One of the biggest areas teachers have anxiety about is behavior management. Will our students listen to us? What if they don’t? How can I gain their trust and respect?
Of course, it’s important to build relationships, have engaging lessons, lots of patience, understanding, and build a caring community in your classroom. These can all contribute to positive behavior in the classroom.
However, some years that’s not enough.
Some years you can have positive discussions till you’re blue in the face, wait for quiet until the entire period goes by, or plan lessons that are so much fun, Chuck E. Cheese would be jealous.
And still, there are students who need more.
After trying several different behavior management systems, I realized I needed 3 levels of support.
Why 3 Levels of Behavior Management?
I don’t like to point out specific students for negative behaviors, so I avoid that as much as I can. Having group incentives often eliminates the need to call out a particular child (although not always). I have incentives for whole-group, table groups, and individual behavior management. It’s super easy to keep track of and I’ll explain just how each works.
Whole-Class Behavior Management System
Having an incentive for the whole class helps in a couple of ways. Besides helping me avoid having to call out specific students for negative behavior, it also encourages the class to work as a team towards our goal, helping each other along and building a positive environment.
I use a clip chart in my class, but not in the traditional way. Instead of having each student go up and down the chart with their own clip, I have one clip. This clip represents class behavior as a whole. I do move the clip up and down, to reflect overall behavior, and every time the class reaches the top, they get a gumball ‘dot sticker’ on our class gumball machine poster. When our machine is full, we vote on a ‘paaaaar-tay!’
Group Behavior Management System
Sometimes most of your class is working on task, but one group is talking excessively or vice versa- most of the class is off-task but one group is really working hard. This is when having group rewards helps.
Giving a reward to groups that are on-task greatly helps to refocus those who aren’t.
I use table links. Each of my groups has a name. These vary by year. Some years I have used numbers, colors, or shapes. When I had a farm theme, my tables were named after farm animals. Same with ocean creatures.
I found a spot in our room that was highly visible and posted our group names. Under each name, I use a push pin as a link holder (on a bulletin board, or a hook on cement walls). I add links to the chain as rewards and when a group got 5 links, they got a prize and started on their next 5.
Why does this work?
This system works because students are not competing against other groups in the class. I used to reward the group with the most links at the end of the week, but soon realized that kids at tables who were far behind would give up because they knew their table wouldn’t win. This made the group reward ineffective.
Not having a limit to how many prizes you can win is also a great incentive! When a group gets 5 links, they know they can now work towards the next 5, which keeps them motivated.
Individual Behavior Management System
And finally, I have an incentive for individual students. This is an important component of the system because it helps keep everyone accountable, without relying on others’ behavior.
I use monthly punch cards and students keep them taped to their desks (or can put them away in their pencil boxes or folders). I walk around every morning and give-hole punches to students who hand in their homework and follow the morning routine to get right on task. I also give hole-punches throughout the day for demonstrations of good character and to help refocus others. Sometimes I give hole-punches to a whole table as a reward when they reach 5 links. You can choose which behaviors you want to reinforce and reward those with the hole-punches.
No More Prize Bin
I used to spend so much money on prizes for our treasure chest! Not anymore.
At the end of the month, students shop in Tejedas R Us, my class store, but instead of prizes, I use reward coupons. I have mine color-coded for different levels, starting with 5 hole-punches, then 10, 15 and 20. The higher the cost, the better the rewards (kids love to get the ‘fake birthday’ or ‘paparazzi’ coupons for 20 hole-punches!).
I do have a little prize bin for 5 hole-punches, but I just put any extra little items I come across in there- sometimes I have extra pencils, erasers, or little toys left over from a holiday party, stickers, bookmarks, or fire hats from our firefighter visit!
The reward coupons include 12 different prizes for each category, so you have plenty to choose from. Also included are 6 SUPER-coupons that are optional, since they require you to purchase supplies (bubbles, play doh, etc).
How to Store
Teachers have limited space, so I made sure storing these was super easy, and you have several options. I make a couple month’s worth of punch cards at a time (you can type in your students’ names), laminate and cut them out so they’re ready to go. I also recommend making extra blank ones in case anyone loses theirs or you have a new student. I keep these in a small basket in my desk since they don’t take up too much room. Kids LOVE guessing the new theme for each month!
I used to store the reward coupons in a tackle box- the kind you can store magnetic letters in. I used dot stickers in the compartments to color-code the reward levels. This worked well, but my favorite way of storing them is in a pocket chart.
This is my favorite way to store them because kids can clearly see all options at once, without having to flip through the coupons. I don’t use all of the coupons at once. I like to rotate the rewards throughout the year to keep motivation high, and this also allows for a smaller pocket chart.
To keep track of student rewards, I maintain a log. This is not necessary, but it helps if a student loses their coupon, or tries to use it twice (I have never had this happen). It’s also fun to see what kids choose!
I have a freebie for you! One of the level 4 rewards is King/ Queen for a Day! Kids absolutely love this reward because everyone calls them Your Majesty/ Royal Highness, they color in and wear a crown, and they make decisions throughout the day. This is also fun to use on birthdays. Click here to download your King/Queen for a Day Reward Coupon pack free! For the entire behavior system bundle, click here: Behavior System with Reward Coupons.
And Don’t Forget. . .
I can’t leave without emphasizing that building relationships with your students is paramount to promoting positive classroom behavior! One way to do this is by greeting your students warmly in the morning! Meet them by the door to welcome them in a fun way with this FREE morning greeting sign. Get this FREE from my resource library!
More Behavior Management Tips
Click here to read 14 quick, helpful tips on getting your students’ attention when their low chatter becomes a loud roar!
Thanks for reading!