Several of my bloggy buddies have strong feelings about clip charts in both positive and negative directions.
My bloggy buddy Jen from Simply Kinder talks about why she took her chart down.
Another blogger wrote about why she LOVES her clip chart.
After having read both sides from a teacher’s perspective, I had to do a bit of research on the clip chart before I started this post. I figured if I was going to make a decision about it, I needed to know who created it and for what purpose.
A teacher named Rick Morris developed this. The first quote on the E-Book with his story is
‘Discipline is teaching, not punishment.’
Interestingly enough…that is one of the things that people who do not like the clip chart concept cite as an issue. It seems largely punitive. In the section of the E-Book where he mentions how to get kids to clip down, he talks about speaking to students privately on their indiscretion before asking them to clip down.
Morris talks all about how to document the behaviors and how to reward students who are successful at getting to the top of the chart several times in a row. This series of posts is all about my reflecting on things that I’ve always done…so, let me share where I am with this topic.
1.) These types of systems typically work in favor of a specific type of student.
Students who are mostly visual, mostly quiet, and attentive to detail are going to find themselves at the top of the chart often. When I was rethinking how I wanted to build community in my classroom, I knew that making yourself ‘invisible’ as far as how often you are noticed for errant behavior, is NOT the way I wanted to go. For some children, school is easy. Self-discipline is fairly effortless. Academic strength is embedded in the fiber of who they were before they came to you. Then there are other students that have ants in their pants–sometimes literally and figuratively. 🙂 When THOSE children give you a lesson without blurting, it COST them something. They physically had to remind themselves every time they wanted to share something with you or their tablemates that they had to swallow it and wait. KNOWING they may not get another chance later. That’s a sacrifice. I want to honor that. That’s not saying that I don’t want my introverted quiet students to feel my appreciation…but there is more to being ‘good’ than not being annoying.
2.) Shame should not be the precursor to compliance.
I want my students to follow my directions because they respect me. It would be a bigger bonus if they did it because they love me. When I am working with students the way I talk with them when we are in the process of redirection is key to helping them grow into healthy young people. I think that in previous years, the way that I used my clip chart didn’t really aid me in this struggle. It’s frustrating when students don’t follow through on their part. As the authority in the room, it is easy to apply some type of emotional pressure to the situation to move children towards compliance. Sometimes, in those small moments, our inability to be sensitive while we are disciplining our kids can leave a scar. None of us intend to do it…but we are human. When asking a child to clip down, or demonstrate that they recognize that they are in error…we need to be sensitive. Asking a child to move their own clip down is adding to that. Going to a color that is considered less than desirable…and that being seen by anyone who is in the classroom is an additional burden.
So, in light of these thoughts, how did I approach discipline this year?
|This clip chart system is from Sarah over at There’s No Place Like Second Grade. You can find it HERE.|
Use a system that is based on building character in your students.
Well, I am still using a clip chart, but it’s a little different than other types of clip chart.
It’s a character based one! I love the idea of clipping ON children for things! It keeps the mood in my classroom positive. It keeps my focus on looking for things that my students are doing well. Most of the time, in an elementary classroom, if you tell one kid they are doing a great job, the others follow suit. Positive praise goes a long way to getting compliance.
My sweet bloggy buddy Sarah from There’s No Place Like Second Grade has a wonderful post on why she’s still using a clip chart style management system that is based on character. She offers her clip chart system in her TPT store. You can find it HERE.
Highlight character with literature and role playing activities.
|This Character Ed pack focuses on the benefits of following the rules and the difference between tattling and telling.
You can see a preview HERE.
|This Character Ed pack focuses on how to resolve conflict between friends.
You can see a preview of it HERE.
|This Character Ed pack focuses on how to have gratitude. Great for the holiday season!
You can see a preview of it HERE.
Know your students’ currencies.
Don’t major on the minors.
Not every battle needs to be fought verbally. Non verbal cues like…’the look’ or a special hand signal and eye contact can work wonders for students. Know what your non-negotiables are and make it a short list. Tell the kids what you expect with those things. In my class, I have two. Lying and defiance are two things that I just won’t tolerate. When you can’t trust those in your community, or when we put our feelings over the feelings of others, relationship is broken down…I don’t lie to my kids, and I expect that when I speak to them, they speak to me…even if it’s to tell me that they are not yet ready to talk about their feelings. It at least acknowledges that they heard me and responded.
Respect your kids.
Just because they are little, doesn’t mean that they don’t appreciate a thoughtfully worded apology when you’ve made a mistake. I apologize for things early and often. Modeling that behavior is a key component to building community. It’s amazing now, after about 10 weeks in the classroom how often I will hear them apologizing for things in much the same way. They are little, but they can still learn big lessons on community when we treat them like we expect them to make good choices and do their best.
Use behavior charts and strategies to help students focus on their own self-improvement goals.
Help students reflect on their behavior and then offer them support in getting better at the areas they are weak in. This year, I have two students on behavior charts. One of my boys is super conscientious about it. I LOVE how focused he is on specific parts of his day now. He works really hard at staying on task so that he can get his three stamps daily! His chart is in his folder, and he comes to me at the end of the day to remind me to ‘stamp him’ because he knows that remembering to stamp him is not my responsibility. It’s his. 🙂 For this child, a chart works…but for others…it won’t…so, having a few different styles of ideas to turn to will help!