Disagree with 1st grade "behavior modification/incentive" plan - Mothering Forums

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Old 09-02-2010, 11:45 AM - Thread Starter
 
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What to do I do if I disagree with the 1st grade classroom "behavior modification/incentive" plan set forth by the teacher?

I don't believe in rewards for good behavior. I think it teaches the wrong values to a child. I think people ought to behave and follow the rules because it is the right thing to do. If a person needs a reward to do the right thing then there is a problem.

I've just reviewed the system the teachers plan to set forth in the classroom. Here's is how the system is described:

The teachers will implement a combination of two behavior systems. Each day a student will begin with their name clip on the green smiley face. If students are not exhibiting appropriate behavior they will be asked to move to the yellow face. If the inappropriate behavior goes on they will be asked to move to the red face and at that time a note will be sent home for the parents to sign and return.

If a student keeps their name clip on the green smiley face all day they will receive a piece of their rainbow. After getting all pieces of the rainbow students will be rewarded with a sticker. Once they collect three stickers they will receive a special prize.

I know my child will be totally stressed out if he ever has to move his face to yellow. He will feel mortified. At home we have not done rewards for following rules or good behavior. Am I totally being unrealistic with disagreeing with this system?
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Old 09-02-2010, 11:50 AM
 
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I can tell you that my school has the green/yellow/red bulletin board and I hate it. They don't even offer a "positive" alternative. I don't know what to tell you to do, but s because I am right there with you.
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Old 09-02-2010, 11:59 AM
 
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I think that's pretty standard, and I don't really know what better alternative there is. It's nice to think that all kids should do the right thing because it's right, but when you're dealing with a classroom of kids from a variety of backgrounds with a variety of families with various levels of discipline and self control..... Simply doing nothing sounds like chaos in a matter of moments.

I think you'll be surprised in your son's reaction, too. Maybe not. Certainly, you know your child and I do not. But MANY kids will get their cards turned often, and some of them will go to red frequently. Even if your son's gets turned to yellow, I think he'll realize that no one even notices or cares, except him.
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Old 09-02-2010, 12:05 PM
 
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You are not being unrealistic in disagreeing... However, it is unrealistic to expect a different method, if that is the case. That is one of the sacrifices we make in choosing to allow others to educate our children. Voice your concerns, absolutely, however I don't think it is reasonable to be upset if the teacher does not acquiesce.

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Old 09-02-2010, 12:19 PM
 
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Sure, you can disagree with it, but what exactly are you expecting to happen as a result? That your child will be exempt from the plan? That would probably be more mortifying than hitting yellow for him. Are you going to devise an alternative plan and present it to the teacher and hope that she chooses to implement your plan instead? Seems kind of unlikely...
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Old 09-02-2010, 12:38 PM
 
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While I agree with you to a certain extent, the reward system she has in place is actually pretty tame. It's much better than the stacks candy my DD would get in 1st grade every single day lol (back when that was legal in our state.) At least her system will take some actual time to accomplish.

I've learned that what you do at home is what really matters in this reguard. The rewards are there for the kids who need them and the more difficult cases sometimes do. To most kids who never have issues, it's exciting at first but then they sort of forget about it. Getting some stickers and earning little toys or extra recess time isn't going to ruin your child from doing what is right for the sake of what is right if that is what you are teaching at home.

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Old 09-02-2010, 12:46 PM
 
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I'm not a fan-it's extremely predictable. There are kids who are always on green, all day, every day (my oldest was this way). There are kids who are all over the place, depending upon the activity, or time of day, or how engaged they are (my youngest was this way). No surprise that it often broke down by gender.

I talked realistically w/my kids about this plan, and acknowledged that as a mama, there were days that I wasn't always on "green"-we all laughed, but I think that the reality is that few of us would merit such a distinction, all day, every day. I think behavior mod plans like this work for a little while, but often not long term.
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Old 09-02-2010, 12:48 PM
 
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Originally Posted by LightToast View Post
I think people ought to behave and follow the rules because it is the right thing to do. If a person needs a reward to do the right thing then there is a problem.
<snip>
I know my child will be totally stressed out if he ever has to move his face to yellow. He will feel mortified. At home we have not done rewards for following rules or good behavior. Am I totally being unrealistic with disagreeing with this system?
My kiddo got "on yelllow" twice in Kindy, and as you described above, was mortified. We never did anything like that at home either, so it was new for him. We talked about the situations, discussed what he could do next time to avoid the yellow, and then dropped it to show it wasn't a big deal to us so he shouldn't sweat it.

I agree with others that you're not unrealistic in disagreeing with it, but I'll also point out that I was a parent who never used rewards or punishments for the first 4/6 years of my kid's lives, and now at 6 and 4 I'm finding myself using logical consequences, because they're not doing the "right" thing just because they're the right thing to do (and we discuss and explain and give options, etc. and sometimes they still don't do the thing they should)...and I don't think I've done anything wrong in teaching them, and I don't think they have any 'problems' - it's just where they are right now, figuring out their place in the world, exerting independence, etc.

Soooo anyway, multiplying my 2 kids times an entire classroom of kids that might not do what they should be doing, for whatever reason, and I can see why they need *some* kind of system in place, and also why a punishment/reward type system would likely have to be it, since it's what most kids are used to. Our school didn't give rewards for staying on green, the visual of seeing the names/havign to sit out on fun things if they were on red was enough of a system to keep the classroom from erupting into chaos as a PP mentioned above.

Is it the way I would parent my own children? Nope. Is it something I'm going to fight? Nope. It is what it is, and when sending a kid to public school you just ahve to deal with some things, it's part of the package.

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Old 09-02-2010, 01:54 PM
 
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I can see why you feel the way you do, but I also think you either have to make your peace with it or put your child in an alternative school. This is pretty much how things are done.

We never did punishments/rewards at home (I'm a fan of Alfie Kohn) but things being different at school wasn't a big deal for my kids. We talked about it. Both my kids are generally *good* kids (i.e. they are calm, quiet girls) so there was very seldom an issue with either of them. They understand that the teachers are doing the best they can to maintain an environment where all kids can learn, and some of the kids have a harder time with that than others.

I think that kids have a greater capacity to adjust to a different set of rules than we generally give them credit for. May be it will be a chance for your child to grow. He isn't always going to be perfect. He needs to make his peace with that. Rather than fighting the system (which is a battle you won't win) I think that helping him understand that it isn't that big of a deal would be more helpful to him. Use it as a chance to help him grow as a person.

but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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Old 09-02-2010, 02:09 PM
 
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Something that I have discussed with my kids (and you all may disagree and that is fine) is that there are somethings that happen in "establishments" (school, work etc..) that ultimately don't mean anything but you have to go along with and play the game. I waited until my older two were older (8+) before talking about this, but I had to do it last year with my youngest (he was in kindy) when he hated his home work because it was ridiculously easy for him and he felt it was pointless. They had a behavior system of smilies and letters but it came home every night. He initially was very concered because he would frequently get a T for talking (because he would finish his work and be bored.... see first gripe...lol) and he was afraid he would get in trouble at home for it. I had to let him know that unless it was extreme, I really didnt care. His teacher is responsible at school, and trusted her to handle things accordingly and I did not need to know every little wrong he committed. I told him I signed it because it made his teacher happy (playing the game) but that there would be no further consequences at home (provided it was not an extreme issue again)... He was fine with it after that. They all know that there are things that happen at school that I feel are a crock of $h!t and that we deal with simply because we must. They also know that if it is a big deal, I will take additional action but mama picks her battles to keep the school from hating her... =)

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Old 09-02-2010, 02:23 PM
 
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The challenge is that at home, none of are managing upwards of 20 kids at a time all day long. There has to be some level of control of the classroom to which all students adhere. I have seen the system you describe work very well. I think it's fine at home to have one set of rules, but school is different. You have already talked with your son, so that will make a big difference.
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Old 09-02-2010, 03:50 PM
 
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I teach 4th grade, and next week I will have 31 students in my class.

I do a flip card system, kind of like the green-yellow-red, thing. Do I like it? Not necessarily. Quite frankly, I rarely use it. I prefer to speak one-on-one to a child who is not behaving well.

However, I use this system for documentation when needed. If I have a particularly troubled student whom I refer for counseling, etc. I have to have a record of the times the student has had issues. It presents a much stronger case when I can say that I've had to talk with a student or call home X times than when the answers are more vague. I can't always write down when I've talked to a student, but I can look at the flip card chart before I go home and jot down any notes about why a student might have flipped a card.

I hope that helps a little with understanding why the teacher might have this system.
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Old 09-02-2010, 04:19 PM
 
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How many kids are in your sons class? How many kids do you have at home?

My daughters class has a similar system, though with stars and there is an orange thrown in (for "try again") I do not mind it one bit. I know that I couldn't do a better job with 19 5 years olds! Yellows are no big deal to me or the teacher, it's just a visual warning (also given with a verbal warning) and it takes a LOT (physical or verbal assult) to earn a red (which would equal detention if they were older.)

I understand why you don't like the system, but how do you propse the teacher go about discipline in a large class of 6-7 year olds?

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Old 09-02-2010, 04:24 PM
 
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I completely agree with you - I can't stand those kinds of things. But, I also think it is unrealistic to think that there is any way around it in a typical classroom. You can talk to the teacher about the stress it causes your child, and see if she has any other solutions, but I have yet to see a classroom, public or private, that doesn't have some sort of reward/discipline plan.
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Old 09-02-2010, 04:26 PM
 
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K-2 or 3 do the same system here.

It isn't as cut & dry as if you misbehave you go to yellow. Usually there are 1-2 requests/reminders before they'll turn to yellow. On yellow they do it again. A child has to be pretty bad to get to red. They are more strict with it at the beginning of the year than at the end until kids get used to the system.
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Old 09-02-2010, 04:34 PM
 
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Yeah, I hate it too. My big guy is a worrier, and he just cringes at the thought of getting a write up. It's sad. In their kindy class, they would each have a small piece of paper about half the size of a post-it note, and would have to make tick marks on it themselves when the teacher called them out about a behavior. 5 marks = 1 write up. 2 write ups = no Eagle Bucks for the week. They get to cash them in for books and games and stuff. He's in 1st this year and they have the green/yellow/red thing, and so far he seems to respond the same to both systems.

The good news is that he settled into it after a long time, and this year is a lot less worried about it, and the second half of last year it seemed to bother him less. I think for him, it was the fear that he would suddenly BAM! get 5 marks without meaning to, and get a write up. His worst days were when the whole class would get marks because of too much talking, and OH the indignation! :

Anyway, my point is that while it kinda sucks, there's really no better way to manage a classroom of really energetic, excited kiddos, and in our school, there's no shaming involved about it, so it's the best system I think they can implement at this point.

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Old 09-02-2010, 06:36 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Okay, so it seems this is a common classroom management technique and I wasn’t aware of it. Darn, I was really hoping there was something better! It sounds weird to me. Kindergarten last year didn't have anything like this. I thought there would be something better going nowadays.

If it’s a huge focal point I'll find it very difficult to not be concerned about the potential ill-effects. I would definitely welcome doing without the stickers and prizes. It just seems so contrived and I don’t want to bribe my kids for doing what they should be doing anyway.

I’ve got to figure out how to downplay “the system” for my son so he doesn’t worry about it too much. He is very sensitive and worries way too much about these kinds of things.

I do sympathize with the teachers. I know that having so many kids at once is extremely challenging. However, I think it really stinks that teachers feel compelled to use this method. School hasn't started yet so I don't know exactly how this will be implemented. Hopefully, it'll be very low key. Darn those prizes! Maybe donating something to someone would be a better prize.
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Old 09-02-2010, 06:44 PM
 
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Beyond being mortified when he was on yellow the 2 times it happened last year, my DS was acutely sensitive to *other* kids getting on yellow or red. He is so in tune and sensitive that he hates to see other kids get in trouble, so we had to work with him on not only is it not a big deal for minor things to get on yellow and we're not upset, but that he needed to kind of breathe and let go of other kids getting in trouble, that it wasn't his responsibility to help out other kids to stay on green. By the end of the year he was pretty OK with it, though I do know it still bothers him when other people get in trouble (and truthfully, that's genetic because I am very uncomfortable when other people are in trouble or embarrassed, too.)

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Old 09-03-2010, 05:02 AM
 
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While the program is standard in many schools, there are others that work better without the shaming aspect.

The one our school uses is called: Positive Behavior Intervention Strategies (PBIS). http://www.pbis.org/

It works really well. There are rewards, but they're OK.

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Old 09-03-2010, 01:57 PM
 
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My son's kindergarten classroom used the stoplights. I was unhappy about it at the beginning of the year, too, but it ended up not being a big deal for us. Since he only had to flip his stoplight to yellow once the entire year, for the most part he forgot it was there. The thing is, though, that from what I heard, a couple of the kids in the class had to routinely flip their stoplights from the beginning of the year through the end. It doesn't seem very effective for helping children modify their behavior. And with a system like the OP described, where rainbow parts are handed out on top of the stoplights - well, it just seems like a lot of busy work for the teacher!

We were talking about it in a Love and Logic class we took, and the instructors disagreed with the system. As they pointed out, giving children a few chances, then a yellow light before they get to the red light (which is where consequences actually kick in) teaches them that they have several chances to misbehave before anything happens to them. Some kids get very good at gaming the system.

DS's first grade class is using PBIS, which LynnS linked to. I'm not keen on rewarding for good behavior, either, but we'll see how it goes. Today is his first full day, and DS is already planning how he is going to spend his points.
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Old 09-03-2010, 02:15 PM
 
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I agree with others that this type of system is pretty standard in most schools. The way I look at it, in the real world there are rewards for good behavior (a promotion or a raise at work) and consequences for so called bad behavior (getting fired). I have never had a problem with these types of behavior management systems for children. Teachers need to manage a large group of children so they have to use what works.
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Old 09-03-2010, 10:15 PM
 
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I agree with others that this type of system is pretty standard in most schools. The way I look at it, in the real world there are rewards for good behavior (a promotion or a raise at work) and consequences for so called bad behavior (getting fired). I have never had a problem with these types of behavior management systems for children. Teachers need to manage a large group of children so they have to use what works.
But there are better systems, like the PBIS, that have rewards and consequences, but without the shaming aspect that the stoplight system encourages. PBIS also encourages kids to do the right thing, rather than catching them doing the wrong thing. It actively teaches what's expected rather than assuming all kids know it.

I'm OK with the system that our school uses. I also know that the incentives are used a lot in grades K-2 when they're really teaching the rules. By 3rd grade, they're not used as often because the kids have internalized the rules.

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Old 09-04-2010, 09:43 PM
 
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My son's school also uses PBIS. It seems to work really well.
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Old 09-05-2010, 06:00 PM
 
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Our sons 2nd grade teacher is using the flip card system, only she has 5 levels - green, yellow, orange, red and blue. Orange and red include missed recess time and blue is a call home by the child. I find this to be an absolutely HORRIBLE system and may be transferring my son to a different class that doesn't use it if we can't come to some kind of agreement. I was discussing this with the teacher on Friday and told her that I felt the "classroom management system" worked off a basis of peer pressure, public humiliation and privacy invasion and she replied "And you're absolutely right!". How do you argue when the teacher things those are GOOD things?? However, student privacy is becoming a BIG deal, especially in our area. Having a childs behaviour posted with their name for everyone to see, including the parents of other children, violates that, so probably the best I can hope for is to have the names changed to a code system, like each child being given a number. That at least minimizes some of the concerns. The recess restriction is for round 2.

After agreeing with me about the basis of the system, the teacher went on to emphasize that the bulk of the program was based on rewards. Seriously, she made it sound like they get rewarded for wiping their own bottom! Considering this isn't reflective of the real world and does nothing to inspire intrinsic motivation, we're not too thrilled about that either! I forsee a change in teachers in the near future, if that weren't possible I'd pull my child and homeschool - even though that's really not something I want to do.

OP if I remember correctly, if you go back about a year or 2 you will find a discussion on this that was much less supportive of the system with a lot of good info on why it's flawed. Good luck!
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Old 09-05-2010, 11:27 PM
 
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It's true, kids (and adults) shouldn't be rewarded for doing the right thing, but we all like acknowledgement when we do something well. I'm also a teacher and I don't utilize anything specific like that in my class, but I do make it a point to tell kids when they're doing something well and let them know what I expect. The fact of the matter is that there are many kids (and adults) who don't do the right thing just because they're supposed to.

Those are also the kids who get their clip moved, their card turned, or whatever else on a regular basis. In my observations and internships before I graduated, I saw this method used and it really turned me off - the same kids moved every day. But, I've also seen other teachers use it with decent success.

The only way to really get around it is to homeschool. There aren't any really quick, easy alternatives in a classroom of 25+ students (I have 31 4th graders this year, my dd has 29 5th graders in her class and ds2 has 27 1st graders) When you figure in the special needs, IEPs, etc., it's just the nature of the beast.

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Old 09-06-2010, 12:17 AM
 
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I was just on an interview committee for the new K/1 teacher at the school I teach at, which is also the school dd will probably go to for K next year. All of the candidates described some sort of reward/punishment system like this. Every time I cringed when I imagined dd being involved with that. BUT, as a teacher, I've had to use systems like that too. When you have a whole classroom of kids, sometimes that is the most efficient way to create the organization needed to be able to teach. We try very hard to help kids with social and personality issues, but when it comes right down to it, the thing teachers are held more accountable for is academic content. If it takes some silly system to be able to spend the least amount of time actually addressing behavior head-on, then the teacher has more time to teach the standards she is required to teach. It sucks sometimes, but that's the reality of public school.

I think another big thing to remember is that putting a group of kids of the same age in the same space with one adult--two if you're lucky--for hours at a time is completely different than at home, and therefore requires completely different methods of making things work. It is unreasonable to expect a teacher will treat kids the same way parents do. (I'm not neccessarily saying anyone here expects that, but I'm sure someone does somewhere in the back of their head.)
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Old 09-06-2010, 01:09 AM
 
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I have to respectfull disagree. There are just a few teachers in the school who utilize this type of program, yet those that do not have not lost control of their class. I discussed this at length with my mom who's been in elementary education for about 40 years (teacher, sp ed teacher, principal, counselor, etc.) and has never utilized flip cards, constant rewards or recess restriction, nor did most of her coworkers and they were able to maintain order in their classes. By rewards I do not mean verbal praise, and sure it's great to be acknowledged for doing something right. And I'm not against tangible rewards. But a constant diet of them presents an unrealistic expectation in students. I don't think it's unreasonable to expect teachers to create a productive environment without utilizing systems that reinforce negative life lessons. I do think it's sad that so many parents in many districts (not referring specifically to anyone/anything said here) aren't willing to look harder at some of these programs and say anything about them.
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Old 09-06-2010, 04:34 AM
 
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Sunshine - I'd love some concrete examples of what to do that does not utilize some sort of reward/punishment system. I don't use the flip card things, but I do sometimes withhold recess. Not as a punishment, per se, but a natural consequence - I explain to the class if they choose to play when they have work time, then they will have to work when it's play time. I don't see that as a punishment, but a consequence. I think there is a very fine line, of course.

And having 30+ kids in a classroom is nothing like taking care of kids at home. 30+kids while trying to teach an endless amount of (sometimes non age appropriate) standards, it's natural to default to the quickest/easiest route.

Agreed it's not necessarily the best. I'm always striving to improve personally, but with seniority and tenure such an issue all over, there's not much incentive beyond personal best to change these discipline methods. I mean, the tenured teachers won't lose their job no matter what, so they don't need to change and the non tenured teachers will lose their job no matter how well they're doing. It's very discouraging, both as a teacher and a parent.

Michelle -mom to Katlyn 4/00 , Jake 3/02, and Seth 5/04
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Old 09-06-2010, 11:42 AM
 
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Originally Posted by shelbean91 View Post
Sunshine - I'd love some concrete examples of what to do that does not utilize some sort of reward/punishment system. I don't use the flip card things, but I do sometimes withhold recess. Not as a punishment, per se, but a natural consequence - I explain to the class if they choose to play when they have work time, then they will have to work when it's play time. I don't see that as a punishment, but a consequence. I think there is a very fine line, of course.

And having 30+ kids in a classroom is nothing like taking care of kids at home. 30+kids while trying to teach an endless amount of (sometimes non age appropriate) standards, it's natural to default to the quickest/easiest route.

Agreed it's not necessarily the best. I'm always striving to improve personally, but with seniority and tenure such an issue all over, there's not much incentive beyond personal best to change these discipline methods. I mean, the tenured teachers won't lose their job no matter what, so they don't need to change and the non tenured teachers will lose their job no matter how well they're doing. It's very discouraging, both as a teacher and a parent.
When I was working as an ed assistant we had a workshop with Barbara Coloroso (she wrote Kids are Worth It and was a teacher) to address this very issue. I don't know if it's commercially available but she had a series of handbooks for teachers & administrators on running a classroom without behaviour modification methods, so it might be worth seeing if that's out there.

I worked in several classrooms without something like a flip card system, and recess wasn't something that could be taken away, and classrooms were still appropriately managed. But I have to say it wasn't a single technique that led to that - it was how the entire day was structured, and also a lot about the teacher's relationship to the kids and capacity to step in, all of which takes time. I never was solely in charge so I would be hesitant to try to give anyone step-by-step instructions, but I would say it was largely about positive expectations.

For example when a class was getting antsy, the teacher would step in, shut the lights on and off, and say something like "it's too antsy in here! Let's all jump up and down 30 times and then sit down and take 5 deep breaths before getting back to our work" as opposed to "you're all going to miss recess." The focus was on giving the kids the tools they needed to settle rather than taking away something they clearly needed that day (recess).

But of course it isn't that simple - it had to do with the whole rhythm and flow.

~ Mum to Emily, March 12-16 2004, Noah, born Aug 2005, Liam, born January 2011, and wife to Carl since 1994. ~
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Old 09-16-2010, 02:42 AM
 
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Took me a while to get back to this - but I know what you mean. I'm working on 'Positive Discipline' to find the root cause of the behavior and to try to prevent issues in the first place. I agree - that is a much better way to handle things, but it does take time and that's something that is frequently in short supply.

Michelle -mom to Katlyn 4/00 , Jake 3/02, and Seth 5/04
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