I see a ton of teachers wondering what they can be doing during their summer break to prep for the upcoming year. What do I say to that? If you don’t do anything else before the school year starts, I encourage you to at least develop behavior management plans for your students. (and your sanity!) 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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But, I definitely hope you do way more than just develop behavior management plans. You need to make sure to decide how you are going to set up and organize your classroom.
You’ll also want to make sure that you develop plans for daily classroom routines so you are prepared when those little munchkins come skipping (or crying) into your classroom in August.
A great job to put in your “teacher toolbox” is the daily helper and team captain. These are two MUSTS when it comes to my classroom! I also put together a free resource for you to use the daily helper and team captain in your classroom.
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 telling kids they are doing a good job and calling their name out loud when they are not following the rules.
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
I believe in developing a plan for different behavior management plans. This doesn’t mean I 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.
When I was in grad school (and probably undergrad, too) my amazing professor taught us about the 3 behavior management plans we needed in our classroom. We then had to do this same thing and plan out our management plans before day one even started. The ideas below are from her originally, but with my added twist to it!
You can also listen to this video in podcast form by heading here!
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 unless I say something to my students like “I have 6 marbles here that you can earn during this lesson, but if you talk without raising your hand, I can take a marble away.” This way the expectations are set and if they don’t meet them, they see the consequence of their action.
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.
Small Group Plan
This is a 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.
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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.
Other individual management plans involve tickets that can be traded in for rewards and 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.
Individual Plan for Challenging Students
Some years you will have some extra challenging kids 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 students.
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.
Another way to foster positive behavior within the classroom is to incorporate class meetings.
I would recommend the book “Positive Discipline In the Classroom.” They break down step by step on 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.
Don’t fret if you don’t have all these in place at the beginning of the year or even the middle of the year. It is never to late to implement these plans into your classroom.
Join me in the Mid Year Classroom Tune Up Course to work through how to implement these plans in the middle of the school year + so much more!
Until next time,