Classroom management can be a nightmare! From one year to the next you don’t know whether you should change up what you’re doing or keep what you’ve always done. However, what I realized is I am always going back to the same tried and true classroom management systems because they were stinkin’ simple! Plus, I realized when I was trying to change something, I was changing an unbroken system. If you’re a new teacher or your classroom management system hasn’t been working, here are three that will work and two that never did.
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What are Classroom Management Systems?
A classroom management system is a tool you have in your classroom that helps your students visually see whether or not they are following your classroom expectations. Your classroom expectations can vary depends on what you do in your classroom. For example, if you use math and literacy centers and have center expectations. These can be used as part of your classroom expectations too. Now, of course, you need to make sure you have clear, concise expectations for them to follow that you have practiced and gone through before you dive into any classroom management system. But once you start using them, you want them to be simple, inexpensive, and manageable!
The Scoreboard Classroom Management System
Now, let me preface this by saying I did not invent Scoreboard, but I found it when I was doing some Whole Brain Teaching training and it works so easy. What do you need? All you need is your Expo marker and white board. You draw a simple scoreboard on your white board. I always started with teacher vs. students or I used simple smiley faces and frowny faces.
How to Make the Scoreboard System Work
First you draw a T-Chart on your white board and label it with Teacher and Students. When your students are doing what they are supposed to, they get a point or a smiley. If the students aren’t doing what is expected of them, then you get a point or they get a frowny face.
Now, you can’t just give points, smileys, and frownies, there has to be more to it than that! That’s where whole brain teaching brought in the one second party or the mighty groan. The one second party is exactly that amount of time. One second. What I would do is give them their point or smiley while saying, “Wait for it.” Then I would point to them and they would all say “Oh yeah!” and that was it! There was no extra. That was the end of the one second party. This same method works for the mighty groan. If a student is not following your classroom expectations, you are either going to give yourself a point or give them a frowny (whichever method you chose) and say, “Might groan.” They raise their shoulders up to their ears and then just groan one time. It is quick. If they get out of hand with their mighty groan, that earns you another point or them another frowny.
What you have to remember with this system is you have to keep it close! You can’t have your students be way ahead, they think they can afford some points. On the other hand if they are way behind, they are going to feel like they can’t catch up. So, you need to keep it close.
House Points System
I absolutely love house points! It’s something that I started doing and it was amazing. I have seen some schools use it school wide which is awesome but I just did it in my classroom.
How does the House Point Classroom Management System Work?
The way I did this in my classroom was divide my class up into houses. Kind of like Harry Potter but not all schools are ok with that so make sure you know your community vibe! I chose their houses randomly by having them be “sorted.” Then, when I saw someone in the group “being good” or reaching expectations, they would get a marble or a rock in their jars. I could also take a marble or rock away. Finally, at the end of the six weeks, I would count up the marbles and whichever group had the most would get a special treat. Sometimes that was lunch in the classroom with me and I would bring ice cream or you can really do anything you like with the small group.
The cool thing about the House Points was it taught my students teamwork. So if a student in a group was doing something or was about to do something that would lose them a marble or rock, another member of their team might tell them to not or would correct the behavior before I had to.
Now, I did this in conjunction with my Scoreboard classroom management system. The House Points were a small group management system, but the Scoreboard was a whole class activity.
The Super Improver Wall Classroom Management System
I learned this while I was becoming a trainer for Whole Brain Thinking and I absolutely think it’s awesome. The Super Improver Wall breaks down classroom management just a little bit more than it already was. The Scoreboard is a whole class activity, House Points have you working in teams, and The Super Improver Wall is all about the individual. This system rewards students for improvement, not ability. We have so many students who come in and are soaring high already and those who are below grade level. This system applauds anyone and everyone who makes progress. You simply put their name on your Super Improver Wall to acknowledge their progress!
Here’s an example of what that can look like with a real-live experience that I had. When I was teaching fourth grade, I had a student come in who read at an 8th grade reading level. Now, she thought she was top dog and I commended her for being a great reader. But I told her she needed to push herself to be reading at a 9th grade reading level by the end of the year. She was shocked. Her parents were so excited. This system acknowledged the hard work she did during the school year. In addition to her getting rewarded, the boy I got who read at a second grade reading level also was recognized for his growth as well.
Classroom Management Systems that Need to Go Away
I have seen so many classroom management systems that work, but I have two that I absolutely cannot stand. I say this now, but I have to admit…I’ve used them. Here’s what they are.
The Clip Chart System
The Clip Chart is usually green on top and red on the bottom and all the kids have clothes pins and you move them up and down the color scale according to behavior. If you’re using this system, I’m not here to shame you, but there’s something about publicly displaying bad behavior that is not encouraging. Think about it this way, once you’re in the red, where are you going to go? Yeah you can work your way up but are you going to or are you going to be too angry or too embarrassed?
Again, let me preface this by saying that I did this. First of all, I spent so much money on my treasure box. Now, think about how it progresses. If you give your students a slinky on the first day of school, then they want more and more and more. You can’t do this all year long. Does this mean your kids don’t get rewarded? Of course not! You just have to start small, like really small. With the House Points, the ice cream with me was the final prize. Not doing Treasure Boxes will save you so much money. Plus, your students are not learning how to work hard or be motivated to work hard for the betterment of themselves, the team, or the class. They are going to learn to do stuff so they can get things. That’s not what we want our students to strive for in the future.
Classroom management can be a hard thing to tackle in your classroom because your students are always going to be different. However, if you implement one or all three of the classroom management systems I have used that work and avoid the two that just don’t, you can conquer this hurdle! You can still alter your expectations as needed from class to class and still have a workable system that you don’t have to work too hard to set up. You can get more organizing and classroom management tips for free here! Remember to always Keep It Stinking Simple!
Until Next Time…
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