Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Behavior- More then a flip chart!

When I started teaching over 10 years ago, I thought the three color flip chart was the answers to classroom management, but I never quite felt right implementing it.  I hated that kids could not reverse their flip. Once it's flipped you can't turn back...you gotta go through with the consequence. What do I do if or when they get to the final flip (usually the red card)? Ugh! Call a parent? Send a note home? Go to the office? I like to avoid all of those options at all times. After a horrific outburst of behavior in my first grade classroom I knew something needed to be done.  I attended a behavior seminar with a few of my first grade colleagues and my attitude toward classroom behavior was changed forever. Good Bye three color flip chart!

The presenter explained a whole new rationale to controlling/correcting behavior in the classroom.  Think about this: The classroom is 95% procedures and 5% rules. What amazing sense that makes!  I went back to my classroom and I typed up a procedure for EVERY aspect of the classroom. From throwing garbage out, sharpening pencils, needing to use the bathroom, needing the teachers attention, to arrival, dismissal, and lining up routines.  I kept each procedure to no more then 5 directions and we studied and practiced them several times a day. As explained to both the students and parents, "When a child knows what to do in any given situation (pencils breaks, can't see the board, someone is talking to them during a lesson, needing help etc...) disruptive behavior is practically eliminated.

In addition to procedures we had only 4 Ground Rules. The word ground is very important. When you are grounded, your feet are down and you are aware of your surroundings and how you are effecting those around you. The Ground Rules are: 1. I will not hurt others 2. I will not hurt myself 3. I will hurt animals/pets 4. I will not hurt property. Now, as you may make behavior contracts or decrees in the beginning of the year, all the random rules you come up with will fit within these 4 ground rules. For example, I will keep my hands and feet to myself.  Well, what rule does that fit into? I will not hurt others. The same with I will raise my hand before speaking.  If you don't raise your hand you will be disruptive and hurting others.  We discussed these ground rules and talked about dozens of rule infractions and what ground rule it would fit into.  Using ground rules are also expanded to be applied at home.

I do understand that their does need to be some way to motivate and track the choices that are made in class. You'll notice that I did not say good or bad behavior. Children are not "good" or "bad". They make good and bad choices! It is important to encourage students to reflect on the choices that they make.  Now, this brings me to a wonderful alternative to a classic flip chart.  I call it a Smile Chart.  As you can see their is a middle column, Good Job and three moves up the chart: Super, Excellent, Awesome. There's also three moves down the chart: Oops, Not Here and No!. I love using this chart and most importantly I love that I am able to recognize positive/good choices that are observed. However, there are also times when I must call attention to bad choices that are being made. Trust me, students would rather move up the chart then down! Students keep a replica of the Smile Chart in their take-home folder and at the end of every day they must color in the smiley face that their piece is on.

This chat has worked in a 1st, 3rd and 5th grade classroom.  I love inviting students to move up the chart. It reminds me to make sure I recognize the individual in each child! If you have any questions about this chart or how to make it. please let me know! How do you think this would work in your classroom?


  1. I love the concept Amy. When I moved into the classroom, the first thing I thought was how I would NOT use one of those awful green/yellow/red card systems. They only call attention to negative behavior. I use a clip chart, which is the same concept as yours but with a vertical chart and clothespins with the kids' initials. They get a glitter sticker star on their "clip" if they make it up to the top. All I need to do is acknowledge a positive behavior, have that child move their clip up, and the rest fall in line. I love it!

    1. Great! What I also like about charts like ours us that I can tell who I've given attention to that day. If by halfway through the day I realize I haven't recognized a student I especially look for a moment to do so. Post a pic of your chart!

    2. Exactly! Here is a picture of it:

      And CONGRATS again!!! :)


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