Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Ditch the Behavior Cards

This post is for the teachers who read Mr. Kindergarten. If you're a parent, and you see a behavior chart like the one in the photo below in your child's classroom, perhaps you might consider sharing the article linked below with your child's teacher.

There is a common behavior management tool called variously the stoplight or the "card" system. In classrooms where it is used every kid starts out on "green" in the morning indicating everything's good. If the teacher sees misbehavior she will remove the green card to reveal a yellow card as a "warning" (a threat, really) that further misbehavior will result in some form of punishment.  When/if the yellow card is pulled, the red card behind it lets everyone in class knows that a "consequence" will happen. The so-called "consequence" is really some form of tangible punishment, often enlisting the parent to remove some privilege at home. Systems like these are very common.

When I began teaching more than three decades ago, I used similar, but less elaborate systems. In my case, I used to write names on the board and, with each warning, put checkmarks near the name. When two checks appeared, the punishment—whatever I decided it would be—would follow. I'm pretty sure I called my punishments consequences. It took me too long to see how wrong my practice was.

Like the author, I finally looked deeply into what I was doing and saw the harm I was doing.  Here's a quote from the article I recommend:

As a first year teacher, I remember ‘writing names on the board.’  That’s what I was told to do, and that’s what my teachers did when I was in school.  But then I started paying attention to the hurt, the shame, the frustration, and even the apathy in the eyes of those students whose names appeared in chalk day after day.  They were six and seven years old, and I knew they deserved better.

Students who cannot control their behavior need the teacher's support and compassion. They do NOT need public humiliation.

The alternative to behavior cards is simple but not easy. Activate your compassion by putting yourself is his shoes, talk privately with him and offer extra support for children whose behavior is an issue. Be the teacher you'd wish for if you were a kid with trouble controlling your behavior.

Read the whole article GERMANTOWN AVE PARENTS.

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