Saturday, July 12, 2014

Yes I Used One

I've been reflecting. Two things have intersected at this moment to create this blog post. Currently some blog friends are doing a book study on challenging behaviors. So I've been thinking about my year and the challenging behaviors I had. And then #kinderblog14 challenged me to write THAT post that has been brewing. I didn't have this post in my drafts folder but it's been lingering in my mind for a while - a long while. Then Pernille Ripp has been posting about her classroom. (Yes, I know that is a third thing.) And I've been thinking about next year - how my classroom needs to function. Since my principal cited classroom management as an area that needs improvement. (A fourth thing. What can I say? Everything in my brain becomes a mash-up.)

So - the point - I have been using a behavior chart* in my classroom. There. I said wrote it.

I haven't written it before now because...well...I don't like admitting it. And I'm afraid of what you are thinking about me right now. But, there it is.

Last year was, well, my first year. So I struggled with creating the classroom environment I wanted. In the middle of the year, I came across the clip chart idea and decided to try it. I liked this particular version the best because you could go up and down - you could have those second chances and recognize a child's hard work in self-control. It worked okay. But it wasn't the tool I wanted for my classroom. I wanted a classroom more like Mrs. Ripp's. So I didn't put it up in my classroom for the beginning of the year.

And then I was displaced and moved to another school. Two weeks in.

Someone helping me found the clip chart in my boxes of stuff and placed it on the wall. I thought about it and noticed that it matched what the other teachers in the school were doing. So I used it. Not as thoroughly as it should be, I think. Because I was still struggling to create a community environment and this didn't seem to fit in.

I used lots of other techniques and this became just another tool in the system. (Not a very effective one but often a desperate one.)

But it bothered me. I knew which clips would go down regularly. I knew which clips would probably go up. It was hard for me to "reward" a child for doing what was expected. We should reinforce meeting expectations but this more visual/tangible way didn't seem just right to me.

This chart didn't/doesn't fit who I am as a teacher - it clashes with my philosophy.

But I still used it. Even as I watched it not work for me and my students.

So I'm kicking it. If When I have my new classroom, I'm going to work to build a strong community. I'm going to keep trying to practice ways (that have worked for me in the short run in the past) to put the responsibility for behavior management back in the hands where it belongs - the kids themselves. I cannot manage them; I can give them the tools they need to manage themselves.

And, let's face it, most behavior issues arise because of what I am doing to create the learning environment. When I'm struggling with attention or off-task behavior, usually I'm not engaging them in the learning appropriately. Should a student move a clip because the environment isn't meeting his needs? Hmm.

So I'm changing. I'm going to give kids the tools they need to self-manage and adjust the environment as needed to fit their needs. How will I do that? I'm still working and thinking on that. But the clip chart won't be in my room this year.

*Note: If you use a behavior chart and it works for you, great. It doesn't fit with my overall philosophy.


  1. Wow, Scott, good for you for recognizing something that wasn't working for you and making and effort to change for the better. You put it best yourself when you wrote, "I cannot manage them; I can give them the tools they need to manage themselves." Best of luck as you create the community that both you and your students deserve next year!

  2. I remember the few times I was "encouraged" to use a behavior chart and how it went against everything I believed about children, teaching and learning. Needless to say I don't and haven't for a very long time. Thank you for sharing your struggles and understandings of this isn't for you.

  3. I've been teaching for 2 years, and classroom management was something my administration cited as an area for improvement as well, so I continued using the clip chart this past year. I think it helped me be more consistent, but it still didn't feel right. I've been reading several blogs that suggest throwing out the clip chart, and I'm doing that this year as well. I'm tired of using a shaming mechanism as a strategy to improve behavior in my class; it's not right! If you haven't already, check out

  4. Second the Wow. I have a major bias against behavior charts. I've never used a clip chart, but from what I have seen of them one would not have found it's way into my classroom. I involved the children in setting the classroom rules and expectations. This holds them to a different accountability point than if I just make the rules. It was really about respect all around. There were consistent consequences when rules were not followed. I also worked hard to find positive events to encourage every child everyday. Not false praise, but encouragement. All that has been carried over into my work with very young children.