On the first day of school, I think it is important to come up with classroom agreements as a class. First, I asked my students what kind of classroom environment they would like to have. I then explained that we needed to come up with classroom agreements about the way we should treat each other, how we should answer and ask questions, what we should do when people are talking, how we can help each other and how the students should work. I prefer ‘classroom agreements’ opposed to ‘rules’ because I wanted something the whole class could feel ownership of and understand that the classroom agreements would help us to achieve the type of classroom environment they wanted.
The class came up with: we treat others the way we would like to be treated, we put our hand up to answer and ask questions, we try our best, we celebrate each other’s success, we listen when someone is talking and we are a team. I also took photos of the students demonstrating the classroom agreement. Click here to see the post on Five White’s class blog.
The agreements are placed at the front of the classroom and are referred to when students are following and not following them.
How did you create classroom agreements/class rules with your class?
It is so important that teachers are not yelling over the top of students or raising their voice all day trying to get the class to be quiet. Attention grabbers need to be quick and simple. There are so many different ways of grabbing our students’ attention, including:
- Ringing a bell
- Teacher: ‘1,2,3’ Students: ‘Eyes on me’
- Teachers asks students to put their hands on their heads, nose, shoulders, knees, lips …
- Asking students to raise their hands in the air
- Teacher: ‘Boom, chicka, boom’ Students: repeat (T repeats, getting quieter every time)
- Variation of Simon Says – Teacher models actions while saying ‘do this’ and students copy. When teacher says ‘do that’ instead of ‘do this’, the students are not to copy. If they do, they are out.
Click here for more great ideas.
Getting students to the floor can often be a struggle at times as they somehow find the longest way possible to get to the floor! Encourage your students to get to the floor quickly by playing a video for them to watch or dance to. I find that the students love coming to watch a funny video or dance as a brain break between lessons. I always like to praise the students who get to the floor quickly and stop what they are doing and listen. Click here to take a look at the videos I have pinned on Pinterest.
How do you grab the attention of your students?
If you’re a teacher, then I bet you could name the students in your class who take forever to complete work and those that finish really quickly, without even thinking about it!
It is so important that the students who finish their work early have something meaningful to do until it is time to move on to the next lesson. It also teaches them effective management skills as they are being productive with their time and not becoming bored and distracting others.
The expectations should be made very clear to the students. Once their work has been marked and they have been given the go ahead, they are to complete an activity from the fast finisher poster (before this you may give the students an extension activity related to the lesson).
You might like to provide the students with an exercise book which they can specifically use for the fast finisher tasks (as an alternative to the poster, you might like to provide the students with the following list to glue on the inside cover of the book).
The fast finisher poster may list the following:
- Complete any unfinished work
- Fast finisher booklet (may include a range of activities from practicing multiplication tables to researching something they are interested in)
- Read a book
- Read the class blog and write a comment
- Use the educational apps on the iPads
- Play an educational game on the computer
- List of websites the students can visit
- Educational board games
- Practise multiplication tables
- Practise spelling words
- Complete story starters
How do you cater for the fast finishers in your class?
There are some students who can just be difficult to teach and seem to not want to complete any task you set. So what can you do?
One strategy is to adapt instruction. You can’t make anyone do anything, but you can change what you do. You can control what happens in the classroom.
As teachers, we can change the antecedent and the consequences in hope of changing a student’s behaviour.
Example: A student has ADHD and has difficulty reading. He usually begins to fidget with things on his desk or walks around the classroom, distracting his peers in order to avoid completing the set activities. The teacher often ignores him and does not follow up on the work that he has not completed.
- Antecedent: Telling the student to complete difficult work independently
- Behaviour: Student fidgets and walks around the classroom to talk to peers
- Consequence: Teacher ignores student and does not follow up on work
In this case, the student may need the work to be modified and further explained. It is also important for the student to feel comfortable with the teacher and in the classroom in order to tell the teacher when he doesn’t understand or is stuck. Paired work and class discussion may also be beneficial.
When the student begins to fidget with the materials on his desk, the materials should be removed in order to eliminate the distraction.
The teacher should change the consequence to include positive reinforcement and the implementation of achievable goals for each lesson/day. At the end of the day, the teacher may discuss with the student how he felt that day, what he did well and what he can improve on.
Click here for a blank ABC chart for you to use.
Click here for more information.
The next time a student is exhibiting undesirable behaviour – think about what you can do. Look at what you are doing before and after the student’s behaviour.
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Every good teacher needs a good behaviour management strategy. Through my study and experiences in the classroom, positive reinforcement is the best strategy. However, it is often neglected.
Positive reinforcement is all about reinforcing good behaviour by praising students when they have displayed the desired behaviour. This is in direct contrast to negative consequences which focuses on the bad behaviour and punishes the student for the undesired behaviour.
Through my observations I have seen two different teachers take these two approaches with the same class of students. One teacher distributed raffle tickets to the students who displayed positive behaviour (raising their hand to answer a question, sit quietly, complete their work to the best of their ability…) while the other teacher asked the student to write their name on the board and place strikes next to their name each time they did something wrong (call out, argue with a student etc).
The students were much better behaved for the teacher who praised the good behaviour and ignored the undesired behaviours.
I strongly believe teachers need to focus on positive reinforcement. This is not to say that there is no place for negative consequences, however I believe they should be used as a last resort and second to positive reinforcement.
Positive reinforcement is used in the hope that over time the reinforcers will be used less as the students become intriniscally motivated.
Implementing Positive Reinforcement
– Raffle Tickets
- Draw two raffle tickets at the end of each week out of a shoe box
- The two students chosen can then choose a small prize from the prize box/choose their reward from the class reward list
– Merit Awards
- Merit awards are handed out to students for good behaviour
- When the students receive 5 merit awards they are able to choose a prize from the prize box/choose their reward from the class reward list
– Sticker Chart
- Stickers are handed to the students for good behaviour and they place them on the chart next to their name.
- When the students receive 5 stickers they are able to choose a prize from the prize box/choose their reward from the class reward list
What do you think about positive reinforcement?
How are you implementing positive reinforcement in your classroom?
Image: Paul Gooddy / FreeDigitalPhotos.net