When I was in undergrad, I was SO excited about my course with Mrs. Duhon. This was the class in which we would learn alllll about how to make our classroom “work.” AND we’d get to be in classrooms, too! I was so eager to get to the part about learning how to set up my classroom but we, first, spent a lot of time working out our behavior management plans.
This is key to setting up a classroom. When kids know their boundaries and that they will be rewarded for following the expectations a healthy classroom environment is born.
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When it comes to new teachers (really, any teachers) getting ready for the school year, it is imperative that we focus on behavior management plans.
But, I definitely hope you do way more than just develop those plans. You also need to:
- decide how you are going to set up and organize your classroom.
- develop your daily classroom routines that will keep your classroom running day in and day out
- implement a daily helper and team captain. (Grab the free download here)
When I talked with Linda Kardamis, founder of and host of the podcast Teach 4 the Heart, I shared five classroom organization ideas that help you get organized. All of those things play into classroom management and actually help you manage behavior!
Why You Need a Management Plan
A behavior management plan is more than handing out consequences.
A healthy behavior management plan involves mostly positive rewards and incentives paired with an understanding of the expectations.
When those expectations are not followed, a consequence is given. We must make sure our students know what their boundaries are and that there are consequences if they cross them.
(Obviously, consequences aren’t for every.single.time. a kid makes a mistake, they are kids! But you know when a student is being defiant versus making a genuine mistake.)
I recorded a whole podcast on how to handle consequences in the elementary classroom and it has some great ideas of ways to redirect behavior and how to dole out consequences when necessary.
Types of Behavior Management Plans
Inside The Organized Teacher Framework™, I teach the four different kinds of behavior management plans every teacher needs in their toolbox.
This doesn’t mean you use all of them at the same time (or even during the school year at all.) But it is important to have a plan in place before the school year starts so that when instances arise, you are prepared.
And, no matter which of the behavior management plans you use, it’s essential you have buy-in from teachers, staff, students, and parents.
When I was in grad school (and probably undergrad, too) my amazing professor (Mrs. Duhon, now Dr. Duhon!) taught us about the 3 behavior management plans we needed in our classroom. The ideas below are adapted from what I learned from her.
1. A Whole Group Plan
This is a behavior management plan that rewards the whole group for good decisions, staying on task, and following directions. We must teach our kids how to work as a team and to help each other. When kids know they are accountable for the whole group’s reward, there is more ownership in their behavior.
My favorite whole group management system is a marble jar. The class can earn multiple marbles at a time for choices that they are making. I add extra lines on the marble jar so that they can get rewards throughout the process.
It’s important to keep this POSITIVE so I try to refrain from removing marbles. (Although, I most definitely have and there are times to do this. Just try to keep them few and far between.)
You can also do things like a paper link chain, a brownie points pan, or adding letters to a “secret word” to foster engagement in positive choices.
2. A Small Group Plan
This is a behavior management plan developed to hold small groups or teams accountable. The first team to get their table picked up quietly and quickly earns a point.
The most important point I want to make is that teams do not compete against each other but instead compete against themselves.
When I use this management plan, I am always intentional about finding something worth rewarding from even the WORST table!
It is also important that once a team reaches the “goal amount” of points starts over, not the entire class.
Because this is a small group management plan, other teams should not be held accountable or lose their rewards because another team has already met their goal.
3. An Individual Plan
An individual behavior management plan is a positive reward system for when the student does something worth being recognized for.
To me, this is the most important management plan to establish because it is a very visual way to reward kids for positive choices and remind other students that meeting expectations allow you to earn rewards.
I have always used a Classroom Economic System as my individual behavior management plan.
You can read about why and how I implemented a Classroom Economy with my students here.
You can also check out information about the Classroom Economic System I created and purchase your copy here.
Other individual management plans involve tickets that can be traded in for rewards or class dojo.
The most important part of rewarding students individually is to be consistent and to verbally praise them for their choice and give them their tangible reward (money, ticket, point, etc.)
Also, not EVERY time a kid raises their hand needs to be rewarded. At the beginning of the year, YES! Do it ALLLLLL day long. But as the year progresses it is okay to back off a bit and allow kids the opportunity to make wise choices even if they aren’t receiving a reward.
4. Individual Plan for Challenging Behaviors
Some years you will have some extra challenging behaviors where the simple “great job, friend, here is your sticker” won’t work.
In those situations, you need to develop a more in-depth plan for them. This is usually something I plan out all the details for when I actually need it. But the rough draft always involves a very scheduled out reward system
These students need to be praised and rewarded FREQUENTLY! Sometimes multiple times a day. You can read more about the plans I developed for my challenging students this past year in my post on management tips for challenging student behaviors.
One thing I have always wanted to try and keep forgetting about in the hustle and bustle of the school year is the mystery student. I have had friends use this and I think it is an AMAZING idea.
Each morning one student’s stick is placed in the mystery student jar, at the end of the day if that student has made good choices they will be rewarded. If not, then their name is put back into the jar of sticks for a chance another day.
5. Class Meetings
While this not be a “behavior management plan,” it is most certainly a way of fostering positive behavior within the classroom.
I recommend the book “Positive Discipline In the Classroom.”
They break down step-by-step how to begin class meetings. Some of the projects are too much for younger grades (at least in my opinion) and have to be modified, but the messages behind them are important.
I conduct weekly class meetings. I try to do 2-3 a week in addition to a team builder or class builder on the other days. It is important to me that my students feel connected to the other members in their class and by sharing their highs and lows, feelings, and struggles connection is formed and trust is built.
My friends Courtney and Tiffany from Mustard Seed Teaching write about The Fellowship of the Classroom and how class meetings are worked into that. They even show a video of how they work.
When it comes to a new year (school year or calendar year), it is important to ensure you have solid behavior management plans in place. Make sure you have:
- a whole group plan
- a small group plan
- an individual plan
- a student plan
- and a plan for classa meetings
Learn how to implement your management plans in this post. (What use are they if you don’t implement them properly?)
I shared quite a few links with you in this post. Here is a recap of them!
- How to Set Up a Classroom
- Daily Routines for Students to Help with Organization
- Daily Helper and Team Captain- a free download
- 5 Classroom Organization Tips
- Classroom Economic and Behavior Management Resource
- How to Implement a Classroom Economy
- The Organized Teacher Framework™
- How to Implement Behavior Management Plans
- Downloadable list of 20 Classroom Management Strategies and Techniques
Until next time,