Monday, August 4, 2014

Classroom Management Tips


Using Positive Reinforcement to Manage your Class 

I have been teaching for ten years now, and I have to say, it took me a while to realize that it couldn’t be sheer luck that year after year I keep getting blessed with a “good class”... I would even dare to say, the “best class ever... in the history of classes!”.  

Seriously, each and every year teachers will comment on how lucky I am to have such a well behaved group. Each year, substitute teachers come by my room to let me know just how much they love covering my class because my students are always so respectful and responsible. 

After years of being "lucky", I realized that there was something that I was doing that just seemed to work like magic! It had nothing to do with luck at all.

It’s my raffle system! 

WHO doesn't love being entered into a raffle? The anticipation of winning something...anything... gets folks of ANY age excited! That's why this strategy works so well..with any grade!

I have shared this strategy with many of my teacher friends but noticed that some were having more success than others.  I came to the conclusion that knowing how to implement the system is a crucial element... because as B.F Skinner said:


For those of you who are new to this idea, here's an explanation of the raffle system in a nutshell: Every time you catch your students following expectations and behaving appropriately, you give them a raffle. The raffle is put into a raffle box and at the end of the day, there is a draw.  The selected students win a prize! You will be surprised that the prize actually doesn't have to be that big - it's all about pairing the prize with praise and words of affirmation. 

The best part? Setting up the raffles can be as low prep as you want it to be.  Simply cut or tear paper into strips that are long enough for students to write their name on and use any old container as a raffle box. That's it. Done!

But, I like taking it one step further by integrating character educationbuilding positive self talk, as well as vocabulary building into my raffles. 

Ok so now for the HOW:

1. Do not give any attention to negative behaviors.
2. Instead, focus your attention on the kids who are doing the right thing and praise the heck out of them.
3. Be generous with raffles when your goal is to change a specific behavior
4. Be unpredictable.
5. Pair the prize with praise.  This is MORE important than the actual prize itself.

The main purpose of a raffle system is to change disruptive behaviors into behaviors you want to see more of. 


1. DO NOT GIVE ANY ATTENTION TO NEGATIVE BEHAVIORS.  


Don’t even acknowledge these behaviors for a second. By giving these kids attention for misbehaving, guess what's going to happen? More misbehaving! In my class, I want to teach my students that they will ONLY get my attention for positive behaviors (such as being respectful, responsible, inclusive, caring, etc.).  As soon as I see someone behaving in a way that I’m not pleased with I immediately find someone who IS behaving the way I expect...and I reinforce that child right away.  I do not make mention of the misbehaving child. It seems counter intuitive but it works! 

2. PRAISE THE HECK OUT OF THE KIDS WHO ARE DOING THE RIGHT THING!:

It’s so important to pair the idea of each raffle with lots of positive words. Your students need to build an association between this raffle and your praise.  By doing this you are also helping them expand their vocabulary (ie. if you are mindful to use a variety of adjectives to describe how fantastic they are!).
  
Instantly, you will see everyone wanting to change their behavior so that they can win a raffle too.  It causes a ripple effect. Students quickly realize that the only way to get the attention they desire is to demonstrate positive behaviors.

But this can ONLY work if you keep focusing on the positive behaviors. This is, at times, easier said then done, hence my reason for stressing this point so much.

3. BE GENEROUS WITH RAFFLES WHEN YOUR GOAL IS TO CHANGE A SPECIFIC BEHAVIOR 

In the beginning of the school year I have my work cut out for me.  Kids will test what they can get away with so it is important to implement this system right away.  (But don’t stress if it’s the middle of the year and you’re reading this - better late than never I say!)

Last school year, I remember my chatty lil monkeys would take for. ev. er. to trickle into the classroom after recess.  I get it, recess is exciting, there’s so much fun to be had, and every kid wants it to linger for as long as possible.  But I don't have time for time wasters and this is a behavior I like to nip in the bud right away.

This is how ‘being generous’ works:
(Let’s take the classic “taking forever to come into class after recess scenario”)

First, I let my students know what my expectation is and that I will be handing out raffles to the first 5 kids who come into class as soon as the bell rings.

On day one, I’ll give out a bunch (ie. 3 or more) of raffles to the first 5 students to come in from recess promptly. Now the 6th kid in might feel a bit bummed - but guess what - tomorrow, he’s going to be even quicker. The seventh or eighth kid to enter the class is also thinking ‘hey I was pretty close too... that darn chatterbox beside me... tomorrow I’m going to ignore her so I can get a bunch of raffles too”. For the first little while I will give out 3,4 or 5 raffles to the first several kids. Gradually, I'll reduce it.

Before you know it, the whole class is trickling in around the same time.  At this point I don’t need to hand out so many raffles anymore. Heck, I might not even give out raffles at all for this behavior once it has been changed.  

On occassion, I will hand out raffles here and there, just to keep the positive behaviors continuing.


4. BE UNPREDICTABLE!



Usually, I give my kiddos a heads up as to how many raffles I will be giving out and for what behavior... but sometimes I will make it completely spontaneous. This just keeps them on their toes. For instance, let's say homework was assigned over the weekend and only two students handed it in. Even though I didn’t announce that students would receive raffles for completing homework, I will give these two superstars a bunch of raffles (3 or more) just to make a point! It rewards the kids who are responsible and shows the rest of the class that they just never know when they might get rewarded!  

It might seem like homework has nothing to do with classroom management, but it does. If I don't have to waste precious class time chasing up notes, homework, trip money etc. this results in a smooth flowing morning (the time when I get students to hand this stuff in)! A smooth flowing morning sets the tone for the rest of the day!

5. THE PRIZE ISN’T AS IMPORTANT AS YOU THINK


It’s really not necessary to go out and buy a whole bunch of goodies from the store. In fact I think the smaller the prize the better. This is because the prize shouldn’t be the focus. It’s your constant praise, attention and encouragement that your students value (and need) the most!

6. BE SPECIFIC:

When I hand out the raffles I try to remember to be very specific about the behavior I am reinforcing.  
Up until last year, I used to get kids to write their names on regular old paper that I had cut into rectangles. This worked fine to a degree, but I found that when I asked the raffle winners to recall what they won the raffle for, sometimes they would forget, or it would take them a while to remember. I needed to tweak my system...and so I did!  

My new system can be used for: character education, story writing, building self esteembuilding a positive classroom climate, and developing positive self-talk in children...all while building vocabulary too

This is just a sneak peak at what's inside my prize pack. (Update: this giveaway is now over). Click HERE if you would like to learn more about it. 



If you want a chance at winning My Raffle System, enter the contest below!!


ENTER THE CONTEST HERE:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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25 comments:

  1. I don't have a FB account, but I wanted to tell you that I think your management system rocks!!! I really like the cards that you have created! I especially like the way you have incorporated character education and vocabulary into your system!!
    scheinbere@hotmail.com
    Sincerely,
    Emily

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  2. You are so right! They don't care what the prize is! They just want to win! I imagined you to be one of the positive teachers!
    Pam
    Rockin Resources

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  3. Your blog name is incredible. Seriously. And I do love the raffle system.

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  4. Thank you for the tips. I'm always looking for ways to help with behavior.

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  5. Great system! Thanks for sharing.

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  6. Even though I don't do a behavior raffle system, I find that my kids love it when they earn a prize (for math bingo or something). The most popular are ones I make up and copy like sit by a friend for a day or wear slippers in class, etc. Do you use a lot of free/made 'em myself prizes too?

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  7. I love the raffle system - it's so simple and easy! I usually use store bought tickets, but yours are so much cuter AND more meaningful!

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  8. Love this!! I could get link to bloglovin to work but wld love to follow you!

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    1. Thanks Elie! I'll try to get that bloglovin link to work. Thank you so much for letting me know!

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  9. I agree with the kids not caring so much about the end prize as much as getting the praise and tickets. I do this as a special behavior management towards the end of the year and they definitely care more about getting tickets than whatever random prizes I come up with. :)

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  10. I am excited to try to incorporate this in my classroom!

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    1. Yay! Please let me know how it goes... and if you have any questions as you begin to implement the system, let me know ... I'd be happy to help!

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  11. I am definitely going to try this. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. My pleasure Emily! Let me know how it goes with your class! I hope this helps you to enjoy a relaxing school year!

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  12. I love raffle systems and sometimes even the prize of sitting at teacher's desk for 10 minutes to do their work is enough as a prize!!

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  13. Great tips--I've done a raffle type system before, but I think I needed to be better about ignoring the inappropriate behaviors. That's definitely the hardest for me!

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  14. You have some great tips! I totally need to work on tip #1. :)

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  15. I love this Idea! I have a behavior management in place that works for about 85-90% of my students. I am hoping this plan will allow me to use it with all of my students.

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  16. FANTASTIC idea! I am going to give it a go - going to be hard to ignore "those" kids but I will do by best!

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  17. We have tickets that are given out school wide for PBIS. Instead of different tickets for the difference expectations- we have one ticket when we circle the expectation (we have 4 main ones). Just an idea to simplify! They really do work so well!

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  18. That's a great idea Kristen, thanks for sharing! Also, I'm curious to know which 4 you focus on... I'd love to know.

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