Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Check System

Recently I had a job for a second grade teacher I regularly work for.  She is SO professional that it is at the same time easy, and hard to work for her.  Easy because everything is prepared and ready to go, but hard because she works so hard and expects the same from her sub.  The kids in her class are great which is weird because the kids in the next room are horrid.  I saw a list of all the kids that have been in the good class all year and she has had many that have come in, and then left.  I think she diligently documents serious behavior problems and then somehow gets the worst of them removed and placed somewhere else.  Mostly next door. 

As far as discipline in the elementary grades is concerned, I have found that having my own system is easier and more effective than trying to learn and use the regular classroom teacher's method.  Mostly because I don't know the regular plan, and also because it's different for me who is only there one day compared to the person that is there every day.  This is what I do: when they come in the room in the morning I have a message on the board introducing myself, telling where their teacher is, and giving the broad strokes of what we will be doing that day.  I also outline my behavior plan.  It's the check system.  I have a clipboard with me that has my lesson plans, any notes I need, seating chart and class list.  If someone breaks the classroom rules (which are usually hanging up on a wall somewhere) they get a check next to their name on the class list. 

*The first check is a warning. 
*Second check is a time-out in the hall. 
*If they get a third check they go in the hall, write a note home to mom or dad telling why they got three checks and their plan for correcting their behavior.  That note goes home with them and gets signed and then brought back to school the next day to show the regular teacher.
*Fourth check is a call home.  Student calls mom or dad and explains that he/she got four checks, already spent time in the hall, already wrote a note home, and the next check they get will send them to the office for the rest of the day.
*Fifth check they go to the office for the rest of the day.

I don't give a check for every single thing I could conceivably give a check for, but I pass them out where I think they will be the most effective.  It eliminates any yelling, or full-class punishments which never work anyway.  The kids are talking during quiet work time?  I choose one kid and quietly say, "Brady, that's a check," and then magically the rest of the room quiets down.  Sorry, Brady.  But that keeps Brady from getting another check.  Still not quiet?  Choose another kid and give him a check.  Pretty soon you can hear a pin drop. 

I also tell them that when I see them do something especially good, I will give them a thank-you slip that they put into a bucket on the front table.  During transitions I pass out thank-you slips to kids who get ready the fastest.  If someone helps another kid with something, I give him/her a slip.  At the end of the day we have a drawing and three or four kids names are drawn and they get a piece of candy.  They love it. 

This system has worked really well for me for years and I have never had to send a kid to the office until that second grade class I was talking about above.  There was one kid in there who I'll call Rob who was having a TERRIBLE day.  He got his first check for pushing a girl out of line and taking her spot in the pencil sharpening line.  He got a second check for making his tablemate cry by telling him he was stupid because he couldn't figure out a math problem.  He got his third check for slapping a girl in the arm.  I could have given him a million other checks too for just generally being annoying.  He argued with me about what the teacher wanted them to do for science, and argued with me about anything else he could possibly think of. 

I sent him into the hall to write his note home and after about 15 minutes he came back in and sat at his spot.  I asked for his note and he stared blankly at me.  I said, "Did you write your note?"  He shook his head.  I said, "Go finish."  He shook his head.  I said, "You have three choices right now, 1) go back out and finish your note, 2)skip the note and wait in the hall for me to finish this (reading exercise) with the class and we'll just call mom right now, or 3) go to the office."  He wouldn't budge.  I waited about a minute, asked for his choice and he didn't move. He just stared at me. I said, "Office it is," and called the principle to come and get him.  She came in and tried to talk him out of his seat, but he wouldn't budge.  She then went and got an aide and they literally dragged him out like he was a protester being brought to jail by the police.  I was at the same time extremely frustrated and annoyed that the kid was being so impossible, and I was also sad because my system seemed to have failed, but what else was I supposed to do?  If this kid had his way, he would have been in charge and there would have been chaos.  What do you think? 

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