Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Classroom Management: MEGA Chart

Hi friends. Welcome back.

Page visits, comments, and the like are at a bit of a slump this month. It probably has something to do with the fact that I really have been slack on the upkeep of this site throughout August.

Alas, here is something that I hope will get you commenting! Way back in June a linky party started up over at Miss Kindergarten's. You probably know this already because you have posted your fabulous ideas there already. Old news, I know. The New news is this one that I am about to share.

NEW? Well, it's new for me, it's new for my class, and it's new for the teachers that are at my school adopting it into their teaching. It's like a ladder system that many of you have shared but I call it my MEGA Chart.
Everybody's alright ;)

It goes like this:

Before the MEGA Chart, I was extremely dissappointed to keep reading comments back from other teachers that students were off-task, calling out, playing around, "had no ears" (direct quote, no offence to people who have no ears), and there was even a comment that some of the boys were pulling each other's pants down! C'mon, REALLY? Yeah...and these had gotten gradually worse over the past weeks. Something had to be done.
My MEGA Chart is an individual-based consequence and reward system that is SUPER adaptable into different environments. I use it with 11-13 year olds and it has made an awesome improvement so far. If you have kids that go away to another teacher for another subject (or another teacher comes into your room to teach them) make sure you read the black part at the end so I don't BORE everyone else with it now. I need to keep them all as long as I can...

Way to go, guys!

What I do differently is this. The MEGA Chart is not an immediate response to actions. It's summative. I know a lot of teachers use it as a way to instantly correct behaviour and there is nothing wrong with that but I wanted moving up and down on this chart to be a pretty big deal. Instead, it is reactive to an overall impression that would sum up their behaviour.

While using their manners is very nice (and for some of my students it can be a real accomplishment), it won't usually get them up to Great. Expected behaviour does not move their name. Positive behaviour moves their name UP. Negative behaviour moves them down. Each tier has it's own consequence. If you are in an awesome school that has their students divided into houses/teams, the buy-in can be pretty easy. Just using your own class rewards will work, too. Magnificent at the end of the day = 5 pts, Excellent = 3 pts, Great = 2 pts, Alright = 1 pt.

Yep. Even if they don't move at all, they get a point. If they move down, you can have your own consequences but mine are a graduation through school-wide consequences. I don't like to keep kids in at lunch but sometimes, a moment away from their peers to have a conversation with me is all it takes to get them back on track. (As I explained what would happen at each Strike, I told them "You don't even want to KNOW what Strike 4 means...". They got the idea that it would be pretty terrible and left it at that.)

With my kids that go to other teachers, getting those teachers to record the "Stars" and those who misbehave in a little notebook is all I need to make sure the behaviour transfers to other classes and playing in the yard. when they return, I make a deal about those who have moved up and quietly move others down. A beautiful side effect is that it shows the students that the teachers are all on the same page and supportive of each other and the consequences are consistent across the subjects.  

The results:
It has been two days and this MEGA Chart is creating a bit of a stir. Students have been (mostly) on task, (generally) following instructions, and (as a whole) WAY easier to teach. This isn't just MY opinion. the teachers that take my class have noticed a change. Some students that were historically difficult have come back to class excited that they were written down as a star! That is success!

The sceptic will say "it's a honeymoon period. Give it a couple weeks" and they are right. What will happen in a few weeks when they get over the system is yet to be determined but I believe a system can last as long as the teacher's motivation to maintain it. I like to think I'm pretty motivated.

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