This post is part of a multi-part series about running a classroom without using a publicly-posted behaviour chart system. All of the other posts in the series can be found here.
At least two thirds of the questions I get when I talk about getting rid of behaviour charts involve a variation of the following:
But Amy, my administrator/board requires us to have a behaviour management system…. WHAT DO I DO?!?
My friends, I have answers for this, but first, a confession: I have never been in that situation, have never had an administrator who required such a thing (and I am grateful for this good fortune EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.). HOWEVER: My friend Kimberley over at Books First in Maine has successfully nagivated a school setting where a publicly posted chart was mandatory in every classroom, and she generously allowed me to share her story here. Please check it out.
My other recommendations:
- So What’s my Problem with Public Behavior Charts? by the brilliant Pernille Ripp
- Why I Will Never Use a Behavior Chart Again, by Nikki Sabiston
- Lots more great stuff at Beyond the Stoplight
- The book Punished By Rewards, by Alfie Kohn, is a great read, and gives a far deeper explanation of why rewards and reward-based systems are bad for kids.
2. Share what you plan to do instead. Show that you have a plan, a toolkit, a bank of strategies to manage your classroom consistently, calmly, and thoroughly. Share what your expectations will be, how you plan to communicate those expectations to your students, and how you will respond when students do not fulfill these expectations.
- This is my post on what I do instead.
- This is Pernille Ripp’s post on what she does instead.
- This is my friend Matt B Gomez’s post about his reward-free classroom.
- The links share in point 1 also share some great examples of what to do INSTEAD of having a behavior chart.
3. Ask for approval to do a trial (call it a pilot project, sometimes that expression helps get admins on board with new stuff). Have a plan in place to document how NOT having a chart is affecting your students and your classroom community. Be ready to take lots of anecdotal notes if necessary, and to provide your admins with frequent reports about your “experiment.”
4. If this will not fly, ask for a compromise: can you have a chart or a system, but not post it publicly? Can you keep it in a binder or in a drawer, or somewhere out of sight where each student knows where he or she stands, but it is not posted for all to see, and the elements of shame and humiliation are lessened? (This also allows you to gradually phase out chart use for the students who don’t need it, and to really individualize your expectations for the kiddos who struggle.)
5. Finally, if all of this does not work, and the verdict is that you absolutely, positively, MUST have a publicly posted “system” to “manage behaviour” consider a model like the one Sally Haughey, over at Fairy Dust Teaching, suggests: No More Green Light, Yellow Light, Red Light Behavior Management Plan! I love Sally’s emphasis on safety and care, rather than compliance and shame, and that the teacher’s role is to help and protect the students rather than judge or punish them.
I apologize for the delay on this installment, my friends – I’m on vacation in a teeny tiny town that holds my whole heart, and loving every minute of it.
Up next: how to handle parent communication without the chart. Stay tuned, and if you are finding this series helpful, please share it far and wide!