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December 5, 2016

The Scoop on Behavior Management

Written By: Brandi Jordan
Originally Published On: July 22, 2010
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The Basics of Behavior Management

Behavior management is one of those areas in education where some teachers struggle and others excel. What many new teachers are never told, is that behavior management can vary from year to year, from class to class and even from student to student. There are some methods that can be applied consistently, but behavior management really comes down to knowing your students and setting firm limits.

The Basics of Behavior Management

Day One

If you do not start with firm and consistent rules from the first moment of the first day of school, you will find that you have to work at least twice as hard to gain control. That does not mean that you should rule with an iron fist or be a tyrant. What it does mean, however, is that when you set clear expectations for classroom behavior on the first day, there is less chance of confusion about what is expected. Do not wait until the end of the first week or even the second day of school to start setting guidelines. Do it immediately.  If the first day of school has already gone by, start fresh on a Monday and plan accordingly.

 

Clear Consequences

Another area where some teachers falter is with setting clear consequences for misbehavior. In clear, concise terms, outline your disciplinary process. Will students be removed to a quiet area at the first offense? Will recess be spent indoors? When will a note be sent home? Make sure students know exactly what will happen, why, and when.

 

Involve Parents

Make parents your biggest allies. Send home a note or email on the first day (or even at Meet the Teacher night before school starts!), with the classroom behavior expectations and the clearly defined consequences. Have parents and students sign and return it to you. This ensures that everyone is on the same page and is expecting the same behavior. There is then full knowledge of the consequences should that behavior not happen.

 

Be Fair and Consistent

While being fair and consistent may seem like an easy task, one slip and the behavior management system you set in place can be ruined. It is important to note that fair does not always mean equal. Children with learning disabilities and processing disorders, for example, may need extra time to formulate answers or ask questions. Their delay in answering or an incorrect answer that prompts the class to laugh may not actually be an intent to disrupt, but the way in which they process the question.

Don’t Forget to Love Them

For all of the rules and consequences that are essential for behavior management, the most important thing you can do for your class is to love your students. Love the “good” ones who are well-mannered and the “challenging” ones who test your every limit. When your students know that you care about them, that you cherish them, and that you are invested in their success, behavior management issues decrease. They will want to please you as much, if not more, as you want to teach them.

By having immediate rules, being clear and concise with consequences, involving parents, being fair and consistent, and having genuine affection for your students, the behavior management issues in your class will not impede your ability to teach. Students will be more on-task, more involved and more responsible for their own behavior. Behavior management is not about being a disciplinarian or having total control; it is about setting limits and boundaries that will enable children to learn and succeed in the classroom.

Mastering the Basics of Behavior Management in the Classroom - ReallyGoodTeachers.com

What are some of your behavior management tips and tricks?  Share them below or on the forums!

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16 Comments.
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  • Sharon M
    July 25, 2010

    I use the “Clip Chart” by Rick Morris. It is similar to the traffic light. Everyone starts on green each day and they can move up or down. I have red for “Outstanding”, orange for “Great Day” and yellow for “Good Job” above green so they can get a positive. I have blue for “warning”, purple for “Teacher’s Choice” (since consequences are different for students or times of the year so I can choose) and black for “Parent Contact” below green. They can move from the lower colors if they make better choices. They still get the consequence but they at least can go up. This way students don’t give up after moving down a color. I want them to make better choices after making a bad one. It worked great last year and I am going to do it again this year. I made the chart last year and this year I bought it for $20. It is a good system.

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  • Melissa Fail
    July 25, 2010

    I always start the year with concise rules and consequenses. All the children “believe”they helped make the class rules, so they do buy into them more. Everyone signs their name to the rules so that there is ownership. I also have the parents sign a letter home that they know the rules so that there is no confusion if I call home about behavior. I teach in an area that is rough, but I do have control of my room and the kids excel because of it.

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  • Jen
    July 23, 2010

    As a new teacher, behavior management was something I really stressed over before starting the school year. I didn’t want to be the “mean” teacher, but of course, I didn’t want to have a classroom without order, rules, or consequences. I realized that I’ve made the mistake of being too lenient. I used to use a four color traffic light type system – green, yellow, red, then purple. I’d move kids to yellow, but wouldn’t follow through on the consequences. I’d move kids to red, and let them redeem themselves and move back to yellow or even green. And, I never have used purple. I’m sure there were plenty of times I could have used it (especially this past school year), but I didn’t. Reflecting back on it, I think I didn’t use it because the consequences were too severe. There weren’t any warnings involved with the system, other than the numerous verbal warnings I would give. I also started to feel bad, because it was the same kids moving colors everyday. The other kids were going home and telling their parents, “So and so are the bad kids.” I don’t like labeling kids as bad. I tell my students that there aren’t any bad kids, but that sometimes people make choices that just aren’t the best.

    This year, I’m making some changes. I’d like to use the colored card system, but I’d have to find a behavior management pocket chart that I can afford, or make one. I’d like to have green (great day), yellow(warning), red(consequence #1), blue (consequene#2), and purple (consequence #3) cards. I’m also going to include a behavior report/calendar in the kids’ homework folders. I think this will keep the kids’ acountable for their behaviors and it might be an added incentive for good behavior since they will record their behavior on the calendar daily. Reading posts here has been very helpful in planning my new behavior plan. I am looking forward to the start of this year.

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  • Charla
    July 22, 2010

    I use a card system that works well for most of my students. I have green, yellow, red, and black cards. All students start the day on green. Each card pull results in a different consequence. I also reward students to who follow classroom and school rules by awarding purple cards when I catch a child being good. They then get to put purple cards in front of their green cards and get to drop their names in a “Purple Card Box.” At the end of the week I pull one name from the box and this student gets a special prize. It is amazing how saying, “I wonder who should have a purple card,” can get the entire class in line in no time. For those students who are constantly on black, I use an individual system. It is very similar to one being sold this year in the Really Good Stuff catalog. I use a schedule, picture cards, and an individual set of colored cards for each part of the day. The goal is to see how many green cards the child can keep by the end of the day in the different time slots. Each transition is a chance to start over. It works well with my kindergarten students.

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  • Cindy Berenter
    July 22, 2010

    That was a great video; very informative with regards to working with LD students and reducing disruptions. Thanks for sharing that with the article!

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  • Andrea C.
    July 22, 2010

    Interesting ideas! It’s time to get management systems in place, as school days are fast approaching in Texas. Thanks for the article!

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  • Jeannette Erickson
    July 22, 2010

    And some years it’s more challenging than other years! One technique that my students seem to love is “oops” and “wow” boxes. On my dry erase board, I have 2 taped boxes, one saying “oops”, the other is “wow”. Students write their names in the boxes as appropriate. What makes this powerful is how fluid it is–names can be erased and added easily as students make more appropriate behavioral choices, or not. At the end of the day, consequences/rewards are given. Every morning all names are erased and everyone gets a new start.

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  • Erika McClure
    July 22, 2010

    We use the green, yellow, red light system too, but we have also added a white, under green and a purple above green. The white is just a verbal warning that you are heading down the wrong path, and you need to change the behavior before you have to move to yellow and suffer the “yellow” consequence. And the purple is for an amazing student that is on green, but does something extraordinary. Moving to purple is a real treat!
    Also, I allow students to earn the chance to move their color back up toward green. This way students don’t give up on making good choices once their color has been changed. It seems to help the students realize that just because they made some bad choices doesn’t mean they have to continue to make them.

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  • Cheryl s
    July 22, 2010

    I love using the traffic light at the beginning of the year so they can see how their behavior makes their clip move! Then I move to individual things for students who need it. When I taught second grade I used a behavior contract with ten rules! Each tome they broke a rule they got a tally mark and I would say the rule! If they get three tally marks, they got a phone call home at either my planning time or at the end of the day. It was very effective because the parents signed it and knew the rules and the students knee I would call! The children with great behavior got rewards that started daily and moved to weekly and by December we were at monthly rewards! Once I started it, it became my most effective management tool! I may even modify it for kindergarten with five rules!!

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  • Jessica Berggren
    July 22, 2010

    I agree with everything. Every year your kids are different, so they respond differently. But, it should not change the high expectations we have. When the kids know what you want, it makes it easier for them to do it. I am so glad you said LOVE your students. Kids are great lie detectors, they know when you’re being authentic and when it’s being put on. Authentic praise is the most effective and most saught after.. Thanks for another great article.

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  • janine
    July 22, 2010

    In my classroom, we use the color system. I have a monthly chart and each day I fill in green, yellow, or red dots. There are three catatories: attitude, behavior, and community. I received the idea at a Donna Whyte workshop. It has been very successful. Each day the children start fresh, all on green, and the goal is to stay on green. Also, parents know what kind of a day their child has had. If the child has a yellow or red, I write the behaviors on the chart or make a phone call to explain to the parents what happened that day. It works great! Thanks for the reminders in this article.

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  • Barb J
    July 22, 2010

    This is such a great reminder of the need to establish classroom rules and a classroom culture right from the start. It can be such a challenge to have to back track to se the rules, and definitely worth discussing on day one. I do like the stop light chart for most students, instead of just the “flip a card” method that so many teachers use.

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  • Penny
    July 22, 2010

    It really helps to have the students help set up rules and consequences. We brainstorm together everything we don’t want to have happen in our room. Then put them into categories. We then label the categories with positive statements and those 3 -4 statements become our Essential Agreements. All of us sign them and they get referred back to throughout the year.

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  • Margaret Herlihy
    July 22, 2010

    My suggestion along with being consistent, keep it simple. I teach first and know if I have too many steps and various consquences, it is diffcult to follow. I have always had three general rules, and the consequences are consisitent.

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  • Jolanda Foreman
    July 22, 2010

    Being a kindergarten teacher an established behavior mangagement system is make it or break it for the classroom. I use a color coded card system where students pull their card when need be. The color that they end the day with is put in their daily take home agenda. As a twist I have the students put thier color in their agenda and if they did something that had them change their color I write a note about what they did and myself and the student sign the note. Later in the year I have them write what they did. I have learned this gives the students ownership of their behavior and teaches them responsibility of themselves and their actions.

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  • Karen
    July 22, 2010

    Do not assume the students know what to do (no matter the grade level). Students need to know what YOUR expectations are and to achieve this you must model the behavior desired. Involve the students in the modeling of the behavior so they see, feel, and hear it. Have them practice the rules or expectations before living them so they are able to experience success.

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