Monday, July 21, 2014

Sticks & Stickers: Behavior Management

I am so excited to be linking up with my post about behavior management. As teachers, we know this is a crucial part of any successful classroom. It is also one of my favorite topics to read about  on blogs and browse on Pinterest.

Every year my system changes based on what I learned the following year and my new group of kiddos. This past year, my management plan was based on sticks and stickers.

Here's how it worked


Each student had a numbered Popsicle stick in a bucket near my desk (I used the metal pails that are always in the dollar spot at Target). If a student made a poor choice after an individual or class warning, they were asked to move their stick into the bucket marked 1. The next time, they had to move it to bin 2, then 3. When they were not able to move their stick anymore they had to sign the red discipline binder. The binder is a school wide way to document student behavior. At the end of each quarter, the principals have some sort of fun activity for the kids who haven't signed it. 

What I love about sticks is:

1. It's Easy: Popsicle sticks are cheap and it didn't require me to make anything.

2. It's Private: the bins are located by my desk so other students can't see where their friends are. We are not allowed to do the green, yellow, red cards at our school because our administration feels it can humiliate a student and people/other adults coming in the room know information about that child. 

3. THEY CAN EARN STICKS BACK!: I know it seems like I give them a lot of chances, it is 4 total (warning, bin 1, bin 2, bin 3, THEN discipline binder). I take sticks quickly and immediately after a warning; they don't get a sassy look or a "I'll just wait" pause. I have found that losing a stick motivates them to work harder. Students were always coming to me to say, "I'm going to earn it back. I know i can!" Most of the time students earned their stick back by the end of the day.


In my classroom, stickers were the reward for not losing your stick or for earning it back by the end of the day. Each of my students had a behavior calendar (It was just a monthly calendar that went home every night). If students earned their sticker, it went on that day on the calendar. If students didn't earn their sticker, I put a slash on the day and jotted a quick note on the back (I found that I had to put a slash or crafty students would just find their own sticker to put there). Parents sign these every night so it really helped with communication. There was almost no "I didn't know Johnny was having trouble" at report card time.

What do the stickers mean? REWARDS! I had a list of non edible rewards that the students LOVED. At the end of each month I would collect their calendars, count their stickers, and offer them a choice of rewards based on their total.

What I love about stickers is:

1. It helped students with organization: They got one calendar a month, that's it. If they lost it they couldn't earn stickers or get monthly reward (I would just email if they lost their sticker for the day or a note home separately). If they forgot their calendar at home, no sticker. I can count on one hand the amount of times a student lost their calendar or left it at home, and it was always the same students.

2. Documentation: If an issue arose with a certain student, I could whip out their behavior calendars from every month and see how many times they lost a sticker and what for. I've taken them to IEP and FBA meetings. I've had parents ask for copies to take to the doctor and discuss if new medication was working. I've even had some parents go to my principal to complain about a punishment that they thought was unfair since they didn't know about the behavior. I was able to whip out the calendar and show their signature next to each lost sticker. It was wonderful. This system had actually saved me a couple times.

I realize that this system isn't for everyone. I've had colleagues say that it is too time consuming because they don't want to have to check in with every student, every afternoon. 

Here are some ways I found to better manage my time:

1. Students take it out of their folder and turn it in as they unpack in the morning. This way I don't have to flip through folders, they're all in one pile.

2. Pre-sticker: I pre-sticker as many calendars as I can while the kids are doing morning work. There were about 20 of my 26 who rarely or never lost a stick. This helped tremendously because in the afternoon chaos I only had to worry about 6 calendars and they were all right on top.

3. Make it Routine: The passing back of calendars was part of our dismissal routine. I would call students one at a time while they were reading quietly to come to my desk and get their calendar. Then they were free to pack up, stack chairs, and start their afternoon job. This allowed me time for the best behavior manager of all;  feedback and relationship. I used this couple of seconds to encourage/congratulate sticker students and conference with no sticker students. A lot of the time I would pretend I forgot why a student lost their stick and have them tell me. This helped them take ownership by stating "I..." Other times I would have them tell me what to jot down as a reason for their parent or have them read the note I already wrote aloud. This was always a really calm, encouraging conversation and not accusatory. My goal was to leave the children happy and empowered to make better decisions.

Well, there you have it. This system works great for me and I love it. I plan on tweaking it a little this year. I am planning on a follow-up post once school gets started and we can live it for a while. Thanks for stopping by! 

Swing by Mrs. V's Busy Bees for other awesome behavior management ideas.

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