This thread is for introducing and discussing the merits of different approaches to classroom management. It doesn’t have to be a whole system- it can be for specific scenarios and one on one intervention. Here’s one of mine:
Multi-level Point Keeping
We’re all familiar with assigning points and deducting points. There are sticker systems, etc. in different schools. So this idea isn’t really all that novel, but I think it can be an improvement on the basic system for a class that needs that extra level of motivation or control.
Short Version: Make multiple levels of point systems- Class level, small group level, and individual level.
Points to keep in mind-
- Attach an appropriate, tangible reward to points (virtual rewards)
- Make the reward appropriate to the age group. Less homework, leaving class 5 mins early for older kids- a sticker or a song for younger ones, etc.
- Make points modular. If you use “money”, don’t add it all up, keep it separate so that you can erase one unit of reward for unwanted behavior.
- Add to what students get or take away from what they don’t want. Don’t tack on extra work or make them stay longer then they used to. Make the points system be a bonus rather than something unwanted.
- Connect different kinds of point systems to different behaviors.
- Make getting points a consequence of preset behaviors (but do leave yourself some wiggle-room for using variable periodic reinforcement for some things…)
- Negative reinforcement is powerful, but it also feels bad. Use it sparingly. Rather than taking points away from an offending team it may be better to give points to the other team(s).
- Let the class be merciful to others. If you are ever inclined to give someone another chance, don’t give it to them directly. Ask the entire class or the other team if they should get another chance. Most often they’ll say give them another chance.
- Give virtual rewards, verbal rewards immediately following desired behavior. Don’t delay.
Longer Version: I taught a kindy class where kids would either get a star at the end of the day or not. If they got 3 stars in a week they would get a sticker. Get 10 stickers and you get a prize. Unfortunately, that didn’t give me much room for maneuvering, so I revised the system. I changed it to 10 stickers, but allowed myself to give kids as many stars as they deserved. I also could take stars away.
What I found when I did this, though, was that the kids would try and get each other in trouble if they were unhappy with each other. I got the tattle-tale syndrome. So, I added a second level. If the class were to get 3 rainbows (each rainbow consisted of 3 lines) they would get to sing a beloved song, get a treat, or whatever it was I decided to promise them.
So, then if someone was speaking Chinese or doing anything that was forbidden in the class, not only would that person lose a star on their personal chart, but the entire class would lose a line from a rainbow. If the entire class did anything well together as a whole they would either get a line of a rainbow, or an entire rainbow. Needless to say, no sooner than I implemented that second system (and dropped a hint not to tell me when others misbehaved but to take it up directly with the offender) than the kids started correcting each other’s behavior and the tattle-tale syndrome quickly diminished. I did have to use my star/rainbow systems to modify how they corrected each other from time to time, but it worked on that behavior as well.
Of course, the story can’t end without discussing small group rewards. Team A vs. Team B. No matter what research can be done about using non-competitive games, encouraging cooperation etc., competitive team play motivates most kids like nothing else. In this same kindy class my CT devised separate star system for each table. The table that sat down the fastest after bathroom break and had their bowl ready for lunch fastest would get 1 star. The team with the most stars at the end of the week got candy. Stars on non-winning teams did not get erased from week to week, so teams who were habitually slower still got rewarded for being fast, just less frequently.
This system dramatically sped up the running of the class during transition times. Because of the candy the table stars became the most valuable commodity, and hence a powerful positive reinforcer and negative reinforcer.
I’ve tried variations of multiple levels of reward in several classes and it has always been successful, although the degree of success has been different for each class.