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Whole Class Classroom Management

I have a new, well maybe not new for you, classroom management thought process to share with you.  In all of my 7 years in education, I’ve had the opportunity and privilege to spend many of my days inside the classrooms of phenomenal teachers!  I used to say I had the best job ever because I could sit and watch great teachers, steal their ideas, and then share them with others.  It’s also given me the opportunity to reflect and analyze what makes one teacher more effective than others.

Classroom management is a crucial part of that puzzle.  Throughout the years I’ve developed a mindset that’s different from many people.  I don’t love large, posted individual behavior charts.  I’m talking the green/yellow/red cards or the clip charts that so many teachers use.  I know a lot of people love and believe in them.  And hear me out before you start throwing lemons and shoes at me.

Do you think your chart changes a student’s behavior?  The thing is, I don’t really feel like it does.  You either have a student who just had a rough few minutes and needs a reminder of some kind (but does that reminder need to be publicly posted for the world to see).  Or you have a friend who is going to spend the entire school year trying your ever last loving nerve.  In my experience there isn’t a whole ton of kids in the middle. They’re either fantastic, slip up sparingly, or are habitual offenders.  I don’t think those habitual offenders are fazed by a color change.  Sure, they may certainly be scared of their mama and don’t want to get to that point, but it’s their mama that’s scaring them and not the color itself.  I have utilized ClassDojo with success, but I don’t display the points all day long.  Instead, students check in once before lunch and at the end of the day when they pack up and record their points.

So, in my classroom, I do things a little differently.  I have the group work together towards one goal (and then set up small group goals and individual plans as needed).  This is similar to a marble jar that a lot of people use, or brownie points that others use.  Basically, any way to reward the class as a whole.  This helps keep students accountable for themselves and help nudge them towards encouraging their friends to do the right thing.

So here’s the way it works:
Every time the class earns a compliment, I choose a student who helped the class earn the reward to choose a letter from the basket. The white letters are permanently mounted on the board so that students see what they’re working for and how far they have to go.  If the student draws a letter there’s only one of, easy peasy, we put it up.  If they choose something there’s a duplicate of (like the “c”) then they have some strategy to work out- with encouragement from others.  Do they put the c in dance so that they get the reward sooner?  Do the put the C in choice because they’d rather earn free choice time instead?  It helps build critical thinking because they have to analyze the outcome to determine which way they’re going to go (we talk about this as a group in the building).  They have to listen to peer pressure and decide if they’re following their own thoughts or going with the group.  There’s so much more, so many lifeskills, than just many other systems.  Plus, everyone needs a brain break off and on and see that carrot dangling in front of them.
If you’d like to download the set I have (I have a blank circle in the zebra and in the white), click on the picture below.




  • How long do you think it will take to fill up the words? I am anticipating a difficult class this year based on their track record from last year. I think I want to do something like this. I hate the "pull a card" system!

    • It really depends on how often they "earn" a chance to pull. So, the first week of school as we're practicing and learning and I'm praising, they're going to probably earn two. Then I'll slowly pull it away so that they don't need that extrinsic reward the entire time. I plan to only have them earn something about once a week or so once we're really in the swing of things.

  • I am with you. I do not believe in the red/yellow/green system or the clip up/down system for many reasons. I really dont like displaying every child's behavior in the class. I feel that these two systems show negative behavior and I won't have that! I also like rewarding the positive behavior that goes above and beyond not what is expected. I like what you did as just having a class behavior plan! I have always been very strong at classroom management and I am tweaking what I am doing this year to make it easier on me and the kids! Be on the lookout for it soon! I can't wait to share it!

    Tonya’s Treats for Teachers

  • I love this COMPLIMENTS chart for the class as a whole. But in regards to the behavior chart system, I do mine differently than the norm and works like a charm. I see behavior modification within 2 weeks. I take the RED, YELLOW and RED cards and move the student directly to RED when they disobey an order twice. There is no if, buts, or ands. But what I give them is a REDEMPTION PLAN. No child likes to be on RED first thing in the morning or even in the afternoon and then have to go home with a color other than green. So, they have to make the conscious choice of making the correct decision in order to move up color back to green. DONE! The child never has to home with a RED or YELLOW because they will learn to make correct decisions.

    • I appreciate you giving students an opportunity to redeem themselves and understand that it works for you. I just don't feel it's something that needs to be publicly displayed.

  • I totally agree. I refuse to write names, add checks… I think I was scared in 1st grade. We had this pocket chart. Each child had a gingerbread cookie… It stayed like that if ou were good… If you were not following rules, you had to flip it around. The other end had a wolf! I thought it was scary! Love your "peace and quiet.". And "ducks in the pond" is way better than "criss-cross applesauce.". Any tips for getting to work without talking right from the start?? Had such a chatty group this year.


    • That would have scared me too!

      For talking, I guess I'd probably remind students of what their expected behavior is and have them try it again. Hopefully, the continued practice will drive them crazy enough that they'll do it on their own from the start.

  • I love this! I did the stoplight system religiously for 6 years, then moved to the clip chart this past year. I'm thinking of throwing that out the window now! Luckily, I supposed to have a pretty small class next year, so it might be nice to try something new that is out of my comfort level. Thanks for telling us about this alternative!
    Teaching With Style
    Whole Brain Teaching With Style

  • You give good reasoning here. I've been doing some hard core thinking on this. I changed to the clip chart this last year and really liked it because I was able to show the students that are usually always with it that I see and acknowledge that. On the flip side, those that moved in the other direction, I always told them that can fix how their day with me ends even at the last minute. They don't know this, but I'm secretly watching them to make a sincere change. If they make it (and you usually know if they have) I let them move back up and tell them how I saw them fix it. It really helped my kiddos a lot. I also have my clip chart off to the side, not in plain view to the whole room. So that helps with discretion. But it's been a while since I've done a whole group incentive thing like this. You really got me thinking on this. We'll just have to see where this thinking moves me to. 🙂 Thank you! 🙂
    Mrs. Landry's Land of Learning

  • I am moving to 4 th from pre- k so will be needing to do things a little differently, will have 2 Reading/ ss groups so need to keep thst in mind as I tweak for next year, I am thinking of a competition between classes of some sort

  • Thanks for idea. I was going to do Mystery Walker this year. And if that person made it all day I was trying to figure out something besides a treat. I think being able to draw a letter for whole class reward is a good idea.

  • The public displays always bothered me as a mom and as a teacher. One of my son’s teacher had an Oops chart with everyone’s name. If they did something wrong they had to go up to the chart and put and x by their name. So not only was it publicly humiliating at the time, the chart stayed up there for the whole marking period. Some kids had to put x’s off in the margins because they had already filled up the space by their name. Kids like that won’t improve–they will just give up. My son would tell me, “Why should I try when I can’t do anything right anyway?” Conversations with this teacher(who was also a colleague–so I had to tread lightly) about positive reinforcement working better with my son went nowhere. Please think about the public displays–esp with your ADHD kids or kids with other special needs. I think this management idea is a great way to reward both the class and the individual student, and build a sense of community. Thanks for sharing this!


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