurring
If you would like to see a copy of the form, you can go to Google Drive to get a copy HERE (It looks funny when you view it, but if you download it as a Word document, it is ready to edit). It is important to recognize that the form is simply a list of names and a behavior code. Nothing special. I've chosen to track the behaviors identified on my form. You might need to track others. Sixth graders tend to throw pencil top erasers in September (I don't know why). They usually stop throwing things in November (I don't know why). But "throwing objects" is on there because it happens in my room. Your code might include other infractions.



From the first minute of the first day that clipboard is in my hand. I show it to them. I show them their names (before there are any marks). I show them the key at the bottom of the page. I show them how I mark the occurrence of incorrect behavior choices. Originally, I will say, "I'm sorry that I will need to record a 'CO' for those who are calling out. In our room, there are lots of times when it is okay to talk without raising your hand--but if I am talking, or explaining something, or giving directions, it is not respectful to make comments or call out answers." Especially at the beginning of school, I try to explain WHY certain behaviors are not acceptable. And I encourage them to choose to do the right thing--for them and for their classmates.


The clipboard is always covered. The actual marks are not visible, although when I confer with a student, I will sometimes show them their data (keeping the marks for other students covered). In this way, I try to help students make sense of their choices and to "see" what I see from my side of the classroom.

So after a day, the clipboard may look like this..



Yellow cards are like the warning cards in a soccer game. I consider this "Phase Two." At some point, some students need a tangible reminder that their actions have been noticed...

During the first few weeks, I really try not to go to "Phase Two," but sooner or later, it happens. If a student cannot get his behavior under control, I will show him/her the marks on the clipboard at the end of the day (and, likely, I have been providing warnings and opportunities throughout the day). The first time that the student exceeds three reminders in a day, he needs to take home a yellow card for a parent signature. I explain that the first card is a warning. And I tell him that this first card will be put in his behavior folder, but the next time, the card will need to be taken home.


I included a link to a very simple card HERE. Again, they look very weird when you "view" them, but if you download them (It's a PowerPoint document), they look "normal." No doubt you would need to change the wording significantly to match your classroom expectations and rules. I run them off on yellow cardstock so they are easy to see and harder to lose. And some kids just appreciate that soccer analogy!

And, yes, I do have many uninvolved parents. Many sign the cards without caring. Sometimes I have to send duplicate cards home. But some do care and that makes my job easier. And, over the years, I have noticed other things...

1. Some kids really DON'T know how often they demonstrate inappropriate behaviors. This system helps them to know. In fact, for some kids, I pair this with a clip system and ask THEM to keep track of how often they are out of their chair (or any behavior) and I ask them to put a paper clip on an index card every time the behavior occurs. I've had some kids say: I was off task eight times today. Do you think that's too many?" {Yep!} I will then ask the student what I need to do to help her change the behavior that she is working on.

2. I expect every parent to come to a conference for the first report card. I have made home visits, met in coffee shops, etc., but that first face-to-face meeting is critical. When I bring out a handful of behavior cards (some with forged signatures!) even my most disinterested parents raise an eyebrow. That little bit of buy-in helps set kids on the right track--at least for a little while.

3. More than anything, kids need to know that I KNOW what they are doing --and that I expect them to get better. I don't expect them to be perfect, but I expect them to improve. I often write a note on the back of the card (okay, it is hastily scribbled because I am usually writing as we are walking out the door at the end of the day).


This is not the only system I use. And the majority of my behavior management is done through routines, plenty of modeling and directions, and clear expectations (and those Behavior Reports). However, in an educational system where data collection is critical, this provides me an ongoing record with very little effort. I keep all of the daily behavior records (for the year!) in a binder, so I have the data at my fingertips. And, because there is a key at the bottom, it also an easy record-keeping system for substitute teachers, push-in teachers and student teachers to follow. Further, when we are all using the same systems, students don't need to guess which teacher uses which system in our classroom.

After a while, this becomes a system that runs itself. When the kids walk through the door, I am often holding the clipboard. This is a cue to enter quietly and get ready to work. I don't even have to ask any more. When the noise level gets too loud, I will ring the chimes. If the noise continues, I reach for the clipboard... and most students recognize that I am scanning for correct behavior and noting those who have needed too many reminders. Usually, behavior improves before I even find a pencil.

I don't want you to think I spend all day looking for infractions and being an inflexible tyrant. We do a lot of laughing in our classroom. And there are many positive elements of my behavior management program as well. We celebrate almost anything! And I make "happy calls" and send home "happy notes" when possible so that students (and parents) know that our goal is recognize accomplishments and successes.

Classroom management is a very personal thing. Perhaps you found an element of this system that might work for you. Or, perhaps, this post validated that what you are already doing in your classroom is absolutely "just right" for you. In any case, I am wishing you a new school year filled with a minimum of behavioral issues and plenty of joyful teaching moments!





16 comments :

  1. As a a parent, I would LOVE this.

    Thanks for sharing
    Elizabeth
    Hodges Herald

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    1. Elizabeth... That's because you're a good parent AND a good teacher!
      :)

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  2. I love your system of classroom management!

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    1. Thanks, Lana! It has been working well with my sixth graders...
      :)

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  3. LOVE THIS! We are actually doing something similar across our departmentalized program in 4th/5th/6th grade this year. Ours is slightly different, but I might be incorporating your yellow cards if we need them. Thank you! :)
    ~HoJo~

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    1. HoJo! How fun to see you here! Good luck with your new year...
      :)

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  4. This reminds me very much of the Kickboard system my school used last year, except that it's not electronic. I've debated how I will continue to track this behavior without the website in a new school, and I don't have a solution yet. It's easier for ME to have a running record of the class like you show here, but I think it's more useful for parents if each student has his or her own page where all behaviors are compiled. Do you keep that information elsewhere?

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    1. In yesterday's post, I talked about the daily behavior report that goes home to parents...
      :)

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  5. You are absolutely amazing and caring.
    I wish you were a teacher at my school.
    I just love you!!!!!!!!!!

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    1. Right back atcha, my pal, Kristin!
      :)

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  6. This sounds like a GREAT system.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Anisa @ Creative Undertakings

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    1. You're welcome. Anisa. Thanks for stopping by...
      :)

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  7. Thanks for posting this idea. I've been wanting to tweak my behaviour management system all summer, but haven't been sure how to go about the change. I have been using a simple "Yikes" board where the student gets a check next to his/her name on the board when a behaviour infraction occurs but I dislike this system because a) the names are visible for everyone to see, b) I have no record on paper, and c) we don't always remember what each infraction was for so it's difficult to get the students to reflect. I might try this and see how it works with my 6th graders. It just seems like a lot of paper to photocopy since it's one chart per day...laminating it and using a dry erase marker would defeat the purpose of a paper trail. Hmm...I'll have to think about this one!

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    1. Hi Stephanie! I've thought about that, but decided not to worry about it any more because it is, for me at least, less than 200 copies for the whole year. Good luck with your new year...
      :)

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  8. This is so great! We are thinking about ways to adapt this for our 7th and 8th grade classrooms! Thanks for sharing :)

    Mrs. K & Ms. H

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  9. Hi Kim,

    This is a great idea! I am teaching 6th grade this year (I'm a 1st grade teacher at heart) and really like your idea of the clipboard! I do have one question.. what is the purpose of the columns before and after the students' names?

    Thanks!
    Rachel

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