I don’t do clip charts. It’s shocking I know. I have worked with so many teachers who swear by their clip charts for classroom behavior management. If it works great in your classroom, that is awesome. You go girl!
However, I see some major problems in clip charts in special education classrooms. Let’s be totally honest here, most often the kids moving on that behavior chart are the ones who struggle with classroom behaviors. We can be super quick to have a student clip down for inappropriate classroom behavior. Some students will not move their clip the entire day. In a resource room setting, students need much more frequent feedback on classroom behaviors.
In this post, we will look at
- Why classroom management is important
- Techniques for classroom management that really work
- My classroom behavior management system
Why Classroom Management is Important
If you have ever stepped foot in a classroom in the first few weeks of school, you know exactly why classroom management is important. There are literally hundreds of different behaviors and routines that students do throughout a day. How do they get off the bus? Which way do they walk in the hallway? How do they enter your classroom? Where do they put their backpack? The behaviors are endless.
Good teachers teach these behaviors explicitly. Recently, I was complaining to an older wiser mom friend about how my 2-year-old and 4-year-old were super wiggly and whiny at a restaurant. She politely asked how often I take them to restaurants, which is not very often. Then, she reminded me that we cannot expect our children to do things naturally that we have not helped train them to do. She is so smart and so right.
Our students are the same way. We can’t expect all students to behave exactly how we want them to on the first day of school. Some students naturally will and that is just awesome. Many students will need to be shown, again and again. Some students will also need a little extra reinforcement to help shape these classroom behaviors.
Are you ready to hear about my techniques for classroom management? Over the years, I have refined my behavior system and am in love with it! Let’s dive in.
My Classroom Behavior System
Disclaimer time: This is the behavior system that has worked well in my small group setting. I understand that in a full classroom, this would be harder to implement. I have used this system for nine years in the small group setting with great success.
Now, let’s get into the details. My classroom behavior system is based on earning money. At the beginning of the year, we talk about how teaching is my job and being a student is their job. I explain that I will be paying them for doing their job each day. We create a list of all the different behaviors we should be showing in the classroom. This can easily be tied into your building wide system. For example, this year my building is using bucket filling as a school-wide theme. So, we are calling our money bucket bucks and listed all bucket filling behaviors.
How I use Desk Pets in my Resource Room Classroom
First, I grabbed these Ikea bins my second year of teaching. They are amazing! They stack nicely and are super durable. Mine have lasted 8 years so far with no issues. They are totally worth the investment. Each student gets their own bin. When I switched positions in 2021 to a single grade level with a smaller caseload, I got fancy and used my Cricut to label each student’s bin.
Next, I grabbed this set of play money on amazon. One year I used themed money that I printed that went with our school-wide plan. Our mascot was the lion so we had PRIDE where each letter was a different character trait. I created PRIDE bucks to use in my classroom. This worked fine, but now I prefer using this play money. This system helps students practice money skills while also reinforcing positive behaviors.
Using Token Economy to Reinforce Positive Classroom Behaviors
Throughout teaching I leave dollars on top of their bins. Then, at the end of the lesson, I give about two minutes to trade money with all students. This allows me to create a little break in between different lessons. All students pull all of their money out of their bin and we work together to count it and determine if they can trade (five ones for a five, two fives for a ten, etc.). For the first few weeks of school, students will need support in counting and deciding if they have a trade. Soon, students will be doing those calculations on their own! I love this system because it teaches students real money skills!
Cash out time!
What do we do with the money they earn? I’m glad you asked! This can be totally different based on whatever your students are into. The last few years, my students have really liked desk pets. I grab these mini animal erasers and display them behind my desk. I also grab this pack of food erasers to be snacks for their pets. At the end of each week, students can use their money to go shopping. Pets cost $20 and snacks cost $10. We call Friday, “Cash Out Day.” We only do this once a week but if you needed to do it more frequently you could.
Once a student buys a pet or a snack, they are allowed to display it on their bin during lessons. We talk about different rules for pets. Pets stay on top of the bins I am teaching. If you are playing with your pet, you get one reminder and then your pet has to go to my pet training camp behind my desk. You cannot trade pets with friends. If you pull apart your pet and break it, there are no refunds. So far my students have done a pretty great job following our rules.
Pets stay in our classroom until they complete the set. To have a complete set, students need a pet, a snack, and a habitat. Work Less Play More has these adorable habitats that students can color, cut and paste together. We love these because students can decorate them themselves! When they have all three parts of a set and are ready to buy their next pet, I put the set in a plastic bag and send it home. The whole set costs $40 so it typically takes students two or three weeks to earn enough money. This is a great way to practice delayed gratification!
Tweek Techniques for Classroom Management System
If you don’t think this exact plan would work for you, let’s talk about how you could tweek it to fit your needs. If you have students who need more frequent reinforcement, you could provide daily opportunities for spending their money. It does not have to be for tangible prizes like the desk pets. Students could use their money to be first in line, buy technology time, or any other preferred break activity.
Do you think the money system is too complicated? You could use punch cards, sticker charts, or whatever system works for you! Personally, I love this money system because it allows us to embed math practice into our daily routines. Students are constantly adding up their money. Here are some comments I have heard:
- “Five and three ones makes eight dollars.”
- “I have eighteen dollars so only two more until twenty.”
- “Five and five makes ten. Ten and ten makes twenty.”
- “I have fourteen dollars. There are two days left this week so I need to earn three dollars both days to get to twenty.”
These kids may really surprise you with how quickly they can learn money skills when they are so motivated! I hope these classroom management approaches will work well for you!
If you are a new teacher, be sure to check out 5 Classroom Setup tips for Resource Room Teachers.