I have a confession to make…

I have a confession to make.  I had a behavior chart in my classroom. For EVERY KID! GASP!

When I first started teaching, that is what I thought you did.  That is what many of the classroom teachers had when I was student teaching.  Kiddos would start off the day with a smiley face.  They would move down to a straight line face and then a frowny face.  OR students would start at a green light and go down to yellow or heaven help them, RED.  GASP!  My cooperating teachers would write down Parent Communication folders what color their child was on.  Big brothers and sisters would walk by and ask “What color is my brother on?!”

So, when it was my turn to have my own classroom, I thought I needed one too.  I remember spending hours making little red circles, little yellow circles, and little green circles.  These were then attached with Velcro to each students’ chart.  I was so proud.  The kiddos would be able to switch their lights and “tada!” classroom management.

I quickly found out that this did not work.  My kiddos didn’t seem to care about moving their light.  It didn’t matter to them.  Who cares if you have to spend 5 minutes in from recess- especially on the days that were icky.

I then moved to a sticker chart for every kiddo.  If a kiddo helped out a friend, if they picked up without being asked, etc. etc. they would get a little sticker to put on their chart.  When they had 5 stickers, they got to pick a prize from the prize box.   While it was good in theory, (kiddos helping others) I noticed many kiddos just did good things to get that sticker.  Plus, it was a LOT of work on my part.  Keeping track, finding little prizes, etc.  Bah.  I was done with it.

So, I became brave.  With encouragement from my #kinderchat peeps (Don’t know about #kinderchat? They are the most awesome group of educators- you’ll hear about them a lot if you keep reading this blog) I gave up on a behavior chart system this past school year.  No lights, no moving clips, no Class Dojo, and no little sticker charts.  We started the school year learning about each other and building relationships with one another.  We worked things out if problems came up.  Was it easy everyday? No.  Were there some days where I had to dip into my emergency stash of chocolate and take some Advil?  You know it.  BUT at the end of the day my kiddos knew that I was proud of them (or wanting them to try again) with out the use of a behavior system.   Were there special circumstances where some kiddos needed something extra?  Absolutely.  BUT that was done between me and the child.

If YOU want to have a behavior chart in your room… you go ahead.  You need to do what works for you.  You are the one that has to get through the day.  You are the one that has to be with those little people.  You gotta do what you gotta do.  I’ll support you in your decision.  BUT if you are ready to be brave and not have a behavior chart, I’ll be here cheering you on!  Plus, I’ll have some chocolate and Advil on the days you need it!

10 thoughts on “I have a confession to make…

  1. Love this confession. Wonder how many secret behavior chart teachers are out there. Probably not on #kinderchat Behavior charts were never my thing, resisted them like crazy. 😒

  2. I had a a behaviour chart chart one year (actually for three days) because my student teacher wanted to try one, so she went ahead and made a red, yellow, and green stoplight along with everyone’s name on their own clothes peg so that it could be moved away from green when necessary. We explained what the chart was for, what it meant, and what would happen if you got to red (time out). Well. After the third child got to red – and was the third child to be soooo excited about reaching that goal – I slowly phased it out (ie. took it down on Friday after school and hid it in my cupboard). Your new method works much better – and is a lot less work to manage!

  3. As a teacher AND as a parent, I strongly dislike the green light –> red light system. Both of my kids have had it in elementary school. My daughter, who was a great student, felt horrible about herself if she had a yellow or the rare red day.

    My son, who has impulse control issues anyway, had yellow, orange, or red days almost every day. It became a source of stress every day when he came home, and told me what color day he had. The system made it virtually impossible for him to have a green day. Halfway through the year, his difficulty in getting a green day made him feel like his teacher didn’t like him. He kind of gave up trying.

    I’m glad your year without any sort of behavior chart was a success! I bet overall, everyone felt better about themselves and their school experience!

  4. Congratulations on a fabulous new system and a brave confession Erin. You are a very special teacher- reflective, brave and caring- there’s no better combination. <3

  5. I’m dying here! LOL! Isn’t it interesting how we try things out, different things every year, and then find them a flop either because they are so labor intensive or because the kids lose interest and it stops being effective.
    Great confession!

  6. I’m with you! Sure, in some cases they are helpful, but I really dislike the focus it puts on “bad” behaviour. Much prefer the relationship building. Thanks for your confession.

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