Friday, August 16

Meet the Teacher Week: "Taming the Wild" & "Tips & Tricks"

Today's post is a combination of yesterday & today's topics for Blog Hoppin's Teacher Week.  I don't have a lot of pictures from my room to show you yet, so I will just have to tell you about it today and then show you in more depth (and with pictures!) in a week or two once I have full access to my room again.

Classroom Management:
Ok, are you ready for this............I don't use a clip chart! (Gasp!)  I know....I'm a rebel.  I used to use the "traffic light system", but I didn't like how you started at the top and could only go down.  Since then, I've seen a lot of clip charts that allow students to go up as well, but the system I do now works for me.  What is it?  Well, I don't think it has an official name, but I unofficially call it the "cup & stick system".  (Because I like to be technical.) ;)  I heard about it from another teacher at my school and since then, many of the classrooms in our school use it as their individual management system.

Basically, each kid has a cup with their name on it, and the cups are all taped onto a board.

This board has seen better days, but you get the idea.

You purposefully arrange the cups to place kids who need reminders about certain things in between two kids who do really well with those certain things.  Each "block" of the day has a certain color stick (math = blue, reading = red, etc.) and it ends up being 6 sticks a day.  Kids can earn a stick to put in their cup for demonstrating positive behaviors.  I give my kids one (maybe two) reminders, and anything after that is no stick. 

At the end of each block is "stick check", where the whole class gathers together and you put sticks in the cups of kids who've earned them.  BUT, here's the real beauty of it.  As you put a child's stick in their cup, you take the time to PRAISE them for something specific that they did well during that block.  This helps me make sure that I am really focusing on the positive and connecting with each child to encourage more positive behavior.  If a child didn't earn a stick, I say ABSOLUTELY NOTHING about it.  But, I DO praise the child before them and the child after them for the behavior that they needed to work on.  This helps the child know what they need to work on for the next stick check.  Of course, you will have that kid who is still oblivious as to why they didn't get a stick.  If that happens, I pull them off to the side when I get a chance and we go over why they missed that stick and how they can improve to earn the next one.

I also like it because at the end of the day, I have a visual picture for how each child did throughout the day.  HUGELY HELPFUL considering our firsties switch classes & I don't see my kiddos for science and reading.  If there are a few kids that always "forget" why they didn't earn a stick or have trouble consistently earning them, we have them track their sticks on a behavior log and write why they didn't earn a stick after each block.

At the end of the day, we look at how many sticks we have.  If they've earned 5 or 6 sticks (6 is the maximum), they earn a "Super Day" note to bring home.  If they've earned 4 sticks, they earn a "Good Day" note.  They are just little pieces of paper, but man are they powerful!  It lets parents know about their child's day, and it is a (free!) reward for the child.  They are so proud of themselves when they earn Super Days!  I do build in other treats for Super Days to mix it up & add interest as the year progresses, but they are always small things like a sticker or a Skittle. 

Whew....that took longer than I thought!  Moving on....

Tips & Tricks:
Some advice that I would give to all new teachers is to go super slow the first month of the year.  Focus on building a classroom community, focus on practicing and reviewing behaviors, focus on building the positive and giving tons of praise.  Yes, content is important, but if those expectations aren't firmly established, you will have to take lots of time away from content later in the year to deal with classroom management issues.  I was so worried about getting through all of the content my first year that I didn't spend as much time reviewing and practicing behaviors.  Bad idea.  Last year, I purposely went very slowly for probably the first 4-6 weeks of school, doing some content but also doing lots and lots of repetition with practicing procedures, reviewing behavior expectations, and praising kids for positive choices.  I'm sure you know the ending to this story....last year went a lot smoother.  This year, I am planning to repeat a lot of the stuff that I did last year to build community and set those firm expectations.

This post was a little text-heavy, but I hope it was helpful and gave you an idea to add to your "teacher toolbox".  Head on over to Blog Hoppin' to get some more great tips!

 - Katy


  1. Hi Kate,

    I am a new follower. I also teach first grade in Wisconsin. I am looking forward to reading more on your blog.

    The Very Busy Classroom

  2. Hi Katy! I don't use a clip chart either...we've been using Teeny Tiny Teacher's Golden Tickets and have really loved it! I like your system, too!!
    Smiles - Lisa
    Growing Firsties


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