Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Change- Hopefully for the Better

I have been reflecting a lot on what I want the classroom environment to be like in the Spring when I student teach. Luckily, the nature of my program is such that we have a vested 'ownership', so to speak, of the classroom. My CT has told me that when I take over in January, I will be calling the shots. We differ in some of our philosophies about instruction, discipline, etc. There are some things that do not work for me in the room. Below are some of my thoughts on one of the behavior management techniques that my CT uses that do not mesh with my own philosophy: An explanation of how it works and how I want to use it differently when I am teaching.

What I See:
 Number System: When a student misbehaves, they are usually given one verbal warning. Any other misbehavior after that initial warning, students are given a number. The numbers range from 1-4.
o 1 = Not showing respect for themselves, others or property.
o 2 = Not following directions, which includes being off task and talking.
o 3 = Disruptive- out of seat, loud noises, bothering other students, etc.
o 4 = Not prepared for class, missing homework, books, notices to be returned, etc.

 There is no set amount of numbers that students get before a steeper consequence is implemented.
 At the beginning of the year, we would send out a behavior report every Friday informing parents on how their child behaved throughout the week. Explanations of what each “number” meant were included with the report and it had to be signed by a guardian and brought back on Monday.
 By about October, we were not sending out behavior reports any more
 The idea of getting a number really has no impact on student behavior. One of the consequences of getting multiple numbers throughout the day is making a phone call home for students to inform parents about their misbehaviors. This is done in front of the whole class during instructional time.
 I have had trouble with this system because my CT does not have a standard set of numbers that a student must get before a phone call is made. I also do not like that phone calls are made during instruction time and in front of the entire class. It embarrasses the student and kills time that could be spent teaching. I don’t feel like this method does anything to correct and resolve poor student behavior…it simply dishes out a what the teacher feels is a punishment, but what the students just chalk up to another part of the day.

What I Want to See:

Since this is not my own classroom, I understand that I can not just say “out with the old and in with the new”. I have given a lot of thought to how I can reconcile her inefficient system with my desire to correct behavior, not to punish, and to maintain student dignity and respect. Since students are already used to the number system, I would like to maintain it. I would like to establish a limit to the number of numbers that I will issue out before further contact is made with parents/guardians or administrators. This is how I see the number system in play: A student incessantly talks when lining up and walking in the hallway to specials, lunch and the restroom. The first time the student does not follow the expectation of no talking in the hallway, I will tell them that they have a number 2 because they did not follow the expectation of no talking. I will tell them that I know they can do better and expect them not to talk in the hallway. If this behavior continues, I will tell them that they have another number. I will also talk with this student about what unacceptable behaviors I have seen and ask them what we can do together to make sure that it does not happen again. For example, does she need to stand somewhere else in the line so she isn’t tempted to talk, if I give her a silent signal when she is talking, will that help her to check her behavior? After we have this discussion and agree to whatever steps we have talked about, hopefully the behaviors will be changed for the better. If after this second step, the student is still not following directions, they will receive a third number and either a phone call will be made by me sometime throughout the day to their guardians or a note will go home with the student explaining their behavior throughout the day, to be signed by guardians and brought back the next day.

This is not set in stone, so to speak. I don’t know if it should be after the third or 4th number that I call/write home. If I refuse to use instructional time to call parents and I along with my school administration are against sending students out of the classroom unless safety is in question, what will happen with the students who continue to misbehave after their 3rd number? Will I continue to use down time to conference with these students, only to spend even more time after school calling home or writing behavior reports? These are some of the kinks that I haven’t worked out yet but I’ve still got a little time to figure it out before I meet with my CT. I’m trying to flesh my thoughts out as much as possible so she understands my rationale for amending the current system.


  1. Something my old school did was have the students complete a form that makes them think about what they were doing and what they should have been doing and also reasons for their misbehavior. If you are with upper elementary students, they should be able to complete the write up and then if you send that home (maybe with a pre-written explanation to parents that you could staple on) that saves you the time of writing or calling home. We would copy their writing and save a copy in a discipline binder and send the other copy to the parents. I think it is a great idea for you to thoroughly think through your plan so that when you meet with your CT and discuss the changes you hope to make, you can be very clear about your ideas.

    Enjoy your holiday time off!


  2. Thanks for the idea, Katie! It definitely seems like it would save a lot of time on my part with calling and writing home. It seems like this would be completed after direct instruction or before/after lunch (making sure not to infringe upon their recess time) so it is not eating away at instructional time. I will flesh this out a little more but it definitely sounds like something that could work in my room. Thanks for the tip! Happy holidays to you too, Katie!

  3. Good luck! I was a Spanish/Eled double major back in the day. ;)