I was asked in a Twitter chat when do I blog and what I focus on in my posts. And of course that question lead to a reflection. I tweeted that now as a retired teacher (who does sub) I am often motivated by an incident that might trigger a memory from my teaching years, and more often than not, a reflection of what I think and see from my new perspective of ‘hindsight!” I blog to understand and to share, hoping that people might find my post interesting and challenging. I look to learn, so provocations might stretch the conversation. I’ve learned through my PLN on Twitter that “a provocation is a means of questioning and setting up exploration to delve deeper into the learning.” A chat with #g2great PLN and a comment from @DrMaryHoward brought to mind how much our students can be brought into their circle of learning.
So here is a reflection on Behavior Charts. I have changed courses in my thinking over the years and might have written about it before. However changing my mind is not that I can’t take a stand or am ‘wishy-washy’ but just getting more information, letting it percolate and then sharing another perspective. I do remember my beginning years in kindergarten using classroom rules charts as a guide to individual Behavior Charts. Sometimes they were successful, sometimes not, but the person who wanted it most was me the teacher so my kinder could move on and ‘be perfect.’ I won’t go into the horrors of failures, not my students, but in retrospect, mine. And then one day I said no more! I learned to look away, to watch before I intervened and to find the “good stuff” about the kinder that I clung to and focused on. Sometimes I was successful and sometimes not. But there were no stickers, no happy or sad faces. My teaching partner and I worked with therapists, parents and administrators to create an environment that would support the student and in turn his/her classmates. Although this felt good and a positive way to reach the kinders when behavioral issues occurred, sometimes it still was so much work on the teacher’s part. Not that I’m shirking responsibility but just thinking ‘out loud’ (in print), about other ways.
If we look at Behavior Charts as a form of accountability then why don’t we include our students in the process from the get go. Class rules, class management or class obligations can come from our students’ perspective. If we say the classroom is their room then let’s show it whenever and wherever we can. When kids work together to establish the class rules/guidelines/expectations then they can talk about the behavior that disrupts or challenges the flow of the day. The Class Behavior Chart becomes a point of reference in a discussion, a reflection that the student has with the teacher. (Not a reward system that becomes an extrinsic motivator doomed to failure.) It’s not about rewards or punishment but about responsibility and accountability, and in life, learning that life lesson early on may be the best reward!
With so much information on motivation and the push back on Behavior Charts, I am curious how teachers are meeting these challenging times.