Saturday, August 17, 2013

Day 18... The BEST Behavior Management System I've EVER Used...

After twenty five years, I (foolishly) thought there were few "new" management tips that I could learn in order to keep my classroom running smoothly. And then, five years ago, I spent a day with one of "newer" teachers at my school site, and I discovered there were lots of new things I could add to my repertoire.

I learned more in that one day than I had in several years. Although she was new to sixth grade, her classroom was video-worthy. Everything was organized. The students were engaged and learning. And her room ran like clockwork.

There were many reasons why things worked so well in her classroom. I think one of the reasons for her success was her behavior management system.

I love my Moo and Puppy Graphics and Hello Literacy/Jen Jones fonts!
Of course, being a relatively smart teacher who knew a good thing when she saw it, I quickly "borrowed" her system and implemented it the next week. And the results were so surprising that I am STILL using this process (five years later) in my classroom!

Here's what's great about this system: You can easily tailor it to fit your own classroom. I'll show you the forms and then suggest some modifications.

Here is a kid's "Behavior Report" from my room last October. Her writing is in pencil. Mine is the red pen.

The blank form looks like this:

Once the kids have gotten used to using the form (usually by November), I change the vocabulary to include more sophisticated words... WOW. A behavior system that lets you manage behavior and teach "shades of meaning"? WooHoo! That IS good!

If you are interested in downloading the form, click either of the pictures above to take you to  Google Drive.  The form are completely editable. Change the font. Change the words. Add or delete components... whatever works for you and your class!

At the end of each day in my classroom, the Behavior Reports are passed out (yep, another post for that system!), and the students take two minutes to reflect of their day. Initially, they write very little. I continue to stress the "evidence" component and, over time, they add more detail. And they reflect more. And in many cases, they become more honest.

I tell the students from the start of the year: MY goal isn't isn't to get you IN trouble, my goal is to keep you OUT of trouble. I try to celebrate honesty and integrity as soon as I see it. At the same time, if something less-than-delightful happens during the day, I may whisper: "Don't forget to include this choice when you reflect on your Behavior Report. It's the consistency that makes the system work and the value of trying to get back on the right track when bad decisions have been getting in the way of learning.

Last year I had a student who began the year with a legacy of inappropriate behavior. It seemed likely that this child would forever be doing the wrong thing in the wrong place at the wrong time. Worst of all, he would rarely own up to anything and his most likely response was a wide-eyed expression followed by "I didn't do it."  One day, around December (with no obvious precursor), he asked," Can I talk to you outside?" (I try diligently to keep behavior matters private and my students and I sometimes have hushed conversations in the "doorway" where I can still keep an eye on the class but the student is out of view of his/her peers and out of earshot).

With some trepidation, I stepped outside, Before I could even focus on the conversation, this BIG kid started crying BIG tears and said, "I made a bad choice..." To my astonishment, he listed a lengthy and assorted combination of infractions and added, "I'm going to try and do better." I was truly stunned. To this day, I don't know what sparked that change o heart. I think, it was due, in part, to reflecting about his choices each day on that Behavior Report...

The form can be used with varying degrees of involvement by the teacher. It can be used simply for student reflection with the teacher leaving a note in the comment section only if there is necessary information to be shared with parents.

In my room, I try to comment daily. It is interesting to see how my reflections differ from the students'. The majority of the time, kids are harder on themselves than I am on them. My students seem to have appreciated the few words (or a smiley face) that I add each day. When I am really trying to "connect" with a student, I may write more, but that adds to the time it takes to complete the process.

I am now to the point where I can review thirty-four Behavior Reports in less than fifteen minutes. It's a great thing to do when you are waiting for a meeting to start or when you are not yet motivated to grade other papers! Some teachers only comment once--right before they send the note home.

The kids take their reports home on Monday because I need to comment on Friday's behavior after they leave. The reports are part of the homework that is due on Tuesday. Some teachers can get that done Friday and send it home then so that the students start with a clean slate on Monday. I am not that organized!

And, by the way, I really do run these off on purple paper. It makes them easy to find in the sea of paper that always floods my room. I can get two on each sheet, and I run off plenty in advance so they are always ready in the basket.

With some classes, I have been able to fade the form out of use. With other classes, it was necessary to use the form all the way until June.

One thing I love about this system: You get a chance to celebrate those kids who are consistently doing the RIGHT thing. It's easy to add kudos on the form when that lovely row of smiley faces fills the column on the left.

In middle school, this form can be used with a student or two who are in need of more intensive behavior support, almost like a behavior contract. You could also use it "whole class" in the beginning of the year if things are difficult--and then fade it quickly when the behavior was under control. I probably wouldn't send it home it in this situation (or, even add my own reflections) unless there were some students who needed that home-to-school contact. (With more than 36 kids in a day, I would be tearing my hair out long before I had a chance to think about Behavior Reports! Hats off to middle school folks!) Still, for a student in need of reflection (or documentation), it might have some merit.

 So here is what I think is great about the form:
  • It allows for self reflection
  • It helps students be accountable
  • It allows the students to get feedback from the teacher
  • It is easy to show progress (or lack thereof)
  • It allows you to celebrate GOOD behavior
  • It is documentation when things go awry
  • It can go home for a parent signature, so parents are kept in the loop
  • It provides a visual record to "see" behavior over the course of a week

 There are LOTS of variations...
  • My friend also keeps track of tardies and missed assignments on her form
  • The teacher can add input at the end of the "cycle"--or not at at all
  • It doesn't need to be sent home, but can still be kept as documentation
  • Vocabulary can be modified to match other behavior systems in place
  • The form can be made wordless: Substitute Smiley faces instead of the words
  • You can change it u any way you like!
Sometimes, when we have "all" had a bad week, I don't send the reports home  (I just put it in their folders and say something like "We all need to have a better week next week--including me!")
Once, I filled out a Report for my behavior for a week. The students loved watching me try find words to describe my struggles and successes.

Behavior Reports are a part of my overall classroom management program. Tomorrow I will re-visit "the purple clipboard" and the "yellow cards" that I use. I have had a few requests for the form so that will be included too.

I didn't invent this system, but I am so glad that it is part of my classroom now. I am grateful to my teaching buddy who shared it with me and who has taught me (and continues to teach me!) so much!

Sorry for such a lengthy commentary. Classroom management can make or break a school year. I am passionate about finding ways for students to improve their choice-making and I love a chance to celebrate improvement... even the littlest step in the right direction makes my heart happy.

I'm not back in school yet, but typing this post has made me anxious to go back and meet my new friends!


  1. I teach middle school, and I absolutely LOVE this! I think this is so good because it forces students to be responsible for their own actions. I think I am going to try a modified version with my middle schoolers. Thanks for sharing! :)

    1. Well, that makes my day, Heather! I truly hope it leads to good results for you. Thanks SO MUCH for the comment!

  2. I would love to implement this but we already have a behavior chart that they keep in their homework book and it gets signed once a week. For the kids who are chronic behavior problems this does not seem to work because they only have a clean sate at the start of each trimester. Any suggestions for how I could implement this with our behavior chart?

  3. Thanks for that amazing description of what sounds like a very successful classroom management technique! I'm going into my last year of college, which is the student teaching year, and I'm definitely a little worried about my classroom management, but I think this could help a lot!

    Pili :)
    Glitter and Gradebooks

  4. This is a simple, clean, and right to the point form! SO easy to use. I think I am going to add this in with my system I already have!

    Thanks so much!
    Tonya’s Treats for Teachers

  5. I like this! I'm going to use this this year! Thanx for sharing! :)

  6. This sounds awesome... trying to figure out how I can make it work for my school- I have over 120 students! I'll let you know how it goes!

    Floating Through Fifth

  7. WoW is right ... this is so inspirational. And I LOVE that the big boy cried ... happy tears, no doubt, because you'd given him the gift of hope. And healing. Thank you for this comprehensive post and chance for reflection; I've pinned it for others to see and try!


  8. Just reading this now, Kim. I really like that the kids reflect on their own behavior and that it's positive. With 75-80 kids, I'd never be able to keep up if everyone used it. But I like that there's room for kids to assess themselves. Usually they're pretty accurate!

  9. Oh man, this is awesome.

    I taught elementary and I had kids sign a binder after countless warnings, etc. It made them think.

    I like your version :)

    Anisa @ Creative Undertakings


Thanks for reading this post. Comments bring me JOY! Please share your thoughts and join the conversation...