So during the 2014-2015 school-year, I decided not to have a formalized behavior system for my classroom. I read several blog posts from teachers who no longer use a punishment/reward system for their students. My first thought was, they have to be crazy. Their classroom must be chaotic, and their students can't really be learning. What I discovered was the exact opposite.
Kimberly - iWrite in Maine Moving Past Behavior Charts
Miss Night's Marbles Too High a Price: Why I don't do Behaviour Charts
Teaching in Progress Why I Will Never Use a Behavior Chart Again
At the start of this year, I spent many sleepless nights trying to decide what to do. A new set of students were on their way to join our Fourth Grade Team. I started reading and researching what management system I could implement for the new school year. Then, I realized that I was setting low expectations for my new group of students. My final decision, no formalized behavior system. Believe me, it wasn't an easy decision.
I started thinking, that as educators we may not receive a paycheck some months for our own behaviors. Our cards may be turned to red before the afternoon begins. Our parents may receive daily emails about our classroom behaviors. Our name may be written on the board with checkmarks next to it, and our sticks may get pulled.
Yes, I have talked to colleagues during staff meetings, when I should have been listening.
I have missed deadlines for turning in surveys and paperwork that I was given reminders for from administrators.
I left materials at home that I needed for the school day.
I have blurted out when I should of kept quiet.
Yes, I have rolled my eyes and complained while attending PD that I felt was worthless.
I talk in the hallway to staff members and students when we have a zero voice policy.
At times, I forget to shut off my phone and it rings/buzzes during class instruction.
Hmm, my list can continue on and on.
As we embark upon our seventh week of school, it is one of the best decisions I have made in my teaching career. It is about the relationship we establish with each of our students not the management system. One size doesn't fit all. As educators we know, the first weeks set the tone for the entire school year. I need to set the bar high and believe in each student in my classroom. Was I hesitant and worried, absolutely. From day one, my fourth graders wanted to know if they would be earning points. I totally understood. For as long as I can remember I used a some type of reward system. My question to them, points for what? I had lots of responses from my fourth graders with puzzled looks on their faces. You know, Mrs. Evon! What do we get if we get our work done? What if I am working quietly? What if I help my friend? What if I forget my homework, what will happen? Our conversation was truly eye-opening. My response, you are role models and leaders! As fourth graders you will be an example for others at school.
I know I need to take time each day to truly listen to my students, even when I have a lot of curriculum to cover. Our students need to know we care, and they truly matter. Do I have days that are more challenging than others, absolutely. Do I have to count to ten at times before I respond or have a private meeting with a student, yes. There are nights when I go home and wonder if I am making a difference. Teaching has changed over the years, but one thing hasn't. Our students need to know that we believe in them and their full potential! Wish I would have done this sooner. Rita Pierson sums it up perfectly.