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Sunday, October 14, 2012

Why I Will Never Use a Behavior Chart Again

I know from all the clip charts and behavior charts I have seen on Pinterest that this statement has probably already raised a couple of eyebrows, but I hope you'll hear me out anyway.

A few days ago one of my colleagues, (who is a great teacher, wonderful mom, and all around awesome person) sat down at our team meeting and said, "I want you to know that I am never using a behavior color chart again!"

I stopped using those charts years ago and I couldn't have been happier to hear her say that!  And, it seems, her reason for saying it was not that different from my reason for letting those charts go.  Her own sweet first grader had come home from school the day before, completely crushed after being put on "red"on the color chart.  A sweet boy who wants nothing more than to please his teacher and do the right thing at school.  I'm sure he did something he shouldn't have or tried his teacher's patience one too many times, but that child will not walk into that classroom with his head held high tomorrow.

 I remembered my own son coming home from Kindergarten, day after day, in tears because he just couldn't seem to stay on 'green'.  He wanted so badly to behave.  He wanted to please his teachers. He wanted mom and dad to be proud of him.  But his impulsivity did not allow him to keep himself in check for the whole school day.  Every time she moved that clip, he was being reminded that he wasn't good enough for his teacher.  That kindergarten year was one of the hardest years our family has endured.  It is utterly heartbreaking to hear your child say things like, "I hate myself.  Why can't I be good?  My teacher hates me.  I'm not good enough."  Tears are dropping on the keyboard as I remember those moments.
Now that he is being treated for ADHD,  he is much happier at school and doing well, but that color chart just about destroyed my son.

I began to look at my students through different eyes and imagine what they must be feeling.

Some are ADHD like my little guy and are battling their own bodies for control each day, some are coming from homes so broken and troubled it's just astounding, and many are simply neglected and left to be raised by siblings or television.  I really had to stop and realize that my wishes for their classroom behavior were superceded by their own complicated lives.

This realization led me to discover a few things about color charts, both from using them and seeing them used in my own children's classrooms.

  •  They track behavior, but they do not change it.
  • For kids who are not able to adhere to the cultural expectations of school, the chart can be absolutely demoralizing.  And this seems to be mostly boys - hmmm.
  • The chart makes the assumption, before the kid ever crosses the threshold of the classroom door, that he is going to misbehave.  Ouch.
  • As much as we try to make that chart seem like a 'reminder' and not a negative thing, it is still embarrassing to many children.
  • Even kids who always stay on 'green', often feel stress and worry as they watch some of their classmates repeatedly move on the color chart.
I know many proponents of the charts say that some kids just need the reminder to get back on track.  They see their clip moved and they want to get back on green.  The children know the chart is not a negative thing - it's just a way to encourage them to do the right thing.  They need consequences for negative behavior.  And the newer charts reward positive behavior.  It works for me and my kids like it.
I hear and understand all of these beliefs - some of them are very valid.  I held them, too.

But, I just ask you to place yourself in that little person's shoes, looking up at the teacher they want to impress (yes, even the disobedient, defiant, disrespectful ones:)  and imagine how they see themselves.  How they feel.  What will they take away from the experience?


I just have to say that after using the charts, then letting them go and doing something different, I can't buy into my old color chart anymore.  Kids do need reminders to stay on track.  They do need consequences for negative behavior, and we should reward positive behavior.  But not by causing stress, worry, and shame.  I had to become a mommy and feel my own child's pain to see that.

So, the next logical question is "If I don't use a clip chart, what do I do?"  The very same question I asked myself (many times!)  The answer is actually a long one and is really a journey rather than an answer, but I would encourage you to look into some new ideas, see what else is out there, and give it a try:)  While it was oh-so difficult for me, I am so glad that I stepped out of my comfort zone!

A few years ago, my school decided to use the Responsive Classroom approach which changed my thinking completely about classroom discipline. (I am not really touting RC as the best around, because it's just one of several great approaches out there to building a positive classroom community.  There are other similar programs with similar tenets.  This is just the one with which I am most familiar.)  The way that RC builds community, helps children internalize social skills, and responds to behavior is so powerful.

I will leave you with one idea that could possibly take the place of a clip chart move.  My school uses a  "Take a Break" space.  This is not a traditional "Time Out".  This is a place in the classroom where children can take a moment to decompress, take a breather, or think about making different choices.  The students often go there on their own, but sometimes are asked to go there by the teacher.  The student will only stay there for about 1 or 2 minutes and  I use an egg timer so kids don't stay too long.
The basket includes a mirror because sometimes it helps a kid to see the emotion on his own face in order to recognize it.  There are squishy balls for squeezing the tension away, a few cue cards for self calming, and a timer to remind kids not to stay too long.  There usually is a little stuffed cat in the box, too - wonder where it went!?  Someone must have needed a little snuggle for the road:) 





Goodness, I know my thoughts went way too long and I hope I haven't upset anyone who really loves using clip charts.  I know there are teachers who have found behavior charts to be very successful in their classrooms.  I just wanted to share my observations and experiences and maybe remind us all to take a closer look at our little people from a different perspective.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!
~Nikki

P.S.  If you would like the directions and printables to set up a Take A Break station in your classroom or home, you can purchase the file HERE on TPT.

Want more ideas on what to do instead of a clip charts?
  Click here:




213 comments:

  1. Thanks so much for this really awesome idea. I have had great success with behaviour charts but for some reason this year they have failed me dismally due to certain dynamics in my classroom, I cannot wait to implement this idea. Will commence tomorrow :) I hope it is not too late though as it is the fourth term of the year already. As the saying goes " Nothing ventured, nothing gained! " Here goes...

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    1. I hope it helps in your class. I know the Take A Break space is only one small component of classroom management, but at least it gives the kid and teacher a small break from each other. Sometimes that's all we need! Then the kid comes back and tries again and I have had a moment to have my patience renewed:) We smile and move on like nothing happened!

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    2. Thank you for posting this. My son's teacher uses the clip chart and it is crushing his spirit when he has to move it down. We are both praying about alternatives and I am going to let her know about this. Thanks.

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    3. A friend of mine posted this on FB. My son has been humiliated, cried, got in trouble at home this year because of these charts, and we have never had a problem before in his previous school. I finally figured out this wasn't his fault as I begin to question his reasons for moving down on a chart.He is in pre-K, and the teacher just recently changed it to another type of system after she put him on another system. We will see how this one works out... but a big "THANK YOU" is in order for this post as I will now have this to show her we are not the only ones who go through this...and hopefully she won't have to see it in another "come to Jesus" meeting with me,

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  2. Hi Nikki,

    Thankyou for writing this post. I teach in Australia where we don't use behavior charts, then moved to the US and hated that I had to use one - I would have children throwing tantrums at the end of the day because they were on red - unfortunately, this boy didn't fit the mould of school and this system wasn't helping him at all. Now I am back in Australia, I feel much better.

    What do I do instead - well we have classroom essential agreements, I set high expectations and put intervention in for those children who need it - simple, no system, very individualised. Good luck getting your ideas out there to others!

    Alison
    Teaching Maths with Meaning

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    1. I agree - high expectations and no one size fits all system. I don't think I will change anyone's mind right away, but I do hope we can continue to examine our teaching practices and remember the tremendous effect we have on our little people:)

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    2. Alison
      My classroom functioned just like yours, and even in the most challenging of school locations, the students were caring, respectful and engaged--without behaviour charts. Like spelling test charts, names on the board, and point systems, anything that promotes public humiliation works against a happy, safe environment for all children.

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    3. Sounds a lot like the program our Kindergarten school uses, Conscious Discipline. You should check it out!

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    4. I am seriously considering this approach. Behavior/clip charts can also be time-consuming, and become too much of a focus of the day!

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    5. really made me think, gonna try!

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  3. I have found a lot of success with the positive clip chart, and I am careful with the language I use. Students know that they can always move back up, which helps. I find it to be effective for my kids to track their behavior, not just me. But I also have had one or two students that the clip chart does not work for, because they would always be on red, and in that case, I use a different system with that student. I have also had a time out sort of area for students for when they just need a little break, and I really like the idea of putting a mirror there. Thanks for making me think about Why I do what I do, and if I can make it better!

    Jenny
    Luckeyfrog's Lilypad

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    1. I'm glad you've had success with it. I agree that no matter what system we use for classroom management, teacher language has the power to shore up or tear down. And you're right - we have to remember to think about why we do what we do:)

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  4. My daughter is in third this year. It's the first year she has ever had to move her card. She came home absolutely petrified to tell me that her card was moved. She thought I'd hate her. She hid from me for two hours. And we have always been close enough that she's told me everything. And I'm not even sure if she believed me when I told her I wasn't angry. "But my card was moved!" was all she could say, over and over. It truly made me angry at the system.

    I don't use the charts, and haven't for ages. I feel like they keep me in a negative frame of mind for my school day. Everytime I would look at a turned card, I would be reminded of the behavior that upset me. But the problem with the charts is that it's not the behavior that we are tracking, it's the kid. So instead of being able to reflect on how I should try to change this behavior, I was focused on WHO had done it. And that does not make for a good relationship. So I am done with charts. And will remain so.

    Now, to decide what to do about my daughter's experience? She does not want me to say anything to the teacher. But I am struggling...

    Wonderful post! Inspired me for a future blog post of my own.

    ~Heather
    The Meek Moose

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    1. My oldest son sounds a lot like your daughter. He is a teacher's dream student - well behaved, excellent work habits, good grades, etc. The color charts bothered him so much! He was constantly worried that he would do something wrong and get a color change. The first time he got a change, he was mortified! He was so hard on himself and responded much like your daughter. His teachers had created a system that caused an easy going kid to be stressed out about making a mistake. The opposite of our entire job description!

      I agree about the chart causing a negative frame of mind. Just having those spaces for the clips to move down assumes that children are going to cause disruption, and then everyone who looks at it can focus on the negative:(

      I hope your daughter can find some peace. I actually had a very frank discussion with my boys (probably around 2nd or 3rd grade) and explained that some teachers choose to use methods that aren't always the best idea. We talked about the teacher's true motivations, which were most likely positive, albeit a bit misguided. I was really taking a risk in having that conversation because I did not want my boys to lose respect for their teachers. On the other hand, I did not want them to lose respect for themselves. They needed to know that we grow from our mistakes and our difficulties.

      I'm looking forward to reading your future post on the subject!

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    2. Please respect the teacher and their choice. Do not become those helicopter parents who have to confront the teacher about everything that does not work for your child. Instead, teach your child that mistakes are a part of life and we all make them. If this teacher uses a behavior chart system, how can I teach my child to adapt and show them how to make positive choices if they have to "pull a card".
      And for Pete's sake, of course you see undermining the teacher when you discuss with your boys how the "teacher is making a mistake using that system". Way to promote disrespect.
      I don't even use a system like this but your two posts fired me up.

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  5. We have to use a chart because it is part of our school's program, however, I rarely have to use it. I love your "relax" area idea- I might have to incorporate it! I also believe that if I'm doing everything I can to keep kids engaged and individually address issues, I don't have to rely on the chart. I have used it some (again, because I have to), but it is most often after conversations and/or redirections. Thanks for the new ideas!
    Come over and enter my giveaway today- it ends tomorrow!
    Erin
    First with Franklin

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    1. I agree - if we've really made sure our kids know expectations and procedures and keep them engaged, there aren't too many issues:)

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  6. I've never liked the charts either. They're way too public and do more harm than good. You said it all better than I could. I see them all over classrooms, blogs, and pinterest and think, "Am I the only one who doesn't use them?" I guess I'm not! Thank you for boldly sharing your thoughts. I'm with you all the way!

    ❀ Tammy
    Forever in First

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    1. Nope - you're not the only one! We need to share alternative ideas more often so more teachers can reflect on the use of behavior charts:)

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  7. This so makes me happy to hear there are teachers choosing to try a different method. Sometimes it takes your own child to show you some things don't work. We also have to use a chart but I rarely have to use it. Once you create a positive community, the kids want it to stay that way.

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    1. I am glad to see that I have received so many favorable replies to this post - very encouraging!

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  8. I really like this idea Nikki. It encourages self regulation and isn't at all demoralising.

    I read an article not so long ago about publicly viewed behaviour systems and how they can really affect the self esteem of some students. I scoffed as I read it, but the following week I kept thinking about it and realised that public shaming- because it is public, and the child has to feel some sort of shame in order to want to change and exhibit good behaviour- is just cruel. I love this alternative!

    Teacher Kirra:Maestra Kirra

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    1. I also think it does not just effect the kids who are having their cards moved.

      I was so struck by the reaction of my oldest son who has never had any behavior issues, always well behaved, good student, etc.

      The color charts made him feel a great deal of stress, constantly worried about doing something wrong or upsetting his teacher and getting a color change. Even though he didn't get color changes, the worry about the possibility of it was a distraction to him at school and caused unnecessary anxiety.

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  9. AMEN! to everything you said. You said it just the way I would have only better. I will never use a behavior chart again. I do something like your 'take a break'. It's called Stop & Think, Stop & Go. LOVE IT!! I also have much greater success with awarding positive behavior. I do something called 'Caught Ya's'. Love your blog!
    Petersons-Pad

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    1. I love the idea of 'Stop & Think, Stop & Go'! What a great way for kids need to learn how to reflect.

      Just read your post and my school uses something similar to 'Caught Ya's.' The kids do love it! Who doesn't like to be recognized for good stuff?:)



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  10. You might just have changed a "Behavior Chart" lover! I have read your points and feel like they are truly valid for multiple reasons. I am so glad I came across this today and am able to change my ways before I might leave an imprint I wish not to leave on a child. Thanks for the reflection! I can't wait to change things around. Your alternate plan is wonderful!

    Always A Lesson

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    1. Yay! If anything good could come out of sharing Jonathan's struggle - that's it!!

      Check out Responsive Classroom and Conscious Discipline - great resources for teachers who want to reach kids in a different way.

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  11. Awesome post! I've never used behavior charts and never will for all the reasons you mentioned.
    Barbara
    Grade ONEderful
    Ruby Slippers

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    1. Thanks! I have gotten such wonderful response from this post and teachers have been sharing so many terrific alternatives.

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  12. Hi!
    I totally agree with you! I have to say though not one system works for me every year! I have changed every now and then because the children differ so much! At the moment I have clouds up with "we say nice things l" " we share" " we are kind" etc and each child's name is on a peg and they just move from cloud to cloud as I catch them doing each of these so that even when they misbehave I can point over and remind them of how they were saying such nice things the other day while dealing with the misbehaviour.

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    1. Thank you. I love your cloud idea! I think I am going to borrow that one!!

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  13. Hi Nikki,
    Not sure if you are referring to younger children but I teach 10 year olds in Australia. What I found works for my grade is- goal setting with negotiation. Students take turns to be on focus every day and its a team effort. Every fortnight students set a few goals- one of them being behaviour. They plan steps to achieve it and how it can be measured. The rest of the students get on board to help the child achieve what he/she has set for their goal. The system takes a while till its in place but once it becomes a part of the routine makes managing behaviour a little less stressful.

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    1. I teach 6 and 7 year olds, so yes, they are younger than your students. But at home, my 2 oldest children are 10 and 12 so I can relate to that age as well:)
      I love your goal setting idea and the way the students all support each other in reaching their goals! What a great way to build community!

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  14. I agree! I have never used behavior charts, and I never will. I don't know anyone in their day to day lives that track their own behavior or the people around them:)I am a new follower!
    Tammy
    First Grade @ Storybook Cafe
    dtklinger@gmail.com

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    1. I blogged about this post too!
      Tammy

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    2. Good point! It's a good thing principals don't use color change charts for teachers:)

      Thanks for the mention in your post - I was just there and am following you, too!

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  15. Thank you! I've been saying this for a while. I have not used a chart for years for many of the reasons you stated.....plus I got tired of remembering to move the clips/cards! It wasted time to stop and walk to the chart or get the class "reporter" to worrying about what everyone else was doing....and you are right, its like we are waiting for them to misbehave! For me, I have found that as long as I am well organized and prepared and have effective routines and procedures in place our day goes very smoothly. Yes, I have challenging students. Many have heart breaking backgrounds that lead to challenging behaviors. I also teach a fully inclusive kindergarten class and have numerous students with special needs, developmental delays, or autism, who would neve be sucessful with a clip chart. Now, instead of focusing on the negative, I look for and praise the positive. Kids are happy, parents are happy, and I am happy. :)

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    1. I teach an inclusion class, too! I've had anywhere from 4 to 10 students with IEP's each year - same as you-developmental delays, autism, ADHD, ED, LD...
      Clip charts just wouldn't work. You are spot on about effective routines and procedures. When the class has a rough day or things seem to be falling apart, it's usually because I am not well prepared, keeping the pace, or following routines!

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  16. Thanks for the great ideas! I love your Take a Break area, I'm going to put one in my class when I get back from Fall Break!

    I'm your newest follower!

    Kelly @ I'm Not Your Grandpa, I'm Your Teacher

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    1. I hope it works for your class! (And I'm jealous that you get a fall break:)

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  17. I am getting such awesome ideas! I have used clip charts but never liked them or the time involved to implement them. I do use reward systems and love hearing about new and fun ways of dealing with challenging behaviours. Keep it up!! Thank you!

    Heather @ Having Fun in Grade One

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    1. I think I may start a linky for alternatives to behavior charts - stay tuned!

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  18. I could barely read your blog because of my nerves and tears. I have been helping at my child's school recently and witnessed the awful shame it brought to my own child and other kindergardeners. I can't stand the thought of another kid crying and destroying what should be a warm, safe place to learn. I was searching the internet for validation that this was negative and came across your bolg. I am meeting with the teacher and principal to discuss and wanted to be prepared with references for other methods. It is true, I taught before I had children and they change you as a teacher. It is such an honor to be a teacher and you are trusted to nurture their learning in the best way possible. Thank you for your words they have brought comfort to my restless soul that I am not in this alone. When we know better we do better!

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    1. Oh my goodness, your comment just broke my heart. I so completely understand what you are going through.

      I love "when we know better, we do better." It is the truth.
      You can check into Responsive Classroom and Conscious Discipline for more ideas to share with them.

      Also check back here. I am starting a linky for alternatives to behavior charts, so maybe you will come across some good ideas from other teachers!

      Good luck with your meeting and I do hope the teacher and principal decide to take a new path.

      Peace to you and your little one.

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  19. I find that as a newer teacher, this type of chart helps with my management. But as previous posters have said, I am careful with my language and realize that I have children that need something different. I only have them move it down if it is something that I have talked to them about several times, and they have recieved warnings. I have a boy in my class who gets 3 tickets, and he only moves his clip after I have taken all 3. When I see him doing what I ask he moves it up, and gets whatever tickets I have taken away returned. I can definitely see your take on it, but we use a grade level behavior system, so I cannot do away with it completely. I really try to use it more for the positive aspect, and really try to reinforce that with positive notes going home, and if they get off the chart they get to eat lunch with me. I can't wait to read some others ideas that I can use too!

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    1. Thanks so much for responding! All I really wanted was for teachers to think about it and be open to new ideas. I hope you find some things you can use:)

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  20. Wow! You are amazing!!! The greatest words of advice that you gave...a reminder to look at the student from a different perspective. I wish all teachers could think that way.

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    1. You are too kind:)

      I really just try to imagine how I would want a teacher to treat my own sons.
      Not every interaction with a kid is perfect, but I do try to remember they are someone's sweet baby:)

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  21. For years and years I have used a system of table points. I have 4 tables and each table has a mascot. They choose as a group from my box of stuffies. I usually change table groups once a term, but sometimes people need to be moved before then. Children earn table points for "doing what they're supposed to be doing". So as a teacher I had to learn to refocus my attention on positive behaviour. At the end of the week the table with the most points earns a prize from my prize box. When the kids get the routine then sometimes I start to take back table points when they do something that I am trying to train them out of. (like interrupting) This system has worked wonders for me in the past, but this year, it's just not enough. This year I am actually contemplating a behaviour chart for the whole class. I think it will work as long as I try to focus on the positivie and make sure children get a lot of opportunity to move up the chart, not just down.

    Sandra
    www.savvyteachingtips.blogspot.com

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    1. You're right - focus on the positive is the key. But it's exhausting, isn't it?:)
      Whole Brain Teaching has some great whole class ideas and it uses class points, too. This is the first year I have tried it, but I am amazed with the results!

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  22. Great post. I too, am a reformed "chart user". I dabbled in them in my early teaching days but it never felt right to me. Too much depended on my mood so I had difficulty being consistent. Also, I found myself "seeing" the negative behaviors way more often than I noticed the positive ones. I was always sort of abandoning their use and looking for more ways to use positive reinforcement and form connections in my classroom. Almost 2 years ago, I came across a handout someone had left behind that was from Conscious Discipline. There are a few things that I can say completely changed my view of something and that's one of them. I'm really glad to hear you mention it too because it really opens your eyes and heart to the damage that can be done by tradition rewards and punishment systems. Even the well meaning systems of rewarding positive behaviors create some unintended problems. A school in my area rewards kids who have made good choices by having them participate in a parade around the school to celebrate their success. You know who watches the parade of "winners" and is expected to cheer for them?...the kids who haven't made good choices. Ouch. I'm all for good sportsmanship, but I think that's too much to ask of the kids who are struggling to be successful. Conscious Discipline addresses how these kinds of systems create environments of "winners and losers, good kids and bad kids, haves and have nots". I will check out the Responsive Classroom resource you suggested. I suspect I'll really like it as well.

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    1. Oh my goodness - a parade of winners. Ouch is right!
      I don't know if you've ever visited Heather's Heart - http://heathersfirstgradeheart.blogspot.com/ but she has some absolutely BEAUTIFUL posts on Conscious Discipline. You must go check her out!

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  23. I wish there was a way to have this implemented for my son's school..he went through Kindergarden, and then 1st grade feeling bullied by his teacher, and feeling useless because no matter how hard he tried he would be put on "yellow" multiple times a week..

    He like your son has ADHD, but also Dyspraxia and some social/sensory things similar to high functioning Aspergers...and he just couldn't handle the noise/light in his class...now in 2nd grade he's got a teacher that totally gets it...and helps him and he's been doing well they still have the chart though, and everyday he announces how he stayed on green...and gets upset that we would assume he get a good card each day.

    I know had he not had such an abstract way to redirect behavior for the last two years it would have been helpful. Being given a card when you are not intending to be disruptive, and having the teacher not listen to you or be flexible or let you have time to calm down is hard...for him if his card got turned at the beginning of the day it ruined the rest of the day and he had a hard time keeping it to only yellow...

    THANK YOU, for seeing that there is a better way...and for helping those kids that just need a little more assistance/understanding than the color chart...I only wish all teachers cared as much as you do about what is REALLY going on with each child rather than simply expecting certain standards across the board.

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    1. I'm so sorry your son had that experience. It is so hard to fight against a system created by adults that diminishes our children.
      My son has sensory/social issues, too, and most likely falls on the autism spectrum so I completely understand. Most of his teachers thought a kid that made all A's should not have behavior issues and that made it even worse for him. He was held to expectations he could never meet.
      He finally had the most wonderful third grade teacher ever who "got him" and loved him for who he is. It changed his world! And now he has her again for 5th grade!
      Just having someone validate his feelings and help him maneuver his day made all the difference for him.

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  24. As someone who is new to the teaching world, I am extremely intrigued by the inconsistent use of the behavior clip chart in the third grade. I am currently a practicum student (yes, I know I'm VERY new!) at a title one school in Maryland and your post, along with much guidance and discussion with my practicum supervisor and cooperating teacher, has helped me come to these extremely important realizations about classroom management. The clip chart is used extremely inconsistently between the third grade classes. My cooperating teacher uses it as a guide, but is definitely more of a proponent of "silent cues" to get students to calm down or re-focus. On the other hand, the other two classrooms always have multiple students not on green by the end of the day, and they usually are the same (often the LD students) kids every day. I was especially intrigued by the one student in my class who is constantly shouting out and has no impulse control (not diagnosed at all...yet) who is always staying on green. You post helped me to make the connection and understand that it's about preserving the whole child and not focusing on the behavior which is often times, so beyond anyone's control. Thank you for helping me learn this so early on in my teaching career!!

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    1. Thank you so much for sharing! It sounds like you have good guidance right at the start of your career:)

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  25. Thank you for this wonderful post! I also do not, and will not, use behavior charts. I gave up the idea after student teaching, when I went home feeling awful every day. The same kids were always on red, with no improvement, and it felt like we were showcasing failures. I now have also come to the point in my career where I am equally opposed to "positive" sticker charts. After short term success being met with long term disaster, I needed a better way. Rather than trying to "manage" (aka survive) by bribing my kids with stickers and treats, I wanted something that helped them do things for the right reasons. It is harder in some ways, but deeper. Like you, I respect that everyone needs to find their path, but I think once you start to consider that we want to teach these kids for the long term, it really makes sense to move on from punishments and rewards. I second the recommendation of Conscious Discipline - it really helped me to build an understanding of how to build a more positive class environment from the inside out. Thanks for being brave and writing this!

    Karen
    Visit Teaching Ace!

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    1. You bring up an excellent point about not replacing clip charts with sticker rewards. Improperly rewarding behavior can be just as damaging.
      Thanks so much for responding and linking up!

      Delete
  26. All has been said in the other comments - I TOTALLY agree with you and have used take a break for many years...I sit there myself sometimes - we all need a break somedays!

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    1. Yes! I sit there, too! (I thought I was the only one!) What better model for how to take a break and make it a positive move than for the teacher to have a turn:)

      Delete
  27. I juat wanted to say thank you for posting this idea. The students in my Grade 1 class have presented me with a completely new dynamic that I have not dealt with after teaching for 20 years. My class is really struggling with social behaviors this year and I love how this idea allows them to simply check in on themselves. I also use targets or bullseyes and for those who struggle I make it so that they earn at least one a day for something that they have done well, even if it has been a bad day. They are given verbally with a high five. They love this too. Thanks again for your insight.
    Bev

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    1. Thanks for responding! We all get one of THOSE classes every once in a while! Sort of like the perfect storm:) I love that you find something positive in everyone everyday. We have to let them know what they're doing right so they'll do it again, right!?

      Delete
  28. Hi Nicki, Thanks for this post.
    Okay, I know I'm going to be in the minority here. I use the clip chart, but the kids can only move up. I don't even have the levels below "Ready to Learn". They all start at Ready to Learn, and can only move up. If they make a mistake, they do not move down. Usually a private conversation is all that is needed. But if chilren are making poor choices, then I feel there needs to be a consequence. Sometime a child has to miss a recess time, sometimes a child has to write an apology letter. Maybe even a phone call home. Most of the time, the other chilren "know" who is in "trouble", and hopefully everyone learns that they are responsible for their choices. I like the "time out" type of table, but to me, it's still just another way of moving "down" on the clip chart or behavior color chart. Everyone in class "knows" who is having a perceived problem. It's still public is what I'm trying to say. You must know your students for any classroom management system, and one size doesn't fit all.

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    1. The good thing about the 'Take A Break' space is that it is not a time out. Anyone can go there for any reason at any time during the day.

      Sometimes a kid will just go over and put her head down for a minute or two, then get up and come back. Sometimes a kid will be working on something and just get stuck. He can go over to the table and play with the stuffed cat or squeeze the squishy ball to get away from task for a moment. The kids don't see it as a negative place, but a peaceful place away from the busyness for a bit.

      Sometimes I sit there, too, so I can model when and how to use the space and reinforce that it is not a bad place to be, nor is it to be overused.

      So when I ask someone to go there, they know what it means and no one else bats an eye.

      But you're right, one size doesn't fit all and not every kid feels comfortable there. And that's okay. We have come up with a few options like a trip to the water fountain, or a walk to another classroom and back. The best part is that the kids own it and make it work!

      Thank you so much for responding, sharing, and adding to the conversation!

      Delete
    2. What about kids who want to spend all day in there so they do not have to do any work and only come out for recess or specials. Then throw a fit when encouraged to come out and work

      Delete
    3. There is a timer in the space to encourage children to return to class. But if a child is overusing the space, then I work with that child. He or she may have to come to me before going there, or I will go over and ask them to return to class. It really depends on why they are overusing.

      Delete
  29. Wonderful post. I don't know why it is but I've never been in a classroom with a clip chart. I've seen so many examples on Pinterest and find them very sad. I picture the little child (my son would definitely be one) that is so stressed because he can't be in the right zone.
    I've used RC for years and find it to be exactly what is needed.
    I love your take a break area and will steal the mirror idea. Thank you so much!
    Michelle

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    1. I hope it works for your class! Thanks so much for taking the time to respond and share:)

      Delete
  30. WOW! Thank you for a wonderful post and lots to think about! I never liked the "pulling the card" chart, so later I moved to rewarding with tickets and we had a weekly raffle. That was fun for a while. I currently do have a clip chart in my classroom but rarely use it. My feeling (and I tell my 3rd graders this) is I'm going to reward the positive and deal with the negative as it comes up.I think each situation has to be dealt with individually. It's not so cut and dry! I LOVE the RC approach and I need to look further into it. We do not have any school wide plan so I'm able to implement what works for me. THANKS for sharing such wonderful "food for thought!"
    Gina
    Beach Sand and Lesson Plans

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    1. Thank you for responding and sharing. I think you will like what you see with Responsive Classroom. Also, look into Conscious Discipline - another child-centered approach. And I am loving some of the Whole Brain Teaching techniques that I've tried this year! Where has that been all my life?!

      Delete
  31. As a Montessori teacher in a public school it makes me happy to read this. You are putting the child first and creating a peaceful environment for all learners.

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  32. As a Montessori teacher in a public school it makes me happy to read this. You are putting the child first and creating a peaceful environment for all learners.

    ReplyDelete
  33. My son had the same experience as yours in k. He struggled through 1st with the same issues. Finally in 2nd, I had him tested and we implemented an IEP. He is still struggling in 3rd grade trying to make up all the work and learning he missed by being sent out of the room for acting out. He was acting out for almost 3 years Bc of a learning disability no one would recognize. The teachers were all too busy changing his level on the color chart. To this day he still believes he's "not a good kid." Please rethink these behavior charts. Connection with students and knowledge is key. And yes I am also a teacher but hs level.

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    1. Thank you for sharing. I am so sorry your son has had such a difficult experience. I hope the new awareness of his learning disability and the IEP help turn things around for him!

      Delete
  34. I use a color chart for the beginning of first grade, but am usually done with it by December. Since I have the same kids for 2 years, we don't need to keep reviewing expectations. My chart is a bit different, though, in that it has a blue top for those students who do great things during the day and our students can move back up the spectrum throughout the day.

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    1. Thanks so much for responding and adding to the conversation!

      Delete
  35. GREAT post, Nikki!! Look at all these comments!!!! Yay!!! I just stumbled onto your blog through the linky post on Grade ONEderful. Glad I found you! :)

    I'm sure I'm going to rock some MAJOR boats here... and I wouldn't say I necessarily DISagree with your message, I just think there is a whole lot more to this story.

    I'd question if the issue is really the clip-chart itself - or what is going on beyond the chart.

    I literally just typed an obnoxiously huge comment, but I'm going to post it to my blog instead and save you. ;)

    I do want to say what happened to your child makes my heart hurt. That should never happen to anyone's baby regardless of the management system. :(


    Kate
    Second Grade Sparkle

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    1. Thank you for joining the conversation! I look forward to reading your comment, um-blog post:)

      And don't worry about rocking the boat - that's what makes it all the more interesting;)

      Delete
    2. I think you are right on target! I have taught 24 years and tried numerous strategies for behavior and aelf regulation. Right now a clip chart works best for me. I always try to stay positive and let the child make the choices.

      Delete
  36. Thank you so much for saying what I have been believing since I became a teacher. One other thing I have against the charts, aside from all the wonderful point that you made, is it rewards shy students. Students who are "shy" are typically always on green, when in reality we want them to step outside of that box and feel comfortable enough to socialize with their peers.

    I am now a new follower! So happy I found this linky party and can't wait until I can go home and link up!

    Thank you, thank you!
    Cora B.

    firstgradeexploration.blogspot.com

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    1. Thanks for responding!
      My oldest son is one of those students who stayed on green all the time and felt very pressured not to say anything or upset the teacher for fear of being moved on the chart. You have a good point-it can make some kids reluctant to speak up.

      Delete
  37. I don't understand how a behavior chart reward shy students. I guess it depends if you're rewarding "quiet" behaviors or "active" learners. I think there are so many positive ways to use a behavior system, such as a clip chart. I will continue to support any teacher who uses it as a classroom management tool in a positive way. Children must learn their choices have consequences. It all depends on the teacher's attitude and relationship with each student. I read Teach Like a Champion this summer and one of the main tennants is that the students must know that you have a plan for when they are refusing to work or being disrespecful or other non productive behaviors. Teach how and what you expect from your students...be clear...and practice. I have seen kids abuse a "quiet place" in the classroom to get negative reinforcement. Kids are very smart. Develop a relationship with each kid. Then use whatever program works for you.

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  38. Finally someone said it! I see those charts on Pinterest and yes, my first instinct is "something cute to make for my room!" but you are right- they only make children feel embarrassed and shamed and the tattlers have a hey day. I haven't used a chart in over 5 years. I find a simple warning works and then a timeout or back to your desk works better. I have taught in the most inner city schools in my district and still haven't needed it. Focus your time on the teaching, not moving pins up and down all day.

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    1. I teach in a difficult environment as well. Many of my students live with the harsh reality of poverty, violence, and exposure to questionable behaviors. I find that I have a much calmer and more productive classroom since I stopped using behavior charts.

      Delete
  39. Thank you for this post! I am an educator and parent who has come to loathe behavior / reward charts. You hit the nail on the head with your points mentioned above. I have seen these charts be used to justify why a child should be medicated for ADHD (18 red days in a month) to justification on why a teacher is a "good one." Yet, reflecting on the last 10 years, I have only seen these charts used in KG-3rd grade classes that were more than 20 students. I can't help but wonder if this is just a tool to substitute for the teacher developing a relationship with each child. (I stand up here and teach I can get through all of this material if the group is quiet). Education is becoming a performance based system where filling in the right circles on a test mean a whole lot, behavior charts are just another tool towards developing this mentality in every aspect of the class room.

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    1. Yes, I think these charts are often used when teachers do not have the support, the skills, or the knowledge to make something different work. That's why I used them. I didn't know how to do it better.
      Well, now I know better and I will never go back:)

      Delete
  40. I don't use behavior cards or charts either. I have seen them break a child down far too many times. I really haven't found a great replacement but I sure like your idea.

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    1. This take a break space is really only one small component of a larger plan, but i can be very powerful!

      Delete
  41. I have seen the charts kill the spirits of my students and keep them so stressed out, that it is hard for them to feel comfortable at school and be themselves. Love it, and will be doing this in my first grade classroom.

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    1. I hope it works for you! My oldest son is one of those kids who follows rules, never gets in trouble, does all his work, gets wonderful grades, etc...

      But these charts stressed him out so much! He was so upset to see some kids constantly reprimanded and moved on the chart. And he was always worried that he would make a mistake and get his color changed.

      It is difficult for kids to learn and grow when they are living in a state of fear and worry.

      Delete
  42. Wow Nikki I read your post and it brought back so many memories. My middle son (who we found out in 2nd grade is also ADHD) spent the first two years of school coming home daily crushed and feeling badly about himself (same comments as your son). His teachers never talked to me about any issues but he was moving down the color chart almost every day. He is an extremely sensitive and caring child. His 2nd grade teacher was my saving grace. She had a son who was ADHD and she did not punish him for things he could not control. She worked with me to find ways to help him. I will love her forever for helping him feel better about himself. Almost two years later he is doing wonderful!

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    1. Yep, that sounds like our experience. My middle boy has a heart as big as Texas, so sweet and sensitive, but the impulse control of a border collie in a room full of squirrels. His third grade teacher did a lot of damage control for his wounded sense of self worth.
      Thank goodness for those special teachers who can see into our children's hearts and lift them up!

      So glad your son is doing well!!

      Delete
  43. Your blog entry was forwarded to me. I haven't read the comments so this may have been mentioned but if not, I'd recommend checking out Collaborative Problem Solving. The philosophy and approach fits perfectly with your mindset and it is a proven approach. Two websites to check out: www.livesinthebalance.org and www.thinkkids.org

    Good luck!
    -Ben

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  44. Hello! I love this post and chain of comments- it has really given me a lot to think about! My school uses a clip chart and all of the first grade teachers have the same color system. It is good for us to have that continuity across the grade, but I also see the more negative affects. I have had students that do not handle it well when they are moved down to orange or red. I've had to take certain students off of the clip chart and create their own behavior contract for that very reason. I also have students that are almost always on green (where everyone starts) and so I wonder if it loses its effectiveness when they are always on green. I have purple at the top and students can earn their way up to purple for "wow" behaviors. In reading all of the comments and thinking about a few students in my class this year, I can see the negative affects of "changing your clip." We do let the kids earn their way back up if they've had to move to yellow or orange, and for some kids this really does motivate them. I also use a "punch card" system where I give hole punches in their cards when I see awesome, respectful, friendly, etc behaviors. They love this and I find it really motivates them, too.

    I would be open to doing away with the clip chart, except for the fact that this has become a major way of communicating with parents. How do you (and anyone else reading this) communicate with parents when the student has had a rough day or even a great day? I draw a face with the color in their calendar each day and the most of the parents do look at the color at night. I like being able to write notes about good behavior or listing a few problem areas, especially for those parents that will actually talk with their child about it. (Unfortunately, the average family at our school is not overly involved.)

    Anyway, like I said, this post has given me a lot to think about and I'd love any ideas for parent communication that don't involve a color. The parents have gotten pretty used to the daily color coming home in the folder.

    Thanks!
    Katie
    katiereeder@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  45. Thanks so much for this wonderful post. I have shared very similar viewpoints on my own blog and with my preservice teachers - but you have expressed it so much better. Your poignant stories about children's experiences really brings to life the issues with behavior charts. I also promote the Responsive Classroom ideas and I love their Break Time. I'm so glad you've started this dialogue. I am going to have all my student teachers read this blog post as a required assignment in my classroom management course!!
    I'm glad to have found your blog - thanks Pinterest!

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    1. Wow! I'm honored!
      I do feel very strongly that we do not have to frighten children into 'good behavior'. Creating a classroom community and personal relationships with students is truly the key. Children absolutely must feel a valued part of the group. Then they WANT to do things that help the group as a whole and make the day run smoothly. Oh my, it is so much easier said than done!
      It requires determination, loads of patience, and a bit of seasoned skill.
      I wish someone had shared this with me earlier in my career!

      Delete
  46. I completely agree with you! I'm almost 28 years old and when I was in 2nd Grade I got moved to yellow on the behavior chart for forgetting to put my lunch card in the proper place. I was so embarrassed and ashamed that I cried in front of the whole class and again when I got home and told my mom. It was a horrible experience that has clearly stuck with me.

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    1. Awww - so sad! And for something so trivial! Those are not the kinds of memories children should take away from school:(

      My son has a fifth grade teacher like that this year - only she give laps around the playground at recess - for things like going to the restroom during class or retrieving a notebook from a backpack. She is in no way building relationships with her students nor teaching them responsibility.
      On the up side, my son is learning how to effectively deal with difficult people:)

      Delete
  47. Can you send what you use for your cue cards for self-calming? I am not a fan of behavior charts either, but I am always looking for ways to improve my classroom management, as I have several boys in my class this year with aggression and impulsivity issues. I love your idea for a take a break spot!!

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    1. I got those cards from our guidance counselor. I will talk with her tomorrow about sharing them. Send me your e-mail and I'll let you know:)

      teachinginprogress@gmail.com

      Delete
  48. Wow, I was just about to print and laminate my behaviour chart for the year. I think every class in our school has one and it is part of the whole school plan.

    Now I don't want one, but a few days before the start of the school year doesn't seem enough time to change as I haven't found anything concrete to replace it with.

    My biggest reason for using one, is my awful memory. If I don't track, I find that some kids get away with heaps while others get a consequence more quickly, which isn't fair.

    Would it better to keep the chart private? Just for myself so I can see who really needs an individual plan or who might need a talk at the end of the dfay?

    I have been provoked! I will be doing some research ;)

    Also, I liked these...
    http://pinterest.com/pin/14214555045557811/

    Saves negative talk but not sure if it would really be practical.

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    1. I wouldn't recommend using a chart just to remember which kid did what. Different kids need different kinds (and amounts) of reminders and consequences. I am a firm believer in 'fair is not equal.'

      I'm glad my principal doesn't keep a chart of every dumb thing I've ever done! Hopefully he forgets a few of them:)

      Sometimes I do keep a private chart to document behavior and keep anecdotal notes. It can often help me see patterns of behavior or a causal relationship.

      I saw those cards on Pinterest, too, and I thought about using them, but usually a hand on the shoulder or proximity serves the same purpose. I suppose it depends on the kid.

      I'm glad you're thinking about it, though! I feel like I am constantly discovering how these little people work and every year I am a little better at building community with them.

      Good luck this year!

      Delete
  49. I love your post! My son uses it at his school and it totally crushes him when he is moved down. He has a speech delay plus has a difficult time sitting and following directions. His whole day is ruined when he has to move his clip down. I believe there should be consequences for bad behavior but it shouldn't be done in the front of the class. I think they should not be used in the classroom and I have become a thorn in his teachers side with my vocal disagreement. More positive reinforcement usually helps with behavior because a child will get the attention that they need by either positive or negative reinforcement.

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    1. Good for you for speaking up against the behavior charts! Hopefully, his teacher will be brave and try something different:)

      Delete
  50. After working with special needs students for 10 years I finally moved to a "regular" ed 2nd grade classroom. i have never used clips or cards or pins. I don't give my kids numbers either. We just work on learning to be great people. We treat each other with respect and when we for get we apologize and try again the next time. I have several positive reward systems. A punch card for when I feel they have gone above and beyond. And a paper airplane that they write how they were kind or good to a friend then fold and it fly around the edges of our room. I was so pleased to see your post. All people tall and small need kindness the most.

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    1. You are spot on.
      Even though I am in a 'regular' ed class, I am the first grade collab class and have all the first graders with special needs/IEP's in my class. It brings new perspective to life:)
      Respect and relationships are the key:)

      Delete
  51. I just found this through a link on Pinterest and wanted to say how much I love what you've written. Yeah! I LOVE the idea of a "Take Break" place - which would work so well for my own daughter, who is currently in kindergarten. Thank you for this!

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    1. I hope some teachers can use it!
      But, it really is just a small piece of my classroom management puzzle.
      This year has been one of those special years for me - small class size, great group of kids - it was easy to build such beautiful report with the class. I don't think we've used take a break station but a couple of times:)

      Delete
  52. I really love this idea. I have 2 questions. We usually used the clip chart so the parents knew what kind of day a student was having. Looking at the calendar, they would know just by looking at what color. How do you go about doing that in a simple way? Also, I used my chart to coincide with a treasure box green=individual reward. Do you just go by good behavior is good behavior and doesn't "need" to be rewarded, or do you reward them in a different way? Just thinking about the way I do things and how I would go about redoing them. Thanks.

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    1. Thanks, Barabra.
      The last question first:) I do not use tangible rewards with my students. I have found that when students are given rewards, they will rarely make an effort to behave when rewards are not available. They will behave in front of the teacher, but the minute they are away from her, they fall apart.

      Instead, I have worked hard to build a sense of community and family with my students - we love and respect each other so much that we try to do the right thing for the sake of the group. I have seen even my most difficult little friend rise to the challenge (and I work with some REALLY difficult little friends:)
      I set/model/practice super clear expectations that are spelled out step by step in the beginning of the year and we practice regularly.
      That's not to say that there are no discipline problems in the class, but they are so much easier to handle.

      I know it might seem dorky, but the kids and I have come to know and love each other. We meet every morning to greet each other and find out the latest news from our lives. Everyone feels they are part of the team and feel obligated to be a positive part of the classroom community.

      I do not keep track of daily behavior to share with parents. Our class becomes a little family each day and we solve our problems together as we go. Parents don't need to know every little glitch of every day.

      If we have issues that are extreme or that break school policy, I will involve parents as needed. Most of the parents in my class are relieved at this and are grateful that their child is learning how to solve problems without daily updates.

      I hope this helps! I really recommend looking into Responsive Classroom or one of the other community building options out there to get more specifics:)

      Good luck!

      Delete
  53. Thanks for the response. I appreciate it. Gives me a whole lot to think about for next year. Just hope I'm in a building where they accept it. I only know of one who uses the Responsive classroom.

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    1. Yes, it is easier when you have admin and colleagues who are supportive of a new endeavor. But, when they start to see your success, they'll ask how they can do it, too!!
      It has taken me a few years to get to a place where I feel really comfortable with classroom management, but it was so worth the work:)
      Good luck next year!

      Delete
  54. Hi Nikki, I just wanted to say as a grandma of a soon to be 6 year old girl, I absolutely love your theory, I wish more people and schools thought along the same lines as you. Thank you for making a difference.

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  55. I found your blog when searching for color card system and effect on children because my child's school uses it. I didn't know it at first and I hate it. It is an abyssmal failure. It is a shame based system. If you have a perceived infraction which can vary from teacher to teacher, the child has to flip their card and miss 5 minutes of recess. If they have to flip to orange, it's the whole recess, I think, if red, you go to the office. It has been an utter failure at this school for a myriad of reasons, over use, under use, subjectivity is varied, etc. The kids do not know which end is up and they are shamed/humiliated, frustrated, anxious. It is awful. I gave our Admin Marvin Marshall's book: Discipline without Stress, Punishment or Rewards (Raise Responsibility System) I use it with my child. She's 9...she gets it. It is used in many schools across the US. He has a great site. It is not punitive, but also NOT permissive. Consequences are elicited, not imposed. Imposed, generic consequences to not work to encourage self-discipline. Sheer compliance does not create desire. When kids are shown this program, they want to strive for positive level, not just try and stay out of the firing line. They do what's right because it's the right thing to do and not because they have had something done TO them to get them to behave. When mistakes are made, they are dealt with privately, with grace. The child is asked what are they going to do this predicament you've found yourself in. If you have a problem with a child and don't include them in the resolution, you will continue to have a problem. I cannot tell you the self-esteem dives and humiliation a system like the color card does to a child's psyche. There are actual research papers on it. It is really bad in the long run.

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    1. Amen! It seems so many miss the point that it's not about 'us' controlling 'them.' Our task is to guide a child to find intrinsic motivation to do the right thing and to carry out that task while maintaining the child's dignity. Children are perceptive little creatures - they know which teachers truly respect them. They value that respect, even if they are yet unable to return it.
      Thanks for your great contribution to the conversation!!

      Delete
  56. I am glad I ran across this post as I was recently debating on using any behavior chart at all. I have 2 main reasons for doing this 1 which you mentioned. 1) It doesn't help children change and reflect on their behavior 2) A statement I read from the leader of the finland schools,"when you add accountability you take out responsibility." How many times do we say, the chart holds them accountable for their actions.
    I am attempting not to use it at all next year and will be implementing different reflective responses and social skill activities (1st Grade).

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    1. That is such a good point! Accountability vs. responsibility. It is our job to help students feel it is their responsibility to be a good citizen of the classroom, that their classmates and teacher are depending on them and are supportive of their efforts.
      Thanks for sharing and good luck next year!

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  57. Was this an original idea or something suggested through RC?

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    1. Responsive Classroom calls it a "Positive Time Out." Teachers who use this concept call it many things. I chose to call it Take A Break because it has a positive ring to it. Since I have not been completely trained in RC, the Take A Break station I use is a gathering of ideas and concepts based on many readings, trainings, collaboration with other teachers, and experience as a teacher and parent over the last 20 years.

      Delete
  58. I am so glad I'm not the only teacher that doesn't like behavior charts. I feel like people think I'm being irresponsible when I don't write in a child's folder for the small mistakes students make. It's going to happen. We all make mistakes! I believe in natural and logical consequences. I've noticed that treating students fairly keeps our relationship strong and respectful. It makes my job easier too because students don't feel the need to argue! For example, if a child isn't being an active learner repeatedly during their independent work, then they don't get to participate in our fun educational game. If a child breaks someone's pencil, then they must give them one of theirs. It just makes sense. No need to tattle to a parent about a broken pencil when the problem can be fixed at school. Only major incidents require reporting in my opinion.

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    1. I couldn't agree more! And honestly, who has time for all that reporting anyway:)

      Delete
  59. I completely agree with a philosophy behind "Take a Break" versus charts. However as a sub, I feel like most of the time at my school I'm seeing it being used as a time out. Teachers and paras sending kids there who aren't following expectations. I haven't seen any sort of station like you have set up with tools to help the child. I would love to see it used like you describe.

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    1. Interesting to hear your experience as a sub! Sometimes teachers get caught in the 'can't see the forest for the tress' syndrome and lose track of the goal. It takes someone from outside, looking in, to see what is really going on.

      Delete
  60. I tried color cards for one year. I didn't do it again. Somewhat recently I read this blog post http://missnightmutters.com/2012/08/too-high-a-price.html and I understood better why I didn't like it when I tried it. Sometimes a different person can articulate what you feel better than you can. ;) She also wrote about discipline being based on relationships, not systems. http://missnightmutters.com/2012/09/behaviour-management-not-systems-but-relationships.html I'm glad my school doesn't insist on any such charts. I don't necessarily agree with everything we do do, but at least we don't have to use a chart! Thank you for writing your article and helping to open eyes.

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    1. Thanks so much for sharing the links. She made a great analogy to our adult lives to really drive the point home!

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  61. I love this! I have used behavior charts for years and have never had a problem. I actually had a rather low stress environment, but that is because I use developmentally appropriate practices. If a person finds that consequences cause stress and that lots of children are having to change their colors, there may be a teaching issue. If a child is continuously having to change his color, there may be some extra support that the child should be offered. When using behavior charts, children should only have to change their color for breaking actual posted classroom rules and when they change the color they should know why. The teacher should also talk to them about a more appropriate course of action. Used this way, they have always been effective in enforcing boundaries in my classroom and communicating with parents (for whom I write a note about any child on yellow or red). Even beyond that, it should be more forgiving system. I gave my students three chances before they changed their colors. I just thought I would share. The behavior charts can be used without creating stress and making the children feel bad.

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    1. I hear you. But, I think what concerns me is that teachers are often unaware of what is actually going on inside of a child in a classroom with color charts. I never would have understood this if I didn't see my own children go through it.

      When I went to my children's teachers with my concerns about my boys' worries, they had no idea that the charts had that effect on them.

      The kids tell their parents those innermost feelings that they do not tell their teachers. Also, parents have a better feel for their child's emotional state and can often tell when something is out of sync even when the teacher does not realize it.

      Just because it seems like it doesn't make kids feel bad doesn't mean that actually is the case.

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  62. Since I teach middle school, I do not use a "chart". However, I HATE that chart because my own son was "Mr. Blue Bee" in PreK!! Couldn't stay on green for a full week to save the world! I'm hoping the summer allows him to settle a bit before kindergarten starts in August.

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    1. Oh no - they used a color chart in preschool! So sad!
      I hope Kindergarten is awesome for him:)

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  63. Thank you so much for this post! I have never agreed with the clip chart system. I still remember when I was in 2nd grade and I had to move mine down to yellow....I was devastated! I went home that day and cried. I feel, like you, that there are better ways to manage behavior in the classroom. I try REALLY hard to focus on the positive things, but I LOVE the "take a break" SAFE place to go for comfort and to calm down. Definitely going to do this next year. Thank you again!

    Melissa
    Jungle Learners

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  64. My school uses Responsive Classroom and we have Take a Break building wide. May I share this post at a PD this year? Thanks for some great points!
    Cynthia Madanski

    www.fullSTEAMahead.edublogs.org

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    1. Of course you can! I sent you an e-mail:)

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  65. Hi Nikki,

    I am not sure if you ever got my email about where you teach in Virginia. I have been following you since I began my student teaching in Michigan and have returned to Virginia to my first teaching position.

    I have never believed in the behavior charts because it seemed to only look at what the child did wrong and they always compared themselves to other students who "could" stay on green. I observed this with my own children when they were in kindergarten and vowed not to use it in my class or at any other time.

    The "take a break" spot is great. I use the teachers table as a the break for the kids.

    Thank you for sharing your story and highlighting some cons of the behavior chart.

    Anna

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  66. I love this idea! I have used clip charts in the past. My school required some sort of conduct tracking throughout the day. It never felt right to me. It would stress out some of my students and have little effect on other student's behavior. I also had to constantly reassure parents about their child's move on the clip chart. I love the idea of giving children time to calm down, think about their choices and then join the class again. That's the goal, for the children to behave appropriately and to be able to join the class again. Sometimes it's difficult for a child to express themselves in an appropriate way. The "take a break spot" would definitely help children with this. It would also give me an opportunity to discuss what happened with the child at a later time when they are calm and open to a discussion. I also like the "take a break" spot for children who need a moment to compose themselves when transitioning from home to school. Thanks so much! ~KC

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  67. Can you give me an example of how you deal with the kids who are constantly talking when you are teaching? I use Responsive Classroom in the room, but the "take a break chair" and positive praise does not work for those students who are very impulsive or constant talkers. I have been researching this all summer but I need some specific examples to grasp it. I would appreciate your help! Thanks!

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    1. Hi Jen,

      One of the things I do is only choose student volunteers for special jobs who are following all the expectations. That way, it doesn't single out the students who are misbehaving, but may encourage them to put in more effort into doing what they're supposed to. For example, if I need a student to help me put some artwork on the wall, I'll look around and say, "Sarah, thank you for working so quietly in your desk! Could you come up and help me with this important job really quickly?" That way it ties their behavior (working quietly) to a fun job (and break from the work!)

      If a usually constant talker seems to be behaving marginally better than usual (but still maybe worse than other students), I'll go over and let them know that I can see they're trying really hard to follow the expectations and really appreciate it. And if you can catch them on a really good day, DO IT! Snag them for a special job as quickly as you can and make a HUGE deal out of it!

      If you get to a point that they're really just not behaving and it's getting to be bad news for you AND them, that's a great time for a break area. You could also team up with another teacher and do the magic envelope technique where they take sealed envelope with a note like, "This student needs a break" and let that student take it to the other teacher (but don't make it sound like a special, important, or "because you were doing such a great job" job). The super celebration reward jobs are for great behavior! Just a "Johnny, I need you to go hang out with Mrs. Smith for a few minutes." Then, after 5 or 10 minutes, the other teacher will send the student back. Just be careful not to use this with students who are trying to avoid work, because then they'll just learn that if they drive you crazy, they;ll get to leave!

      Ultimately, it's about praising or recognizing the positive behavior significantly more than the negative. It's also about recognizing that some students are never going to walk in a straight line, work all day without interrupting, or follow all the directions. That's where we have to figure out the best way to reward and praise the good behavior the few times we get it to try to make it happen more often and not dwell on the same things other teachers have dwelled on for years with no change! It's super hard and requires lots of patience, but our kids are worth it :) Good luck!

      Colleen

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    2. Yes! What Colleen said!
      I also use a "thinking Chair." It is for kids who are not having heavy emotions, but they are disrupting class repeatedly. Usually when a kid is disrupting with talking, playing, or being off task, I just give quick verbal prompts like, "Joe, I need you quiet so everyone can hear." And then I just keep teaching without missing a beat. If I have had to that 3 or 4 times, I will say, "Joe, I have had to ask you to stop talking several times during this lesson. Please visit the thinking chair so you can make some decisions about how you are going to try to work quietly." I have a few visuals and notes in that area to give kids strategies for working and focusing.
      Good luck:)

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  68. Thank you for this lovely post... as a teacher of 30 years, I will no longer use behavior charts (though I don't have to very often in Prek) I loved your story!
    Susan

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  69. Thank you so much for writing this! I wrote a blog post about the same thing here:

    http://onestopcounselingshop.com/2013/06/23/pinterest-find-colorful-behavior-management-charts/

    and wish more people would get rid of these horrible things!!

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    1. Love it! I agree that many teachers use it because it's easy:(

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  70. What a great discussion! Rarely do I read ALL the comments, but today I did. I use a variation of the clip chart, but have also had concerns about it. I am ready to change! How though? I agree with Jen from the previous post. Can you please give specific examples? I am a big believer in preventing problems through community/relationships, but that doesn't work 100% of the time. I wish I had more time to conference with each kid that makes a poor choice, but I have to be realistic. I will have 28 3rd graders in my room this year, and I don't feel I will have enough time to deal with the little problems that I usually just say "move your clip to". Ideas?

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    1. I also use a "thinking Chair." It is for kids who are not having heavy emotions, but they are disrupting class repeatedly. Usually when a kid is disrupting with talking, playing, or being off task, I just give quick verbal prompts like, "Joe, I need you quiet so everyone can hear." And then I just keep teaching without missing a beat. If I have had to that 3 or 4 times, I will say, "Joe, I have had to ask you to stop talking several times during this lesson. Please visit the thinking chair so you can make some decisions about how you are going to try to work quietly." I have a few visuals and notes in that area to give kids strategies for working and focusing. I hope this helps, but honestly with 28 kids in the room - wow- I can't imagine!!! Good luck:)

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  71. I had been on the fence about using a colour chart this year, but this post help me decide not to! I've always been vigilant about making sure not to embarrass a child by correcting their behaviour, etc. in front of the class, so why would I use a chart when you are making their behaviour public knowledge, not just to the other kids in the class, but to anyone who enters into the room?! I'm going to implement some of your suggestions, I love the take a break space, and I've also found some cards I'm thinking of using (http://rockandteach.blogspot.ca/2012/08/monday-made-it-part-4.html). I think these can be used discreetly, and also give kids hints as to when they need to visit the take a break space!

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    1. Good luck with the take a break space! I hope you have a great year!

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  72. Wow! Thanks for the great tips from everyone!! I teach preschool and have a cozy area check it out here:
    (http://preschoolboogie.blogspot.com/search?q=cozy+corner)

    I am going to add kid-friendly yoga poses and the timer. I had kids who would not leave the cozy corner.

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    1. Cute cozy corner! I like those water timers, too - very calming!

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  73. I know this is an old post, but it's awesome! I am debating dumping the color system as well. I am trying out WBT for the first time (I also teach 1st grade), and our district also adopted a program similar to Responsive Classroom called Restorative Practices. The color chart just doesn't seem to mesh. Thanks for the info!
    -Jen
    That First Grade Blog

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    1. I haven't heard of Restorative Practices. I'll have to google that one! I hope you have a great year:)

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  74. I am glad to see that I am not alone in not using behavior charts and individual reward systems for good behavior. I have never used a behavior chart and have worked with inner city children for many years. I have always had a "quiet area" where children can take a break or go to work quietly. This is usually by choice but at times I "suggest" it. I love the items you have put in this space and I will definitely add that to mine. I agree that children need teacher modeling to learn how to be with a large group of their peers. I do have my moments when my voice get raised but I try to keep that in check as much as possible because nothing good ever comes from my raised voice and I feel awful afterwards. Thanks for the great post and explanation of your reasoning.
    ~Susan

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  75. I just wrote a really similar post on responsive classroom. I love your take a break charts! I will definitely be using them in my take a break area. I also love the personal stories. That's why I don't use charts, I always knew kids (especially those with ADHD) felt that way, but I loved hearing the parent's perspective.

    Check out my post!
    Meredith
    The Big Apple Teacher

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  76. Thank you for this post. My daughter came home today from her fourth day at Kindergarten devastated because it marked the first day she didn't move her clip to Great Job...but her table partner did. As a former teacher, I understand the pros and cons of having charts like these in place, but as a parent of a beautiful, smart, but otherwise perfectionist 5year old girl, I loathe them. Knowing my daughter's temperament, she will continue to be hard on herself until she can (in her eyes) "earn back the favor of her teacher."

    My question to you, and any of the rest of you reading this, is what advice can you give to help my daughter through her primary school years. I'm assuming her kindergarten teacher won't be the only one using charts like these. I don't want her to hate school because of her feeling inadequate even if its unjustified.

    I appreciate your thoughts.

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    1. I am so sorry that happened to your daughter! That just breaks my heart and this is why these charts are so dreadful. They cause so much worry in an otherwise happy and cooperative kid. How can she concentrate when she is worried all day about her place on the chart?
      I always told my boys that many teachers have their heart in the right place and they think they are doing the right thing. I reminded them everyday that the chart was arbitrary and did not define their worth.
      You can also talk to the teacher about the stress this is causing your daughter. She likely doesn't even realize the negative impact of the chart.
      Good luck and I wish your daughter a lovely kindergarten year:)

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  77. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you. Tonight, after a hard Monday with my new first graders I was almost to the point of making a "color chart." I have never liked behavior charts and do not use them in my class but many of my colleagues do and I was feeling like maybe I should give in to my opposition. I do RC in my classroom so was looking to see if there are any charts that support RC and came across your post. It just reinforced why I don't use them and gave me the courage to stick with RC because I know it works in the end. So again thank you!

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    1. You're right - it does work in the end! But those first few weeks are rough:)

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  78. Thank you for this article. My 2nd grader came home from the first day of 2nd grade and was so excited and exclaiming this was going to be the best year ever. His enthusiasm soon turned into tears when he had 2 days where he was moved to "yellow" on his behavior chart for not following directions. He started telling me he had butterflies in his belly before school because he didn't think he could live up to the expectations of his teacher. He is doing great academically and is a great kid. I have tears in my eyes just thinking about his worries and I am trying to communicate to the teacher that I respect her, but don't believe that this method is going to help him mature and focus/listen overnight. What else can I do?

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    1. How sad! What worries me about situations like this is that kids have a hard time learning when they are under stress. So many teachers use this method and they have no idea it is causing kids to worry all day long. When I have mentioned this to teachers they usually respond, "Oh, that's not true! I am very careful how I use my chart! It's all about whether it's used positively." I'm sorry, but that is hogwash. Anytime you chart a kids' wrongdoings, whether praise is involved or not, it will cause the child stress and worry. Most of the time teachers don't even know the deep impact it has on kids.
      You have to call/email/meet with that teacher until she understands that your child is stressed and worried to the point of not wanting to go to school. You might even request that your child be exempt from the chart because of its impact on him. Make sure you describe in great detail the emotional fallout this method has on your child.
      If you know other parents in the class, talk with them. I bet their kids are suffering as well. You can all share your concerns with the teacher individually and she may pay attention when she has 10 families complaining about worried kids. You can also band together and contact the teacher or admin as a concerned group of parents. Sometimes it takes sheer numbers to get results.
      Good luck!! Let me know how things go!

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    2. I have been reading your post and all of the comments and I am in agreement with most of what has been said. In fact, it has changed my perspective and opened my eyes. However, I have to disagree with your suggestion to band together with other parents and contact administration. Isn't that similar to the shaming the behavior chart does to children? I understand this would likely be a course of action taken if all others have not been successful, but it seems counterproductive considering the philosophy you have for your classroom. We all make mistakes and it may just be that the teacher needs a relationship and connection built with the concerned parent. As I said, I am in firm agreement with most of what has been said here I just felt it was important to point out that we as adults need to be just as cautious when dealing with each other as we are when we deal with our children.

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    3. I completely understand your point. Unfortunately, I have met with several teachers repeatedly about how these kinds of classroom management systems affect my children, and I know other parents who have done the same, to no avail. I have also spoken with administrators about the problems with behavior charts and seen no results. It seems the only time admins pay attention is when multiple parents come forward, either many individual parents, or as a group. I don't see any problem with it if it is done respectfully and with solutions in mind before the meeting.

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  79. Totally love the post - and great ideas.

    The 'clip chart' behavior tracking system is absolutely horrible, and only looks good from a militant point of view. There is absolutely nothing beneficial to it from a child's point of view.

    1. It shames the kids that move down in front of the entire class and to themselves
    2. It allows teachers, parents and other children to only focus on the negative
    3. A child can do 100 good things that day, but if somehow the teacher only spots 2 bad things, the kid has a bad day
    4. The focus goes from learning and being encouraging/motivational, to a 'better not get your clip moved' focus
    5. Some kids with ADD or ADHD will always have their clips moved down - EVERY DAY
    6. Some kids are hypglycemic and need food/energy more often - it's not their fault
    7. If a chart must be made, it should start with good, and only go up using positive and encouraging words - never down or negative
    8. Reward the good in children
    9. Time outs are great - but some kids may act up just to get to have one possibly
    10. Each kid needs to be understood on what motivates them to be better

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  80. I just stumbled across yoru blog and this post was very informative! I am not a teacher but I am a mother who has a 3rd grade child and his teacher currently uses the colored behavior charts. I didn't think much of them except for they reminded me of how when I was in elementary school would write your name on the chalkboard and then add up to 3 check marks for inappropriate behavior.
    I really liked how you gave an amazing alternative option for the charts...Loved the 'Take a Break'!! I would like to add though, a behavior chart in any kindergarten class is unacceptable to me...kids are just starting to adjust to a school atmosphere.

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  81. THANK YOU! I am a substitute teacher. The other day I worked with pre-k children and noticed that they do not have behavior charts. Why do behavior charts begin in elementary? Do we expect children to be out-of-control once they are in elementary? Do we expect children in elementary to conform to a style of learning that doesn't fit their body or brain (thus needing a way to monitor their non-conformist behaviors)? You raise a wonderful question and from all the responses it feels as though many educators are inspired by the thoughts...I definitely am grateful to read the conversation!

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    1. Thanks so much for sharing in the conversation!

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  82. I love the idea of this program, but wonder about the communication piece- do you send notes home about behavior to parents? How do the parents know what kind of day their child had?

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    1. I do not keep track of daily behavior to share with parents. Our class becomes a little family each day and we solve our problems together as we go. Parents don't need to know every little glitch of every day.

      If we have issues that are extreme or that break school policy, I will involve parents as needed. Most of the parents in my class are relieved at this and are grateful that their child is learning how to solve problems without daily updates about every little thing.

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  83. Nikki, I had to send a reply! I love this idea! I was a teaching assistant in the public school here in the district I live in, while my older two attended school. I had planned to move on and teach my own class, but I am now a homeschooling mom. I find this idea so awesome and will share on facebook so I can pass it along to all(teachers and homeschool parents)! I've seen the behavior charts in some classrooms, but not in all. I think this is a much better way to help the child. I too have seen so many children who come from tough home lives. I'm going to put this into action in my home with my two younger children, but I am also going to make a set for our church. I also teach there (a co-op and on Sundays). I think this will help the children there too. :) Thanks again!

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    1. Thanks so much for commenting and sharing! I love the idea of implementing this at home and at church, too:)

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  84. Thanks so much for sharing this wonderful idea. I wished every school implemented this and could understand things from the child's point of view. I am not a teacher but a mother of two boys. The main reason I wanted to post here is to share the amount of agony we as parents have suffered when our Kindergartener started his elementary school this year. He is 5 years old and he started his Kindergarten in a public school which is considered as one of the best around here. Problems for my younger son started around second week after school started in August. Initially teacher communication was by email every single day which always used to be only negative. We also had few in person meetings with the teacher too. We used to speak to our son and we don't have any such issues at home. According to his class teacher his main issue is he shouts at her (he does have a loud voice and I am thinking that's what the issue was). Then she started giving him time out, taking his privileges away like not going for recess. In his third week when she gave a time out of 5 minutes and took his recess time off he had a temper tantrum and she sent him to the Assistant principal's office who called us to take him home. After that incident we were scared to see the sadness that our 5 year old suffered. We took him to his pediatrician who felt he was quite smart for his age and was already reading. Surprising part is his class teacher kept saying he is lagging behind other kids as he is just a "young 5 year old (born in May 2008)". His doctor didn't find any issue with him and did feel after reading through the chain of email communication from the teacher that changing his teacher may help as there seems to be a lack of bond between the teacher and the child. School was more interested in having a psychologist watch him rather than change his teacher. The following week his class teacher wanted to implement the color technique. She had a monkey with 5 color coconut. Needless to say my son inaugurated the color technique with a red on Monday. I have never seen a child so upset. He came home and threw away all his red colors and kept writing green everywhere. We were little scared seeing his sadness and extreme determination that he will only get a green. Anyway just as he wished he did get green on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. We didn't receive any emails from his class teacher and we thought everything was fine. I just sent out a friendly email on Friday and received a reply back that it seems she sent emails and we missed it (never received them) and again a huge list of complaints like he didn't stand in line, he didn't raise his hands to ask a question and he keeps shouting at me. Anyway that day afternoon I received a call from teacher saying that our son had a temper tantrum and I had to take him back home as per the "rules". It seems she changed the card to yellow as my son put a piece of mulch in his mouth and he had a temper tantrum. We got him home and he was shaking, shivering and crying uncontrollably. It was not a temper tantrum, it was an emotional melt down of a heart broken child. He started getting night mares and would scream in his sleep that he hates yellow, red and only likes green. That Friday was his last day at that public school. We did send out an email to principal and assistant principal before taking him out. All the above incidents just happened to my son during the first month of kindergarten. We enrolled him in a private school. He is doing ok. His new teacher seems understanding though she also implements color codes, green, blue, yellow and red. He did get few blues but seemed ok, just a little sad. We are keeping our fingers crossed that we never have to go through this bad experience ever again. We spoke to many of our son's previous teachers and other instructors as we were very concerned about his sadness and behavior and no one had any issues with him. They just said he behaved just like any other 5 year old. Thanks again.

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    1. This just breaks my heart! Thank you for sharing your story and I am so glad you had the option of placing him in a more positive setting:) I hope your family can find peace and that your son continues to thrive.

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  85. I am not a teacher, only a mum. I have a 4 and a half years old daughter and a 2 and a half son. She was always a good child, well behaved, started a 3 hour/day kindergarten program at 2.5 and did well. We live in Eastern Europe and the system is different, of course. The boy was a very crying and difficult baby that consumed a lot of my time and resources and then she suffered a little and her behaviour was affected; but I always tried to make time for her and assure her of my love and she is ok, though at this age she is not always willing to obey a request like "put your toys away".. I can't get to motivate her to do it.. she says that she's so tired...
    The boy has a strong will, gets angry when he doesn't get what he wants or something is taken away from him, at age 2 use to push or hurt other children especially smaller than
    him; he still hits me or others if he doesn't get his way. I was a full stay-at-home mom until recently and he also goes to kindergarten now. He behaves resonably there, the teacher doesn't complain, she says he is fine for a boy his age, I often ask about him. We as parents and I especially have dedicated all the possible time to them and especially him and he has
    progressed a lot and I see the progress slowly.
    The chart system is not used here. I don't know what system they use at the kindergarten but they manage to keep things straight and the children are not stressed and they are happy to go.
    I have used at home only once 2 charts for them from http://www.kidpointz.com/ to see if it helps. The goal for my daughter was to clear her toys in the evening and for the boy was the same to keep is simple. She was very excited to draw the star herself and thus motivated to clear the toys. It was the most efficient motivator. He was not totaly into it, but happy to color his item.
    I'm exploring the chart system, the pros and cons, as it is not used here, but only for home use. I read your post and most of the comments. Do you think that the charts that reward the good behaviour toward enforcing a good habit are wrong? or have a hiden, undesired effect on children?
    I foud it would be a good idea to establish a goal, discuss what/how/why and encourage/reward the poztive result. Minimize the punishment and use it only when really necesary. All this instead of reminding every day, that ends up in too much talking and naging. I have noticed that the kids tend to relate differently to an outside authority than at home with mum that is so familiar. Please feel free to suggest other methods that may work at home.
    Thank you for your time and your advice. Anca

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  86. Thanks so much for sharing and commenting!
    I think the kind of chart you are describing is fine. It is used in the home, not in a public arena like a classroom. You are using it to track rewards for positive behavior and you are monitoring how it affects your children. They are not being made to feel inadequate for making mistakes, you are helping them learn responsibility and feel a sense of accomplishment for helping at home. Very different form the kind of charts I describe that are used in classrooms which are public and track negative behavior.
    That being said, you are not alone in having your kids whine about completing chores and behave better at school than at home. Many other moms are in the same boat! Myself included!

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  87. Thank you for posting this!! For my first 3 years of teaching I did not use a behavior chart. I changed counties and the school I'm currently at now loves the idea of behavior charts. I have one up to "conform" but I don't even have the clips on it! I only use it when I feel like I've said a child's name 100 times that day!
    What I use instead is a "pocket and stick" system. I have these magnetic holders from the dollar store that I call pockets. The pockets are on my board with a picture of each child above a pocket. They earn popsicle sticks for all kinds of positive behavior. At the end of the day, we count the sticks and 5 or more sticks means they get our school's PBS reward which is a "Pride Paw." I really find that this pocket and stick system works because it's all positive based!

    Elyse Rhodes @ A is for Apples
    www.facebook.com/k.apples

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  88. Not sure where you all teach at but there is NO way I would try a Take A Break space in my classroom! My Head Start kids kick, scream, bite and hit. They would tear that space up in five minutes flat!

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  89. I am not a teacher yet, I am student teaching next year, buts e have discussed a little the arguments against behavior charts. While I do not have the experience of a teacher, I see a lot of value in having students see visually where they are at, as well as allowing them to move up and down during the day. Most charts I've seen have students start in one spot, with chances to move up even higher or go down. I also like the ones that use different colors instead of green for good and red for bad. I have also considered having a Take a break spot in my room one day like you suggested, but more for students to use instead of as behavior management.

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  90. I am not a teacher yet, I am student teaching next year, buts e have discussed a little the arguments against behavior charts. While I do not have the experience of a teacher, I see a lot of value in having students see visually where they are at, as well as allowing them to move up and down during the day. Most charts I've seen have students start in one spot, with chances to move up even higher or go down. I also like the ones that use different colors instead of green for good and red for bad. I have also considered having a Take a break spot in my room one day like you suggested, but more for students to use instead of as behavior management.

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  91. How do you keep the kids from misusing the take a break center to avoid doing work. I could imagine a line forming to sit in the spot. I'm intrigued though!

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    1. When I first explain the station, I make sure every child in the class gets a turn in the station just to experience it. Once the novelty wears off, I never have a problem with over use. Of course, there's always that one kid! I think if they are not missing too much class time, I wouldn't say much. If it is clearly an avoidance behavior to visit the station, special parameters would have to be set up for that child.

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  92. Hi Nikki,

    I am a parent of an 8 year old precocious girl with ADHD. Her School uses smiley face charts that she is required to carry around with her from class to class. She gets either a smiley face or a frownie face for following directions and completing work. When you add them all up her behavior is judged 18 times a day! The counselor also tried to use a "buzzer" they would hang around her neck and it would buzz every 30 seconds to remind her to pay attention.

    I volunteer regularly and have not seen any more unfavorable behavior from her than the other students in the class I attend. Yes, she does get bored, has a hard time following multiple directions and has a hard time completing her work on time, but she wants to please her teacher and counselor so much!

    These circumstances have led her to become ostracized by other children in her class. I have witnessed children standing next to her just "staring" at her. She comes home and tells me that no one will play with her, that other children have "given up on her", the she is worthless and doesn't deserve to live! It just breaks my heart.

    I told the School how she felt and that I thought that her carrying a chart around was doing her more harm than good. The teacher was obviously upset with me and I could tell she was more interested in keeping her power that the chart had over my child than building a relationship with her and truly helping her in a positive way.

    My child has been an easy target for bullies, especially a particular girl in the class that she wants to be friends with. She has been pushed, made fun of, called names, excluded from play, ignored, stared at and had faces made at her. lt really was too much for her as none of these behaviors were being addressed by the teacher so she started hiding items in the classroom that his girl owns to try and feel in control of her circumstances.

    The teacher noticed the items missing and PUBLICLY, in front of the whole classroom announced she knew who the perpetrator was and that they needed to come forward. My daughter came up to her desk and confessed while the classroom was emptying. She related that students ware asking the teacher if she needed help dealing with the situation! She might as well put a "kick me" poster on my child's back!

    The principal likened what my daughter did to "stealing a car"!??

    I want to know the best way to talk to the teacher and principal would be. When I saw the counselor and said I didn't like the public humiliation the chart brought her (especially the buzzer) her first response was, "Your daughter tells me she likes the chart. I don't know what else to do, do you have any thoughts on how to deal with her ADHD behavior?". So I'm looking for alternative behavior systems that would work with her that are not humiliating and denigrating to her. I'm putting her in counseling to help her deal with the damage that has been done already.

    I want to bring up your system to the counselor but am afraid they will just roll their eyes at me and ignore any suggestion like that. If you have any ideas as to how to try and get other behavioral systems in place in School for children with ADHD I would appreciate it so much. I feel the expectations that the current system places on my daughter are equal to "making the deaf hear" and that they do not take into account the many differences in people and children with ADHD. Thanks so much for your article. It really struck home.

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    1. I just e-mailed my reply with a few suggestions. I do hope you find a solution and your daughter can begin to feel better about herself and school.

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    2. Thank you for taking time to help with suggestions. Could you please email me again? The only email I could find in my inbox from you was the reply to the post above mine. Thanks again!

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    3. So Sorry! Here is the reply:
      Your story just broke my heart:( I am saddened to know that my fellow educators treat children this way, but I have seen it happen to my own child, as well.
      It sounds like the teacher needs to completely abandon negative reinforcement and use only positive reinforcement to try to rebuild your daughter's confidence and self esteem. It does not have to be singled out just for your child. It can be something she starts using for everyone. She can give 'love notes' when she sees someone do something kind for someone else, or a high five for hard work, etc.

      You said she has a hard time completing work. When I have students like this, I often give the work in shorter pieces so it can be completed in stages. Or, if the child understands the concept and doesn't need as much practice as others, I may just shorten the assignment altogether.
      For following multi-step directions, I use visual directions. So if the kids need to read, cut something out, glue it down, and write a sentence, then I will put those four visuals on the board. If a kid forgets what to do next, they just look on the board to get a reminder. I do it for the whole class, so no one has to feel singled out.
      Here are a couple of examples of cards that can be used:

      http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Visual-Direction-Cards-for-the-Classroom-2-versions-included-340130
      http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Polka-Dot-Visual-Directions-Cards-565587
      http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Bright-Chevron-Picture-Direction-Cards-808732

      I don't know if you have done this or not, but you can also get an IEP. If you have a medical diagnosis of ADHD from a doctor, you can use that to request a child study meeting for your daughter. If she has behavioral and/or social issues that are affecting her school progress, she can be found OHI (Other Health Impaired) and qualify for an IEP.

      We did that for my son. He made straight A's and is academically above grade level, but he still has an IEP to help address social and behavioral issues. Some of his accommodations include shortened assignments, frequent breaks, not having to copy material form the board, and some organizational modifications.

      I hope this helps and good luck!

      Delete
  93. The buck always stops with the teacher. The teacher dictates the mood of the classroom, regardless of the tools he/she employs. A teacher with consistent, positive management can use any tool and still convey the heart of who they are. I understand the concern from those of you with children with ADHD. My own son struggled through his entire school career. It was crippling as a classroom teacher myself, to watch him in what seemed like a broken system that didn't fit his needs. In response to this, my husband and I hand picked his teachers whenever it was possible. We medicated him and put him on a 504 plan. We enrolled him in different schools in middle school, always searching for the elusive "better fit" for his learning style. In high school, he completed classes online at home, so he could avoid the behavior issues that plagued him in the traditional school setting and so that my husband and I could monitor his work and better ensure his academic success. During his senior year, we actually moved him across the country to live with his grandparents, so he could attend a smaller high school and hopefully, get more individualized attention. He still barely graduated, finishing in the bottom three in his class. He is identified as gifted, mind you. I say all of this to help those of you in my shoes. Your child's struggle may not be solved by a clip chart verses a quiet corner, home schooling verses private schooling, medicine verses no medicine. My husband and I did everything we knew, were told by experts, and read to do to try to help our son. I advocated tirelessly for him throughout his educational career. What it seems to have resulted in, however, is a gifted nineteen year old man that now doesn't advocate for himself. I tried so hard to find something that "fit him" that he never learned the coping skill to make himself "fit" to the extent that he could be successful. Please be careful that as your child's advocate, you don't create everything you are trying to avoid. Looking back, I believe I did.

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  94. I love this post! My son is three, so he's not in school, but I think about him all the time. I have completely changed my way of teaching. When I talk to kids, work with them, anything... I think about how my son would feel. Our school has implement the PBIS program and it promotes positive behavior. This is much more encouraging to children! :)

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  95. I absolutely LOVE this post! My son was in transitional kindergarten last year and that clip chart was our family's enemy! My son was 4 when he started TK in August and turned 5 in November those months between August and December were NOT fun because of that clip chart! My son ended up on orange or red far more days than yellow, blue, or green. It got to the point the teacher put him on a daily behavior chart. I was so upset because I knew h was doing his best, but was struggling with the transition for a private play-based preschool to a public academically driven public school. Plus, in his school the TK class is combined with a K class so essentially thee TK students are being held to K standards, which I did not discover until a few weeks into school. Fortunately, my son turned a corner after Winter break and the clip chart was not that much of an issue for him.
    However, I am a 5th grade teacher at the same school my son attends and we do not have a school-wide behavior plan each teacher does there own thing. Unfortunately, all the teachers in K-2 use the clip chart! Like every other comment here I think those charts are awful and do far more harm than good! As a 5th grade teacher my behavior plan is fairly simple I explain the rules and my expectations and the consequences for not following the rules. Usually, only a few students need "special" attention and for them I use something similiar to your quiet corner called Self - Reflect. I have them step outside for 2-5 minutes to self-reflect on their behavior. After 2-5 minutes I have then join the class again. If they still struggle I have the go back outside to self-reflect with a self-reflection worksheet that they, myself, and their parents need to sign. Plus, HERE is the critical part for every minute they are outside "self-reflecting" I make them stay after school and meet with me. I don't believe in taking away recess or lunch that's why thy stay after school so that I have time to connect with them.
    On another note from my experience working in a couple of schools clip charts are not effective in the long term as you mentioned moving a child's pin does not always changed their behavior. Plus, once students enter upper elementary grades (4th-6th) I have yet to meet a teacher that uses clip charts. So, why use it at all...

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  96. Wow...this opened up a floodgate. Positive reinforcement is the most productive and effective means of discipline. Why...because you are reinforcing positive behavior...cards are reinforcing negative behavior.

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  97. A friend referred me to your article. I understand the reaction of the small children to the system. At the same time, it has worked marvels for me as a high school teacher! I've been teaching 14 years, and about 4 years ago, a couple of my students asked if we could do the yard sticks and clothes pins for class discipline. I laughed, but they were serious. Then all my classes wanted a yard stick! I had six yard sticks and 130 clothes pins! I have also been known as a very strict teacher with lots of referrals to the office each year. However, when I started using the clothes pins, my number of referrals dropped! My students had a good visual representation of where they stood with me each day. Because I only see them for an hour each day, I moved clothes pins back up on Friday afternoon to start fresh on Monday. So, I will continue to do what works as crazy as it is for high school students.

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  98. I hope more educators can embrace this without getting fired. This is why I am in private practice (I teach piano to non-verbal students via Skype). I will NOT be told how to augment my student's strengths and empower they abilities.

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  99. From the (now grown) child's perspective:

    Every time I lost my points for the day (we had points for behaviors), I saw absolutely no reason to try anymore. I had failed. I was a failure. I was bad. So, since being bad was what I was good at, I started taking pride in it. I counted detentions as merit badges, suspensions as trophies. I knew I could never be good enough, so I didn't want to try and fail. Failing hurt too much.

    Oh, and stims/ticks with ADHD get worse with attention, just like with tourettes, so I was mis-diagnosed with that briefly, too.

    DX: ADHD, ODD (later: severe recurrent depression, etc.)

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  100. I am moving from 5th to 2nd next year and thought having a clip chart was just what the "littles" teachers were supposed to do. Last year I used Dojo points with my 5th graders and it worked very well. After reading this and several comments, I WILL NOT be using a clip chart with my littles. Love the Take a Break area

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  101. What would you suggest for a 5th grade classroom? I love this idea!

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  102. I have to admit I am moved from definitely using a clip chart to on the fence. I stopped and thought about my own schooling and I never remember teachers using any trick or gimmicks to get us to behave. Maybe because phone calls home used to be more effective. I also think that all my teachers had been teaching for a number of years and learned how to naturally control a class. I am thinking of getting rid of the chart and you guys have given me a lot to think of. I think the greatest drawback of clip charts is it is too easy to use them punitively only and forget to use them for positive behavior. Personally I often forget when the whole class is on track and only remember when someone is acting up. I did have a student last year that started hating coming to school when he had used to be looking forward to it. I think now that it may have been that clip chart .... ummm .. food for thought.

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  103. My nephew is severely ADD. His mom is living with us while she goes through school.

    This last year, his teacher started by using a clip chart, and by the end of the second term, his clip never got moved (even at the beginning of the day) to green. By the end of the year, she had come up with a log book of things kids did wrong, and he couldn't so much as sneeze without having to enter his name in the log book for being disruptive. After 3 entries he had to have a letter sent home with all his offenses, and signed by mom, uncle or me so she knew we knew he was a bad kid.

    It was so demoralizing for him. It caused us no end of trouble and heartbreak for Mom, Uncle and Me. My nephew is a good kid, with a medical condition that makes it so he has trouble concentrating even when medicated.

    No one system is perfect; however the teachers need to focus on working with the so called 'Problem' children and find ways they can succeed, instead of making them feel like they are pond scum who can't do anything right.

    We had to become helicopter parents as one teacher so kindly put it, because without it, our child would have had a mental breakdown which he came so close to having many times.

    Please recheck your attitudes for the teachers who don't want the parents involved because it is our children (nieces, nephews) your systems demoralize. It's our families who have to deal with your systems of putdowns.

    For the poster of this system, it is a start in the right direction. Don't focus on who/what went wrong, focus on getting back on track, and making school a place our children want to go.

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  104. Not sure if my previous comment was published. If not, my question is what do you do if a child refuses to go to the "take a break" spot?

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  105. Great post! I have been fighting this fight for years. I am now at a school that makes every teacher post a color chart with clips Good, and down. I was told I HAVE to have one up, so this is what I did. (attached) I NEVER move kids down from good, they can only earn their way up. http://www.pinterest.com/pin/94223817177291915/ Again thank you for the courage to post such scandalous ideas. Keep fighting the good fight.

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  106. I LOVE LOVE LOVE that so many teachers are getting "away" from the clip chart! I am a Conscious Discipline teacher here, and I have bought responsive classroom books, just haven't read them yet!!

    I am a mother of 3 children, ALL very different. My oldest child was a very head strong, articulate, "my way or the highway" kind of student. So, you can just IMAGINE her color on the clip chart every day...yep...RED...EVERY SINGLE DAY. Here's what she learned in school. I am a bad person. I cannot behave. I will never be a good student. Everyone knows I will misbehave, and they expect it. Did she learn to change her behavior? NO!! It just brought her self esteem so low that she actually thought she was an awful person!!

    Child #2...my son was a DREAM in the classroom. Always made the right choices, always did his work, listened to the teacher, ALWAYS ended his day on purple (the highest). One day, he was being "picked on" by a child because of his behavior (called teacher's pet...etc) He tried to tell the child that he was NOT a teacher's pet, and the teacher caught him off task and moved his clip down. Just 1 notch, no big deal, right? WRONG!! He was sooo upset, he thought the teacher hated him, he didn't want to go to school, he began throwing up and having panic attacks. This was the beginning of a school experience of being bullied for years to come. I'm not saying that the chart caused him to be bullied, but I am saying that even a good student who never got in trouble got stressed out about the clip chart! I HATE THEM!

    child #3...his teachers never used one. I don't know how he got so lucky, but that's what he was...lucky! He hasn't always had the best teachers in the world, but not one single teacher that he had used a clip chart. I would have to say his educational experiences have been the best so far! He has ADHD, so he has never been the "model" student like my older son, but he has never come home stressed about his behavior, either. I have never gotten notes about his behavior or phone calls. When I took him to be tested for ADHD in Middle School, I had to have a teacher survey filled out, I asked his teacher to fill one out, and she readily agreed that he needed to be tested for ADHD. I was a little taken aback, because I had never gotten any complaints from her on his behavior. When I asked about it, the teacher said..."I don't punish students for not being able to control their impulses, I re-direct and focus on positive. Daniel knows that he can walk over to the counter at any time and get a fidget if he needs one to keep still. When tapping his pencil repeatedly on the desk, I give him a rubber mat. WOW!!! I was blown away! Anyway, sorry to vent, but PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE think of other options before using the clip chart! Rant over. Sorry so long!!

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  107. Realize too, that most of those behavior charts never allow students to move up. They can only move down which is even more degrading. Hats off to you. And God bless your son.

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  108. I got rid of my behavior chart last year. I'm never going back to it! Aside from the issues you mentioned in your post, I found that I couldn't remember WHY a student clipped down! Parents would ask me and I'd be standing there dumbfounded trying to remember! I switched to ClassDojo instead and life is SO much better for everyone! I don't have the negative points showing and instead focus on the positive. And students earn rewards for meeting their goals.

    I just followed you on TPT as well as put your item in my basket! Hoping to carve out a corner to make a space like you have. It's a great idea! Thank you!

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  109. This is a wonderful idea! Homeschooling my son this year (nearly 4) and he would definitely fall into the "always red" category. I know at home I've tried the whole behavior chart and not had ANY success with it. It just leaves us both exhausted and frustrated by the end of the day. He goes to time out and I can hear him saying "oh why did I DO that? I just wanted to be good. Why aren't I good?" and it just kills me.

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