How to Improve Student Behavior in your Classroom
There is no magic behavior management system that works for every student or teacher.
Behavior Management has to be something the teacher is comfortable with or it will never work. You have to be committed to the system.
Your commitment will mean that you will remember to use the system consistently which in turn demonstrates to the students the importance of following the behavior guidelines for the classroom.
These guidelines are established on the first day of school. With the students, create a list of appropriate behaviors and classroom conduct that you and they would like to see in the classroom.
I have found that a behavior management system that rewards or acknowledges appropriate behavior works the best. There have been occasions when I have had to nip
inappropriate behavior in the bud, but this was usually a short lived behavior management issue.
Here are a few of the behavior management techniques I have used. I will begin with the one that I have found most effective.
Relax, no students were harmed in the making of this system.
Each student is given a card that is about the size of a credit card. Their name is written in the center and there are ten boxes surrounding their name. Visit my Teachers Pay Teachers store, Laurie’s Classroom, for a free copy of the Behavior Stamping Cards.
I find that rewarding one student has a positive effect on the other students because they want me to notice their appropriate behavior.
Similarly, when students are misbehaving, instead of calling them out, I call out a student that is behaving appropriately and make a big fuss about that student when I give them their stamp.
Please note that you should find an ink stamp that is difficult for them to purchase. I once used a star stamp and I had some creative/behaviorally challenged students that got their own star stamp and proceeded to give themselves and their friends additional stamps.
If I find that the “Stamping” system is not enough to curb the inappropriate behavior of certain students, I move to the Warning 1-2-3 system in addition to Stamping.
I cut out a large Bristol board square and divide it into four triangles of different colors.
I have a clothes peg with each student’s number on it. You could put their name on it but I prefer not to have the names of students that are misbehaving on display for anyone who comes into my classroom to see.
All students’ pegs begin in the green zone (the behavior I want to see). After one warning for inappropriate behavior they move their peg to light yellow. After a second warning, the student moves their peg to dark yellow.
Warning number three moves their peg to red and they must then fill out a Warning Letter. In this letter (which is available free at my TpT store, Laurie’s Classroom) the student spells out the three inappropriate behaviors and how they will correct their behavior from now on.
They are required to take it home to be signed and returned to school for my records. (Make sure you take a copy of the letter they filled in before you send it home in case it gets lost!)
I found that this worked well for difficult students in two ways. First, they did not want their parents to know that they were misbehaving in school. Second, they did not like having to fill in the letter. I would have them complete the letter immediately after receiving the third warning. This meant they would have more homework because they lost class time writing the letter. If they were not done when the bell went for recess, they needed to complete it before they could go out.
Sometimes a quick fix is simply placing the students’ desk in a place in the classroom where they will not be disturbed or be able to disturb other students. The location could be closer to where the teacher is located or at a table on their own.
At carpet time, they are instructed to sit up front near the teacher or to not sit by certain students. If that does not work, you can take the other students aside and suggest that they do not sit beside a certain student so that they are not influenced to undertake inappropriate actions while they are on the carpet.
This approach is effective for students who have difficulty focusing and staying on task and benefit from step by step instructions. By placing the words First and Then on their desk, you can point to the word “First” and explain one thing they must accomplish. Then point to the word “Then” and give them a quick activity that gives them a break.
Some examples of “Then” activities include asking them to come to me (which gives them a physical movement break) to show me what they’ve completed and to get their next task.
Other “Then” activities include getting a drink of water or walking once around the room. They are simple tasks that gives them a short break and becomes a reward or goal to work towards. Make sure the “First” task is not too long and that it is achievable.
Only give them enough “First” and “Then” tasks that allows them to complete the work in the allotted time with a final fun task as a reward. All my student’s seem to love to draw, so at the beginning of the year each student gets their own drawing book. Students in the First Then system can be allowed to draw in their book as a final “Then” task.
For students that have difficulty remembering the daily routines which can cause them anxiety, putting their daily schedule on their desk can help them to remember what they need to be doing. I tape a clear sheet protector on their desk and slip in that day’s schedule.
This way you can add any changes to the normal day’s routines that are occurring that day and it is a visual cue for the student and for you to point to if he/she begins to exhibit inappropriate behaviors.
At the bottom of the schedule you can write an activity like GET A DRINK, or TAKE A WALK which you could point to when the need arises. This reduces the amount of time you are calling that student out in front of the other students and reduces both your stress and the student’s anxiety.
I have used a system where the table group will receive points or stamps when everyone in the group is on task or is the first group to put away their work, or get their work out ready for the next lesson.
The group that had the most points at the end of the day or week depending on which you choose (sometimes a whole week is too long to get a reward) will get extra computer time, free time or a special treat.
The problems I found with this system is that it sometimes causes the inappropriately behaving students to become ostracized from the group because they are always the ones causing the group not to get points. This can then spill over into playground incidents and shunning of the student. It also meant that I had to remember to give the group their points which I would sometimes forget when I was busy in the classroom!
I once tried a whole class reward system but found it difficult. I would start the week with a few scoops of popcorn kernels in a jar. When the whole class was on task they would get another scoop of popcorn kernels. When they were off task, kernels were removed. At the end of the week I would pop the kernels and the class would get to eat the popcorn at the end of the day.
I found that this caused the same effect as the group rewards in that certain students were constantly the cause of kernels being removed. It also took up my lunch hour popping kernels and it was a little messy because I am always finding kernels on the floor in the classroom.
These are the behavior systems I have tried. I hope they help you out with behavior issues you are experiencing in your classroom or at least give you a place to jump off from (figuratively, not literally).
Please visit my TpT store, Laurie’s Classroom, to check out all of my teaching products and free materials.