Tuesday, September 3, 2013

All That Shimmers Isn't Gold

Ask me how I feel about behavior charts where students have to do the walk of shame across the room as many sets of eyes focus on them while they go and "flip a card."

Ask me!

Yeah, I hate it. The chart in my opinion based on being an educator since 1994 is that it  makes the assumption, that a child is going to misbehave. That is, even before a child crosses the threshold of the classroom, they are set up for failure.

I had one when I was teaching back in 2001 in 4th grade and I will not ever do that again. Nor will I do points charts where students earn points though others in my school do that. I promise.

I will also not ever do Class Dojo. I admit, I tried it out...I got the app to see what it was like and here are the wonderful things about it.

  • It had Monster like critters that were cute (not scarry).
  • It had lots of colors.
  • It was easy to use. 
  • It had the ability to delete the negative comments with the possibility of focusing in on the positive.
  • It had the ability for parents to look at their child's progress.
  • It had lots of shimmery stars. 


But as Matt Gomez said well, and it can't be said enough, "Why don't you just taser students instead?" Exactly.

Because even when I tried to add the positives and to desperately try to mesh them with the core principles of guided reading or guided math I came up empty.

I tried.
I did my best.
It still stunk.

Why? Because I think that giving out "stars" for good behavior is as bad as sending kids to the walk of shame to pull a card.

Yes, even charts that track positive behavior and even as I tried to rig this one to fit the expectations we hold in our guided math and reading practice are of poor value.

So no more look at me and how awesome I am...(aren't I awesome?) No more walk of shame.

Put yourself in their shoes. Put yourself inside their heart.

It doesn't fit with the #youmatter philosophy that I have grown to love.

So what works? May I suggest the Responsive Classroom concept which is an open and fluid discussion on behavior. Designing I-Charts. Taking the time even in class to review expectations. Taking the time in the middle of a lesson to regroup and review the I-Chart where expectations are listed. It is always best if the I-Chart is designed with the students voice.    One like this:

Behavior Expectations During Reading
Student  / Teacher

You can change the title of any I-Chart ( Expectations on the playground, in Math class, in Science class, in the lunch room, on the school bus...etc).

And when the trials come, because they will, again refer back to the chart, see what was going wrong, and turn the other way...make a better choice.

Sometimes offering a quiet place in the room for reflection is essential. Here is an example of some first grade questions during behavior recovery. This would be sent home.

First Grade Recovery Time Think Sheet

1. I feel:

2. I chose to:
 be loud
 talk out of turn
 ignore direction

3. I could have:
 been more respectful
 been more responsible
 kept our classroom
 more safe

4. Do I need to apologize?
Yes No
So to sum it up, Class Dojo is a NO NO!

And finally, here is a video that I love that goes along with #youmatter and about not giving out scars and stars.

As always, #youmatter!