How to turn around bad classroom behavior

Refocusing bad behavior can be tricky. When a student act out, it is easy to take their actions personally – they are deliberately disobeying me. I find that, because teachers are just like anyone else, bad behavior begins to wear on their patience, just like it would anyone else. Bad behavior in the classroom is distracting for everyone and Is typically a call for attention from the student exhibiting it. For new teachers, it’s difficult to manage when to ignore bad behavior and when/how to acknowledge it.  As always, let’s talk strategies and ways to improve on them.

The use of behavior charts, color charts and behavior mapping seem to be very popular with elementary school teachers at this moment.  I do agree that typically these tools are effective in helping students connect their behaviors with consequences. The effectiveness of them actually encouraging good behavior in the future…meh, I’m still on the fence.

Color charts usually include a pattern of colors associated with a spectrum of behaviors. Students all have some type of badge with their name on it that is placed on a color that describes their current behavior in the classroom.  Example – Green for great behavior, Red for bad behavior. These types of behavior mapping strategies can be helpful for some students, and should be kept simple. Too many options can 1) cause confusing and apathy from students and 2) make it difficult for you, the teacher, to keep up. I encourage teachers who want to use this type of behavior management tool to:

1)      Use 2-3 categories

2)      Be super doper consistent with it

3)      Be the only person in the classroom to modify this chart. (adults only, not student helpers)

4)      Develop several, positively worded ways for students to improve their “ranking” on the chart throughout the school day

I like the idea of having a good behavior rating system that acknowledges students doing the expected thing, the kind, respectful, helpful thing. I recommend using some type of card that is taped to each student’s desk, preferably a laminated index card so it can be used for an entire school year. Throughout the school day, when a student follows an instruction or is caught doing something good a smiley is drawn on their index card. This behavior mapping can be tied to a reward system – classroom helper, extra computer time, whatever works. I’ve found that focusing the behavior mapping strategy on positive behaviors encourages you, as a teacher, to look for these rays of sunshine throughout the day AND encourages students to do what is expected to get this warm attention from you.

Whatever form of intervention you’d like to use in your classroom to help encourage good behavior and discourage bad behavior needs to be simple, measurable, consistent and fair. Looking past the unexpected or “bad” behaviors in your classroom will help 1) you keep your cool and 2) your students who act out to get attention, good or bad, see that their chances of connection with you increase if they show good behavior in your room.

What works in your classroom?