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I Don't Use a Clip Chart

Monday, July 20, 2015

I admit… I have school on the brain right now. It’s near the end of July, and I can’t think about anything else. I’m reading different blogs about setting up classrooms and ideas for what to do during the first days of school. I’m wandering through stores looking at all the school supplies.

I think as teachers, we are wired this way. It’s a natural high of excitement. But I also think it’s a way for teachers to freshly evaluate their game plan for beginning the school year. It’s a new year, a new group of students, and sometimes (as in my case) a completely new school. I just spent 6 weeks teaching in a Learning Loss Prevention program with our local YMCA and school district. I wasn’t sure if I would end up loving this program, primarily because I teach 5th grade and I was working with rising 1st graders. But I loved it! They were so excited about learning and had fun with (almost) everything that we did. I was reminded, thought, of the one behavior management system trend that I do not like. The ever famous clip chart!

 Yep, I’m one of the few that will not use such a chart for many reasons. We used a clip chart this summer because that’s what the kids were used to. But I know that I wasn’t consistent with moving kids like I needed to be. We used it as a “clip up” for those students who were doing the right thing when others maybe were not. But I know we singled out a few when more could have also clipped up.

Here's why I don't like them...

1. I personally can’t keep up with all the clips for all the students in a fair way that still allows me to teach.

2. If consistency is the name of the behavior management game, what is consistent in a system that gives the same consequence/reward for everyone, even if it’s not the best for that child? If Student A responds well to verbal praise and public recognition, but Student B would rather a quiet and personal thumbs up or a sticker at the end of the day, then a “cookie-cutter” clip chart isn’t the best way. It works the same way with consequences. Not all consequences work for all students. You have to find what works best.

3. I find that if I’m really trying to be consistent with moving clips up and down, my focus is taken off my lessons. That can’t happen.

4. Kids have melt downs. Yep. Ask them to move their clips down, and they cry. Freak out. Shut down. Problem just became bigger and more complex.

So… what do I do? I think I’m still in search for the “perfect” idea, but I’ll share my tidbits of advice.

1. I first have to understand that my students are kids. They need redirection. They need to learn from their mistakes. So, I don’t pounce on them for minor infractions. We talk A LOT about what community in the classroom is supposed to look like, celebrate successes when I see students doing positive things, and talk about things that need to change. Just like a family.

2. Class meetings are essential. It doesn’t matter what you call them – Town Hall Meetings, Pow-Wows, Chit-Chats… The important thing is that you have them. This is where students should feel safe to share. We talk about anything from what we did to make the previous day successful, character values, problem solving (this is where behavior training comes in).

3. I like to find picture books that address issues we are having in class. By using a picture book, I can talk about an issue without referring directly to the issue. It’s a more passive way. Generic setting and characters from a story. This way, students feel free to discuss the problem/situation in a story without pointing out or embarrassing each other. We still get to talk about it.

4. I hold individual student meetings to discuss problems that aren’t being solved. These would be those classroom issues that students need a little more nudging and consequences from me to be resolved. If a student is unable to correct a problem after my own attempts at giving warnings and redirection, I tell them that I will meet with them at recess. Then I continue with my lesson. The student knows that we’ll continue this conversation at recess (or when I can get a minute away from teaching). They key here is training the students to know that I will not continue having a conversation/argument in class at that moment. They have to trust me, knowing that they will have a chance to be heard. That is the secret to classroom management. If students know they will be heard and treated fairly, they will comply.

5. I generally leave consequences up to the individual student and situation. Not all punishments fit the crime, and it’s my duty to find what works. This becomes a discussion during our class meeting; what does fair mean? As I’m having a meeting with a student, we discuss possible consequences, and I let the student choose what they think will be best. This is all part of Love and Logic thinking (

6. If my students need a visual reminder, I will put a student list on a clipboard. If they need a warning, they can place a checkmark by their name. We just rotate the clipboard as needed. I’ve also had a 3 ring binder called “The Book.” I know. Original. It works for 5th graders, though. If they’ve had way too many warnings, I may have the student sign the book. Along with their signature, they have to write a couple sentences about what’s going on. This gives me written documentation for administration purposes or a parent conference.

The key is, keep things simple. Don’t let student behaviors take away from the important learning in your classroom.

If you’re interested, here’s a freebie form you can use for having students think about their choices.

Thanks for reading! I'd love to hear what works for you in your classroom!
- Martha from "The Owl Spot"

Christmas in July Sale

Sunday, July 12, 2015

 Stop by Simone's Math Resources on July 13 and 14 for a great sale.

There will be four super deals listed in the featured items section. These bundles will be on sale for 50% off of their original value.

The rest of the store will be on sale for 20% off.

This is a great time to stock up for the upcoming school year.

How to Make a Teacher Desk Organizer

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Okay, so for those of you who read my blog, you know I really can't resist trying these really crafty teacher ideas.  I may be late to the party, but I saw a few of the desk organizers made out of the small gray plastic toolboxes and thought they would be awesome!  I am toying with ditching a traditional desk this year, and was wondering where I would store all that junk that gets lost in a desk.  Also, my home "office" is a kitchen nook, and you don't even want to know how junked up the counters and drawers get.  I thought this desk organizer might be the answer to my prayers.

How To
First, take a trip to the hardware store.  You need the toolkit and spray paint made for plastic.  Although the paint said no sanding, I still sanded just in case.  Couldn't hurt, right?

Tip:  If you are not a good painter or are new to spray painting, spray painting outside in the wind is
NOT a good idea.  Don't be so anxious to get it done that you have to buy twice the amount of paint!

I decided I wanted to paint my drawers as well, but that is completely not necessary.  It does make some of the drawers stick a bit, but with use the paint on the tracks will wear off.

Allow the paint to dry completely.  Again, patience.  Wait!

Once the paint dries, you just assemble it.  Since I painted my drawers, I Mod Podged my labels on.  If you leave the drawers clear, then you can attach the labels inside the drawers.

Once you have your labels on, you are all set.  Now you get to the fun part - cleaning up your clutter!  (Okay, for me, there is just this great sense of relief when I clear up a bunch of clutter that has been bugging me.  Anyone else?)  It is just amazing how much you can fit in these!  They do make other sizes of the toolboxes as well, but I
felt like this one would be enough.  If I taught primary, I might want more drawers - I don't use a lot of stickers and things on a regular basis.

If you like my labels, I made them with Cherry Workshop's Summer Backgrounds Stained Glass Digital Paper and KB3's AlphaBasicSans font.  Both can be found on TeachersPayTeachers.

What is your best classroom organization tip?