I presented this idea to my colleagues at a staff meeting.
We all know the pitfalls and triumphs of classroom management. There are so many options available from seating arrangements to Dojos, the choice is endless. Looking at my particularly difficult class one day I reviewed the strategies I had been using and realized that they all had one thing in common. They were governed by me! My students didn’t have any empowerment and I had no way of gauging who I was giving feedback to and who I was missing.
I wanted to devise a system that ticked both these boxes and hopefully turned some behaviours around. Looking at the walls in the classrooms around me I could see most teachers had a name chart as a type of reward system. The students were rewarded with a smiley face for their choices in the classroom. I had always refrained for having this type of system, for two reasons, one it is so visible, those who don’t get a smiley will be continuously reminded and any parent walking past can see who is behaving and who isn’t. Secondly, what data was I collecting? I know who behaves and I also know the students know this as well. To me, the system wasn’t giving me any new data.
But what if I could have this same type of idea but flip it for the students? What if they were in charge of posting the smiley faces? What if I could empower them in regards to their behaviour and also track my own responses to all the students? Yes, you guessed it, I made a chart! I also made extra smilies (in tubs) and a tally strip (of 5 spaces) for each student’s desk. The plan is this.
Every time I give a student feedback on their behaviour or classroom choices they put a smiley on their desk tally strip. When the fill the strip they add a smiley to the wall chart. At the end of the day, we reviewed my progress so the students gave me feedback on how I could improve and we discussed situations and why I did or didn’t give positives. The change was amazing! For the first time, the students really engaged with how they could improve. It became a challenge for them to improve because they were the ones choosing. I gave me a very clear picture of who I needed to focus on further and who I could challenge. So then I differentiated the way the table strips were used. This was based on bettering my self and knowing who would never make five in one lesson also who always achieved five.
I loved this because the data was so clear. The students interpreted it as a meaningful and authentic way to engage and challenge themselves. If you’re struggling as I was, I will encourage you to try this.