Let’s talk Behavior {again}

by becky on January 16, 2012

If you have been following me for a while, then you may have read this post about my never-ending search for a meaningful behavior plan. I know that each plan only is as successful as the the students who are/aren’t buying into it, but I have to say, I’m liking how things are going this year.

Originally, I had thought that I’d reward my students weekly if they earned enough initials. Although they LOVED this, I was quickly running out of ideas and they were quickly getting greedy. I was hearing comments like, “Oh, not this one again.” {Say what????} I would have loved if ANY of my teachers growing up had done something like this. Since I was beginning to feel like the rewards were looked at as a right instead of a privilege, I decided to switch things up.

**Side Note** To any new teachers out there, the BEST lesson I learned about classroom management came my 4th year of teaching. I had just come off of a HORRIBLE year due to several building and district administration decisions that left me wondering if I still wanted to be a teacher. Honestly, I was looking into going back to school to do something/anything else besides teaching. The year left me with zero confidence in myself as a teacher and I continually had nightmares where my principal would come into my room, see that the “plan” was ridiculous and instead of helping, he’d turn around and walk away. Now, of course that didn’t happen in real life, but obviously I was holding in some HUGE insecurities and feelings of being on my own.

After starting my 4th year with these feelings practically taking over me, I talked to a friend of mine who I knew from college. She wasn’t a teacher (in fact she is a therapist, lol) and I was telling her about how I know I can run a classroom, but I couldn’t bring myself to continue things that way I had. She looked at me point blank and said, “Last I checked, it was your classroom. Do what works for you.” I remember looking at her like, “What?, I can do that?” I had felt I had to fit into some mold that other teachers had created and even though I didn’t like it, I felt like it was the right thing to do. Her big hang up with people in general is that they keep doing the same thing over and over again but expecting things to change. (btw that’s the definition of “crazy”.) Her suggestion was to stop (today) and start over (tomorrow). It didn’t matter that I was 4 weeks into the school year. Why beat a dead horse?

So, that is JUST what I did. That year, instead of focusing solely on the positive (sorry, PBIS), I implemented Actions/Consequences. It seemed harsh, but that year my students were over the top chatty and distractible. I was constantly stopping instruction to have students flip their cards only to have them continue the unwanted behavior. I created a behavior contract that I had both the parents and their son/daughter sign so NO ONE didn’t understand what I expected. I explained that once they can show me they can handle themselves using the action/consequence policy, I’d revisit our original behavior plan.

I never did go back to my card system that year, because as soon as I set the boundaries and I showed I meant it, the students thrived. I was able to teach, they were behaving/learning, and I was slowly getting my confidence back as an educator. I ended up having a great year, and remember my friend’s lesson every day I walk into my classroom.

Okay, that was more of a Side novel rather than a Side Note but, my point is this… Just remember that unless you can see the benefit of something, don’t feel like you HAVE to continue to do it. Make a change for the better and your students will thank you for it. It’s okay to stop and start over because sometimes you have to do it wrong to realize the right way to do it. Does that make sense?

Alright, back to my Behavior Books… So, I decided to tweak the actual book themselves to reflect a section primarily for behavior initials and a section for homework initials. That way if parents were unsure why their son/daughter didn’t earn my initial, the were able to narrow down a reason by looking at the book. Here is a picture of my new example:

Once I felt better about the actual data collection, then I looked at how I was rewarding the students. With 4th graders, sometimes it’s better to let them pick what they want by having them work towards a goal. After visiting my neighbor and former mentee’s classroom, We’ll call her “D”, I noticed she had begun using the behavior book system as well, (flattered). But, I realized that her reward system was WAY better than mine. She had her students help her come up with reward ideas and she attached a certain number of behavior book pages to it as a payment. I decided (after I asked if she minded I borrow her idea) that this was a better way of doing things. D uses whole pages, where I decided that they would earn rewards with a certain certain amount of actual initials. Here is the form I came up with:

So, if one of my students wants to write on the whiteboard for one day during silent reading, they could have to cash in 10 initials. And, by cashing in, I go through and X out the first 10 initials in their book. This way they can always be earning and feel like they are working towards a bigger reward. So far it’s been working well!

If you want a copy of my updated behavior book cover and inserts, click here to download from GoogleDocs.

If you want a copy of my Behavior Book Reward posters, click here to download from GoogleDocs. You will get the poster from above and a blank version for your own classroom use.

All I ask is that if you have beenΒ  using this in your classroom, let me know how it’s working. Have you seen success? What are some changes you’ve made? I’d love to hear your ideas!

Happy Birthday, MLK Jr. πŸ™‚



{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

katie January 16, 2012 at 8:42 pm

Wow do I get what you are saying! This is my year that I’m frustrated like you described. I was doing so many positives and my kids were getting so greedy and actually complaining about the rewards they got. So I started over after Christmas with the token system that I found on Angela Watson’s website (http://thecornerstoneforteachers.com/free-resources/behavior-management/token-system). Well, it’s not perfect but it is better than before! Gosh why does behavior have to be so difficult! If I could just teach…


Kate January 17, 2012 at 1:34 am

Thanks for sharing how you track behavior in your class! I am always looking for new ideas! I love your rewards too πŸ™‚


Jennifer January 17, 2012 at 2:06 am

Awesome post! Behavior is always tricky!
First Grade Blue SKies


Dawn January 18, 2012 at 6:28 am

Yes! It is YOUR classroom.

My student teacher needs more structure for her behavior plan. Her “teacher voice” hasn’t kicked in yet, so the kids don’t respond to her the same way that they do to me. I will share this idea with her and keep you posted if she uses a version of it.

On a side note…I just purchased Print Shop and can’t wait to try creating new things! Thanks for the inspiration!


Michelle January 19, 2012 at 1:55 am

What a great way to track their behaviour! Do you ever take away initials for bad behaviour? Do you have any consequences? I think I might do something similar to this idea- thank you for the inspiration. If I decide to use this I will keep you updated on how it is going!


becky February 26, 2012 at 5:43 pm

Hi Michelle! When I passed out the books 1st quarter we discussed how to “earn” the initial. If they break any of the classroom expecatations, then they do NOT get my initial for the day. It has worked well, and I’m surprised by how many are honest at the end of the day and remind me if they didn’t earn their initials.


Jennifer KC2STL January 19, 2012 at 2:15 am

I’ve been thinking about this since I read it! Where I am at, the current thought has moved to children “do the best they know how”. Positive and negative reinforcements aren’t to be used. This drives me crazy! I am all for children being intrinsically motivated. However, I don’t know any adults who work for free. Of course, knowledge is a reward in itself, but as testing stakes grow higher and higher and curriculum grows drier and drier, a little reward goes a long way….Some days I think rather than being a teacher, they would rather us be fun-suckers.


AriesandHilary January 22, 2012 at 8:03 pm

I am so happy to have come across your blog through pinterest! I’m currently a substitute teacher (hoping to teach FT this upcoming year), love spots and have a dalmatian too! Thank you for sharing such great tips, I know I’ll always be coming back here πŸ™‚



Dawn March 11, 2012 at 6:36 pm

We’ve been using this in our classroom for 3 weeks now. LOVE IT! One way we’ve modified it is by adding the reason a student hasn’t earned initials for that section. For example, for homework, we expect students to have any and all homework ready at the start of the school day, as well as the student planner signed by a parent the previous night. If the student had homework, but the planner wasn’t signed, we write, “Planner” in the box instead of initials. If it was simply one piece of homework missing, we’ll write that. If a student doesn’t earn the behavior initials, we mark the cause in that box. This helps all of us (teachers, student, and parents) see the patterns emerging.

LOVE it!! Thanks again for sharing!!


Madeline March 31, 2012 at 12:40 pm

Have you seen classdojo.com? It’s a free point keeping program for kiddos! It keeps track of positive and negative points- you can come up with the categories- and also creates behavior reports for each student and the whole class. It graphs their positive and negative behavior and breaks both down by categories (out of chair, off task, helping others, participation, etc.) You can even use your smartphone for a remote point keeper! I don’t know if it’d help you at all or not, but it’s pretty amazing!


becky April 3, 2012 at 1:26 am

Wow! No, I haven’t heard of that site. I’m for sure going to look into it for next year! THANKS for the suggestion! πŸ™‚


Beth April 7, 2012 at 1:07 pm

I love the idea of having rewards that don’t cost the teacher anything. I did a similar reward system a couple of years ago and am thinking of trying it again this year since we are getting very “cozy” and talkative with one another as the year gets closer to an end. I remember the favorite reward students wanted was to sit at my desk!

Do you assign a different amount of points to earn the rewards? Another thing I did was to only cash in rewards on the last day of the month, that way it was even easier on me. If more than one student wanted the same reward, then we worked it out so they could receive it on different days.


Becky April 10, 2012 at 12:53 am

Hi Beth,
Yes, I do assign different values for the different rewards. That way I’m not buying them dessert everyday. πŸ™‚ I start out with rewards for 15 initials and have gone up to 100. Hope this helps! πŸ™‚


SB September 18, 2012 at 1:01 am

How do you keep track of student’s behavior throughout the day so you know who earned the behavior intitial at the end of the day? Checklist? Quick notes? I’m trying your idea in my 4th grade classroom right now. Thanks!

ps–your blog and puppy are so cute—a play bow from my “furbaby” to yours!


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