A Flexible Tool for a Productive Classroom
Good classroom management is the foundation of successfully managing behavior. Manage behavior, and you can focus on instruction. Students with disabilities often struggle with behavior, often because they don't always understand the "hidden curriculum" often communicated with raised eyebrows.
A simpler color chart may be appropriate for resource room or self contained classroom. For an inclusion class or a class with more than ten children, this larger chart, introduced by Rick Morris (New Management) offers a more distinctive range of options, from outstanding to parent conference. It helps a teacher differentiate according to the needs of students. It is an effective and easy strategy to implement to create positive behavior support.
An advantage of this system is that everyone begins on the green, ready to learn. Everyone starts at the same level, and has the opportunity to move up, as well as moving down. Rather than having everyone start at "the top," as a color card program does, everyone starts in the middle. Color card programs usually insist that once a student loses a card, they don't get it back.
Another advantage is that red is on the top rather than on the bottom. Too often students with disabilities, who may find conforming difficult, end up "in the red."
How It Works
You create the chart with construction paper, overlapping the paper in the back before you mount the titles and laminate the chart. The bands from the top are:
- Red: Outstanding
- Orange: Great Job
- Yellow: Good Day
- Green: Ready to Learn. Everyone starts here.
- Blue: Think about it.
- Purple: Teacher's Choice
- Pink: Parent Contact.
Establish a classroom rubric that establishes:
- Rules for how you move down. What behaviors are unacceptable and move you from one level to another? Don't make these too rigid. It's a good idea to give students a warning. You might even move a child's clip to your sleeve, and put it back if they have followed the rules to the next transition.
- The kinds of behavior or character qualities that will move your clip up. Being polite to classmates? Taking responsibility for and accident? Turning in high quality work?
- Consequences of moving down the scale. There should be a list of teacher's choices: Loss of access to the computer? Loss of recess? Be sure these choices stay at school, and they shouldn't include extra work or busy work, like writing sentences. Teacher's choice is also not the time to send a note home.
- Benefits for reaching outstanding: three outstandings give a student a homework pass? A single outstanding qualifies a student for a preferred job, like office messenger?
Create the clothespins. Children who are second grade or older should probably create their own: it gives them ownership in the chart. Those of you who like everything to always be tidy, remember that you want the clip to be your students, and not yours. You want them to own their own behavior, not blame you.
Place, or have students place, their clothespins on the green.
During the day, move students' clothespins when they break a rule or exhibit exemplary behavior: i.e. "Karen, you left your seat during instruction without permission. I'm moving your pin down." "Andrew, I really like how you kept everyone working in your group at the math center. For outstanding leadership, I'm moving your pin up."
Administer consequences or benefits in a timely way, so it continues to be a learning experience. Do not use loss of a party on another day, or a access to a field trip in another week as a consequence.
Notes from the Field
Teachers who employ this system like the fact it gives students an opportunity to move up. In other leveled systems, once a child moves down, they're out.
Teachers also like the fact that this system recognizes students who do a good job. It means that as you teach, you are naming the behaviors that you like.
Rick Morris offers a free printable brochure for the Clip Color Chart at his site. Check it out!>