Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Color Chart

When I reflect on things that work well in my room, the first thing that I think of is our Color Chart. This is my behavior management system. Last year I used a simple green, yellow, red chart with clothespins. Each child had a clothespin with their name on it. At the beginning of the day everyone was on green. If I had to speak to a child about breaking a classroom rule, they would move their clothespin to yellow as a visual warning. Then, if their behavior continued, they would move down to red. I really dislike taking away recess, so if a child is on yellow they walk 3 laps outside around the playground before playing, and then come talk to me about why they are on yellow, and what they will do to get back on green. (I always allow students to "work their way back up.") Children on red receive an appropriate consequence, depending on which rule they broke. For example, if they broke a rule while at computer station, they would loose computer time.

I have essentially the same system this year, however I spruced up my behavior chart. I got this idea from Rick Morris and his Clip Chart. This year I have the typical green, yellow, red, but I also added blue and purple sections above the green section.

My husband helped me build this color chart out of wood. We then painted it with magnetic primer (available at Lowes) and then taped off the sections, before spray painting each color. You will notice the green portion is slightly larger than the other parts because this is where all the students start their day out. I wrote each student's name on an index card, laminated the cards, and then put a magnetic strip on the back.

If I notice a student exhibiting above average or great behaviors I move their name up to blue. If I see outstanding behavior then the student moves their name to purple. Students on blue and purple get 5 extra minutes of play time at recess. In addition, if a student is on purple they get to pick a "Purple Star Coupon." These coupons have things like
  • Eat lunch with the teacher
  • Teacher for the day
  • Pick out of the treasure chest
  • Extra computer time
If a student earns up to purple I add a purple star sticker to their name tag to show their great achievement. Some students have many stars on their names, and others are working in the new year to earn a purple star sticker.

I have found that this helps me keep a positive spin on behavior management. Last year the children who followed the rules rarely got the praise they deserved. Now, those students that set good examples can quickly be recognized and rewarded for their behavior. It also allows the class to see examples of "blue" and "purple" behavior and try to follow these role models.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Back in the Swing of Things!

I hope everyone had a great first week back after break! I know Monday was a little crazy for my class, but surprisingly we had a great week in room 102. I got some great advice from my aunt, a retired, veteran teacher last Sunday night. She reminded me to plan lessons that would ensure success for every child.

I immediately went back to my plans, which I thought were done, and realized my mistake. I thought we would go back on Monday and jump right back into the swing of things. However, when I started thinking about it, I realized that most of my students probably had very little structure over winter break and so coming back to a strict schedule with high expectations might be too shocking to their little systems. So, I treated Monday like a second, first day of school. We went back over class rules and I even re-taught some procedures. This worked great and every day I added a little more rigor to my lessons, so by Friday we were up and running at full force.

I am hoping to post some pictures of some of things that I have found work well in my classroom soon.  I hope that writing this blog will not only help me be a reflective teacher and thus a stronger teacher, but also share some of my learning experiences and achievements with other new teachers.

I have found such inspiration in reading other teacher's blogs. I am so glad I found this community of bloggers and can't wait to share my own ideas as a newer teacher.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Welcome to my Blog!

In an effort to be a more reflective practitioner, I have decided to start 2011 off by keeping a record of my  thoughts and conclusions from Room 102. As a newer teacher, I have struggled with balancing all the responsibilities of being a teacher and finding a way to have the greatest impact on my students with limited resources.

I recently had coffee with a friend, who is in her first year of teaching. She asked me if I have a better handle on the demands of being a teacher now that I am in my third year of teaching. My gut reaction was, "No way!"  But then when my friend asked me specifically for one area where I feel I have improved from last year, I found I was actually able to list several facets of my instruction and classroom management that I know I changed for the better after my first year of teaching.

So, I suppose I am making baby steps and even though I feel like there are not enough hours in the day to plan everything with the detail and organization I would like, my reflections are doing some good. I chose to share these thoughts with the hope that some first year teacher will find comfort in the fact that they are not alone in their frustrations. And no matter what kind of school setting, or how challenging your position is,  it is possible to have high expectations and experience the amazing feeling of knowing your children have made progress because of your efforts.

Now, off to work on my plans for January!