I’ve Had Enough – No More Public Behavior Management Systems

When I was a 5th grade teacher, my classroom was the very last one before the buses.  Every day, all of the school’s students would pass by and inevitably some of those students and I would strike up a conversation.  Day after day, a little kindergartener would tell me about his day, his shoes, his new fish, or whatever else popped into his mind.  One day, he saw me and beamed,”Guess what, Mrs. Ripp!”  “What?” I asked.  “Peter was on yellow today!”  He told this news as if it was the biggest gift, excitement spilling from his little body.  Momentarily confused, because wasn’t this child’s name distinctly not Peter, it finally dawned on me; he was talking about another student.  “Oh yeah?” I said.  “Yes, Mrs. Ripp, it’s exciting, he hasn’t been on yellow all year…”  It was November.  My heart dropped.

Here was a kindergarten student who every single day so far of the year had been on red. Who every day had their behavior dissected in front of the rest of the class.   Whose classroom identity was being distinctly shaped by poor decisions and whose biggest identifier was his behavior.  I can only imagine what my kindergarten friend would tell his parent every day about Peter.

And that is the thing.  As a parent, as another teacher, as someone who is outside of your classroom community, I should not be able to see which child is having a bad day.  I should not be able to walk into your room and see the aftermath of something that did not happen in front of me.  That is a personal matter between the child, the teacher, and that child’s parents.  Why do we seem to forget that every time we hang a behavior chart, display our cups, or even use Class Dojo publicly?

Why do we make our classrooms that are supposed to function on trust and support and turn them into halls of public shame for some kids?  Where is the outrage?  Or do parents not even know?

I get that there are kids that need behavior system, I have some of those kids too, but those behavior systems should center on privacy.  Should center on knowing the child.  Should center on the fact that we are dealing with another human being, that yes, may make poor decisions upon poor decisions, but they are still somebody’s child.  If we are looking for long-term change then that will never start with public shame, but it certainly ends there.

When we use public behavior management systems, we tell those children that school will never be a place where they will succeed.  We put them under an unattainable microscope and then wonder why they rebel.  We watch for the smallest infraction and then come down hard, making sure that they know who is in control, who holds the power, but did they really ever forget that?  And sure, for some kids it will make a change, for some kids it will take one down clip, one stick moved, one lost point and they will never do that behavior again because they have been embarrassed sufficiently.  Is that what we want to shape the behavior of our children?  But if we already know by the start of a day, which children will probably be on red or yellow, which child will already have a bad day, then why do we need to make it public?  Why make that a self-fulfilling prophecy?  Instead, we should be wondering how our school seems to not be working, and what do we need to change?

Today I was asked what I would use instead of a classroom behavior system or Class Dojo?  My answer; common sense and kindness.  Patience, communication, and yes, even private plans.  No child deserves to be publicly humiliated day upon day, they deserve better than this.  We can do better.

PS:  Here is a link to all of my posts talking about what you can do instead.

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Before You Hang Up That Public Behavior Chart

What-if-we-assumed-that

I have written before about public behavior charts, how I feel about them, what they do to students in my opinion.  And while some seem to have found a way to make them work within their environments, I wonder; what if we assumed that all students would have a great day, a great year, and we started off our year without them?  No behavior chart prominently hanging greeting the students on the very first day of school?

I think of the message we send on the very first day of school and how it can frame the way a child sees us.  I used to go over my behavior chart as one of the very first things of the school year; how to act, what the expectations were and more importantly what the consequences would be.  I assumed that my students would need consequences.  I assumed they would need punishment.  I knew they needed a structure, all people do, but I framed that structure in a negative way hoping for a positive result  Why I didn’t see that oxymoron until a few years in, I am not sure.

I am not saying get rid of your behavior systems, not if you’re not ready, but perhaps re-think the assumption that they need to be present from the very first moment of the new year.  And while we are battling assumptions, maybe it is time to reconsider whether all children truly benefit from them.  Do we really need a behavior chart for every single student in our rooms?  I think of my own daughter who works so hard on being good every single day, proudly telling me whenever she gets a compliment from the teacher, and the devastating effect it would have on her if she had to be on “yellow” or “not so great” for the whole world to see.  She cares so much about others, sometimes to a fault, that it would wreck her if others thought she was “bad.” Some may say that that is exactly the intended response; for a child to be so mortified that they never do that behavior again.  Yet, I wonder if that mortification leads to a break down in relationship?

We all know that student behavior can get better if a child feels safe within our environment.  That means safe to learn, safe to try, and yes, safe to have a bad day.  When we publicly show the rest of the class that a child is having a bad day and then leave a reminder up, we limit the way a child can process through their actions.  Some students will obviously correct their behavior, whereas others will continue down the path of bad decisions since they have already been called out on it.  So instead of the public behavior chart, how about a private one?  That way a child can still know how they are doing, you can still have the conversations it may spur, but you cut out the public call out, the public humiliation.  And what if on the first day of school we didn’t speak of just our own rules, but had the students discuss their rules for the classroom?  How about instead of consequences, we spoke of the learning journey?

So before you hang up that public behavior chart, even though it may have room for both great behavior and bad, consider whether every child needs one?  Can we accomplish the same privately?  Can a compliment mean more to a child than moving their clip?  Can a hushed conversation be a better consequence for a child who is making bad choices?  Can the same benefits that some see in the charts be reached in a kinder, quieter way?  I don’t think it hurts to ask the question.

PS:  If you want to read more about what I do now in my classrooms, read here 

I am a passionate teacher in Oregon, Wisconsin, USA,  who has taught 4th, 5th, and 7th grade.  Proud techy geek, and mass consumer of incredible books. Creator of the Global Read Aloud Project, Co-founder of EdCamp MadWI, and believer in all children. I have no awards or accolades except for the lightbulbs that go off in my students’ heads every day.  First book “Passionate Learners – Giving Our Classrooms Back to Our Students” can be purchased now from Powerful Learning Press.   Second book“Empowered Schools, Empowered Students – Creating Connected and Invested Learners” is out now from Corwin Press.  Follow me on Twitter @PernilleRipp.

So What’s My Problem With Public Behavior Charts?

image borrowed from Kimberley Moran – see her great post on how to move past behavior charts linked at the bottom of the post

 

The day starts out fine, you had your breakfast, you had your tea, you feel prepared, happy even.  You are off to school and ready to teach.  At the morning staff meeting you get so excited over an idea you lean over to your colleague to whisper in their ear.   After all, they really need to hear this.  “Mrs. Ripp, please move your clip.”  Shocked, you look around and feel every set of eyes on you.  You stand up, walk to the front, move your clip from the top of the chart to yellow or whatever other step down there is.  Quietly you sit down, gone is your motivation for the day, you know it can only get worse from here.

Ridiculous right?  After all, how many times as adults are we asked to move our name, our clip, our stick, or even write our name on the board so others can see we are misbehaving?  We don’t, and we wouldn’t if we were told to, after all, we demand respect, we demand common courtesy, we expect to be treated like, well, adults.  So us, moving sticks, yeah right…

Search for “Classroom behavior charts” on Pinterest and prepare to be astounded.  Sure, you will see the classic stop light charts, but now a new type of chart has emerged.  The cute classroom behavior chart, filled with flowers, butterflies, and smiley faces.  As if this innocent looking chart could never damage a child, as if something with polka-dots could ever be bad.   And sure, must of them have more than three steps to move down, but the idea is still the same; a public behavior chart display will ensure students behave better.  Why?  Because they don’t want the humiliation that goes along with moving ones name.  Nothing beats shaming a child into behaving.

The saddest thing for me is that I used to do it.  I used to be the queen of moved sticks, checkmarks, and names on the board.  I used to be the queen of public displays heralding accomplishments and shaming students.  I stopped when I realized that all I did was create a classroom divided, a classroom that consisted of the students who were good and the students who were bad.  I didn’t even have to tell my students out-loud who the “bad” kids were, they simply looked at our chart and then drew their own conclusions.  And then as kids tend to do, they would tell their parents just who had misbehaved and been on red or yellow for the day. Word got around and parents would make comments whenever they visited our room of just how tough it must be to teach such and such.  I couldn’t understand why they would say that until I realized it stared me in the face.  My punishment/behavior system announced proudly to anyone who the bad kids were, so of course, parents knew it too. So I took it down and never looked back.  No more public humiliation in my classroom ever again.

We may say that we do it for the good of the child.  We may say that it helps us control our classrooms.  We may say that public behavior charts have worked in our classrooms.  I know I used to.  And yet, have we thought of how the students feel about them?  Have we thought about the stigma we create?  Have we thought about the role we force students into and then are surprised when they continue to play it?

The fastest way to convince a child they are bad is to tell them in front of their peers.  So if that is what we are trying to accomplish, then by all means, display the cute behavior charts. Frame them in smiley faces, hearts or whatever other pinterest idea you stumble upon.  Start everyone in the middle so the divide becomes even more apparent when some children move up and others move down.  Hang those banners of accomplishment, make sure not everyone is on there.  Make sure everybody has been ranked and that everybody knows who is good and who is bad.  Create a classroom where students actions are not questioned, nor discussed, but simply punished.  And then tell them loudly and proudly to move their clip.  After all, if the whole class doesn’t know someone is misbehaving then how will they ever change?

To see one teacher’s journey of how she moved past public behavior charts, please read this post by Kimberley Moran “Moving Past Behavior Charts” 

PS:  As Patrick’s comment wonders, what are the alternatives?  I have blogged extensively about what to do instead, just click the links highlighted in the post or go to this page 

PPS:  More thoughts on this have been posted tonight 

I am a passionate  teacher in Wisconsin, USA,  who has taught 4th, 5th, and 7th grade.  Proud techy geek, and mass consumer of incredible books. Creator of the Global Read Aloud Project, Co-founder of EdCamp MadWI, and believer in all children. I have no awards or accolades except for the lightbulbs that go off in my students’ heads every day.  First book “Passionate Learners – Giving Our Classrooms Back to Our Students” can be purchased now from Powerful Learning Press.   Second book“Empowered Schools, Empowered Students – Creating Connected and Invested Learners” can be pre-ordered from Corwin Press now.  Follow me on Twitter @PernilleRipp.

 

Common Misbehaviors and How I Work With Them

I am editing my book (to be published in mid-July by PLPress!) and while I am taking much out because it seems redundant or unclear, tonight I added more thoughts on getting rid of punishments.  As so often happens my thoughts kept evolving and I came up with this, hope it is helpful


Misbehavior
Old Ways
New Ideas
A child constantly blurts or interrupts
Reprimand, check mark or anything else that signals they were not following rules
  • Partner share – have them tell answers to children at their tables before sharing with you
  • Dry erase board – this way they can flash you the answer rather than blurt it out
  • A tally sheet – They mark down when they blurt out to create awareness of problem, no punishment attached
The child that cannot sit still
Force them to “Pay attention!”

  • Give them a movement break – a quick walk around the school usually helps
  • Allow them to work wherever they choose, at least  then they will not distract their seat mates
  • Change up the way you are teaching
    @Cybraryman1 reminded me of ball chairs – which I actually have in my room and forgot to mention – these are also great for kids that are falling out of their chairs.
The class that cannot concentrate
Yell or raise voice, give them a lecture about importance of information
  • Change the way something will be taught
  • Ask the students how they would like to learn about it
Late or missing homework
Missed recess or phone call home, loss of privileges
  • Ask them how they plan to fix it.  Often students will brainstorm a way to get it done.
  • If they say they left it at home tell them you believe them and that they can hand it in the following day
  • Conference to set up plan for remembering in the long run
Disrespect
Yelling or raised finger, immediate dismissal to office
  • Much of this can be prevented through establishment of community, however, if it happens stay calm and try to joke about it
  • Speaking privately to the student about the disrespect and ask for reasons behind it
Constant chatting between students or passing notes
Singling out students, loss of privilege
  • Recognizing the conversation and asking them to stop then changing how the lesson is delivered  
  • Give students time to discuss or work with partners
  • Ignoring behavior if it is not a big deal
Excessive violation of classroom rules
Loss of privileges, loss of recess, sent to the office
  • Classroom discussion to see if rules need to be changed
  • Asking child why they are doing what they are doing and what you can do to help
  • Keeping it low key to not give it more importance and trying to figure out what is causing it rather than just focusing on the infractions themselves.


Book Pernille

Thank you for coming to my home away from home; this blog!  Blogging Through the Fourth Dimension started in June 2010 as a way for me to become a better teacher.  I knew I needed to change, I knew I had to throw most of my old ways out and I needed a place to reflect; thus this blog was born.  Now several years later, with many global conversations started, I am proud of the work that is here.

One of My Happiest Places

To contat me you can either use this form or this speaker request form

 

 

A Personal Mission

I want students to love school.  This means that in my own classroom students are empowered in their learning journey in order to achieve a highly engaged and personalized learning environment.  As a teacher, it means that this blog, the books I have written, the speaking I do, and also the professional development I have been a part of centers around trying to create environments where not just students thrive, but staff as well.  I have a dream of schools where all stakeholders feel they have a voice; that is my driving force.

What type of speaking do I do?

  • Workshops for school districts, as well as in-service PD days.
  • Keynotes for conferences, as well as featured presentations and workshops depending on need.
  • A variety of other speaking based on need, if in doubt, ask.

I am fortunate enough to be invited to share this vision, and practical progress toward it, with many different audiences.  Some key areas I have focused on during keynotes, workshops, professional development, and coaching opportunities center around personalization, engagement, global collaboration, and meaningful literacy instruction.   My workshops/sessions are interactive and blend story-telling with practical how-to’s that participants can implement right away.  Working with other teachers is a thing I love and am honored to be asked to do.

My Areas of Expertise:

  • Creating a passionate literacy community
  • Personalized learning environments for staff and students
  • Student engagement and empowerment
  • Global collaboration through technology infusion

What You Can Expect:

  • Personal attention and development of project intended to fit your purpose.
  • Prompt communication.
  • A personalized and interactive delivery that will fulfill the needs of the target audience.
  • Accessibility and an ongoing relationship after the talk.  I become a trusted resource for the audience as they move forward.

Frequently Requested Keynotes:

Passionate Learners – How to Engage and Empower Your Students

Would you want to be a student in your own classroom? In this session, based on the book Passionate Learners: How to Engage and Empower Your Students, 7th-grade teacher Pernille Ripp will help both novice and seasoned educators create a positive, interactive learning environment where students drive their own academic achievement. You’ll discover how to make fundamental changes to your classroom so learning becomes an exciting challenge rather than a frustrating ordeal. Attendees will discover practical strategies for how to build a working relationship with your students based on mutual trust, respect, and appreciation, be attentive to your students’ needs and share ownership of the classroom with them, and break out of the vicious cycle of punishment and reward to control student behavior.  Whether you are just beginning or well on your way in your teaching career, this session is meant to inspire you, help you take some risks, and eagerly pursue your journey toward a classroom filled with passionate learners.

This keynote can also be geared specifically toward administrators.

Note: this can also be adapted into a featured presentation or a workshop.

Passionate Readers – The Art of Reaching and Engaging Every Child

With 28% of adults reporting that they have not read a book in the last 12 months, we are facing a mounting reading crisis.  So what can we, as the educators who teach this future generation of readers, do to create more engaging reading experiences?  In this session, based on the book Passionate Readers: The Art of Reaching and Engaging Every Child, 7th-grade teacher Pernille Ripp will help you re-discover the keys of creating a community of readers, no matter the constricts facing your time.  Focusing on teacher reading identity, classroom environment and library, as well as student reading identity, this is a session sure to inspire.  From re-thinking major literacy decisions to all of the small decisions we make daily; this is meant to be a practical session that will offer up ideas to be implemented the very next day.

Note: this can also be adapted into a featured presentation or a workshop.

Reimagining Literacy Through Global Collaboration

We all seem to discuss the need for global collaboration and get excited when others do it, but how do we bring this into our own environments?  Global collaboration isn’t meant to make more work for you, but instead meant to engage students and staff in a more authentic manner in already pre-existing learning.  Come to this workshop and find ways to fit global learning and global connections into what you are already doing, without the need to be 1to1 or have crazy amounts of technology.

Note: this can also be adapted into a featured presentation or a workshop.

Workshops:

I offer both a half-day or a full-day workshop based on needs.  Frequently requested workshops include, but are not limited to:

Passionate Learners – Empowering and Engaging Students

A full day or half-day workshop focused on attendees taking a journey through their current learning environment to find places they can incorporate change into for better student engagement.  This workshop focuses on the practical implementation of change in key areas such as classroom setup, homework policies, assessment practices, as well as personalization of curriculum.  This workshop is one meant to empower attendees in their current practices while inspiring them to create meaningful change opportunities.

Creating a Passionate Literacy Community

We have the tools to help us be literacy teachers but how do we create passionate literacy environments? This workshop or keynote focuses on all the extra things we can implement in our classrooms as we help students become invested and excited about our literacy communities. Whether we start small with choice and voice in the classroom, personalize our literacy program, to creating global collaborative projects, passion is easy to re-ignite in literacy as long as you have the ideas and the trust in yourself to try them.

Attendees will leave with a plethora of new strategies, as well as “try-tomorrow” ideas for how to create a literacy environment that students want to be a part of.

Featured Presentations:

Personalized Learning – A Journey Toward a Better Way of Teaching

For teachers and schools just starting out on their personalized learning journey, this focuses on all of the small changes that lead to truly personalized learning environments through the 5 tenets of choice.  Using a blend of personal experience, story-telling, as well as practical how-to’s participants leave with ideas they can implement right away for an immediate change.

A Picture Book Taught Me This

While picture books are a staple of the elementary classroom, there often is no place for them with our older students, yet these are the students that need picture books the most.  Discover how picture books can help older students close read, conquer complex message, become stronger writers, as well as spark their love of reading again all through the use of carefully selected picture books.

Reimagining Literacy Through Global Collaboration

Have you ever wondered what can happen when you integrate technology into your literacy instruction?  Pernille Ripp and her students have been reading, writing, and discussing with the world since 2010, fundamentally changing the way she teaches and how her students read and write.  Join us as we share ideas for how technology can take your literacy instruction to a new level, including ways to use Skype, Twitter, Edmodo, blogging, and many other tech tools that will allow for global collaboration, cross-curricular projects, and sparking the love of reading and writing in students.

Using Grades for Good – Yes, It’s Possible

For years, students have had their work defined by our assessments and grades but now is the time for change. It is possible to have a limited grade, better assessment classroom where students embrace the learning rather than the letter within our public school system. Join in as we discuss how to do better assessment that empowers students, rather than leaves them powerless.

Fees

Fees are flexible, as are sessions, consulting, as well as whether on-site teaching is desired.  All sessions will be customized to fit your needs, environment, and learning target.   I only do a limited amount of sessions every year during the school year so these get booked quickly.

Professional Development and Consulting

I have been fortunate enough to lead professional development across North America in-person in school districts and at conferences, as well as globally through webinars, conferences, and into classrooms presentations. Participants leave my workshops feeling energized, inspired, and ready to change the way they teach.

I have done consulting for companies such as Adobe, Skype, Microsoft, and Fuhu as well as individual schools and districts.

The Full Story

We stood staring at Plymouth Rock yesterday marveling at the history it represents.  At what it means for this nation that I have adopted as my home.  As we turned around we saw the statue of Massasoit, Chief of the Wampanoag tribe, on the hill, peering out to sea.  His image followed me into the car and I finally asked my husband, “Why on the hill?”  Why not right next to this monument that marks what many consider the beginning of America?  How many people miss this part of the story, marvel at the survival skills of those early Pilgrims, and do not think of the rest of the story; the other part of this complicated history of America?  Surely you must understand both sides to truly see the bigger picture…

It reminds me of my own work; how often do we, as teachers, just see the obvious?  The traits that show up on the very first day, that dominate our conversations and we never find the time to dig deeper?  We never “hike up the hill” to take a closer look at what we think lurks right there but that is hidden from view at first?  We don’t have time, we have so many kids, we have so much to do, and so our story continues single-mindedly for many of our students no matter the glimpses we see?

As many of us prepare to hand off our kids to the next team of teachers, may we find the time to tell the full story.  To sure, share the dominant things we have seen, but also the things that may be so easily seen.  To not tell the full story of a child in just data.  To not tell the full story of a child in just their behaviors.  To not tell the full story of a child in just the obvious, but dig a little deeper.  To make sure that our narrative is nuanced, balanced, and hopeful.  To give those teachers waiting to make a difference a chance at who this kid really is and not just the things that may have been the main talking point all year.

I think of the power we hold as the previous teachers of these kids.  Of how we decide what gets shared.  Of how we decide what is told.  Of how we decide what to focus on and we pass that on to the teachers that do not know them yet.  So tell the full story, and if you don’t have the full story yet find it before it is too late.  I know I still have work to do.

If you like what you read here, consider reading any of my books; the newest called Reimagining Literacy Through Global Collaboration, a how-to guide for those who would like to infuse global collaboration into their curriculum, was just released.  I am currently working on a new literacy book, called Passionate Readers and it will be published in the summer of 2017 by Routledge.If you are looking for solutions and ideas for how to re-engage all of your students consider reading my very first book  Passionate Learners – How to Engage and Empower Your Students.      Also, if you are wondering where I will be in the coming year or would like to have me speak, please see this page.