Here is the problem. Behavior management. Behavior management is a common struggle for new teachers and a common topic to come up in a teacher job interview.
My main problem is the largest of the three classes I teach. The 19 students are all very high functioning. AND LOUD. I don’t have disruptive outbursts or any of the extreme behaviors you hear horror stories about in college and that fellow Reality 101 blogger Kaylie experienced recently. I just have students that like to talk and talk loudly.
In academic terms, I would define the problem behaviors as “off-task” and “talking out.” In classroom terms, I just call it “chaos.” Just about the time I can get one group quiet, another group starts up. When I move to quiet them, the first group is back at it.
I want a behavior management system that uses positive reinforcement for behavior and that also has negative consequences for negative behaviors. In the school-wide behavior referral system, principals give out punishments ranging from lunch detention, after-school detention, in-school suspension (ISS), and out of school suspension (OSS).
The system works for major disruptive behaviors, but for in-class behavior management you don’t want to spend your whole day writing behavior referrals every time your students talk without permission. Also, if you want to be firm on behavior management and follow the school policy with referrals, you run the risk of being labeled as “the new teacher who can’t control any of his students.”
I’ve mentioned before that I love the CEC Tool of the Week. The Tool on acceptable rewards/reinforcers was a good start in my hunt for a better system and got me thinking about rewards I could offer my students.
My question now is how can the students earn these rewards? Should students earn reinforcers on a weekly basis, daily basis or monthly basis? Should I make “prices” for the reinforcers that the students have to earn points towards (token economy system)? My only stipulation for a behavior system is no stickers. Any system that requires stickers will be rejected. My classmates during my undergraduate years can attest to the fact that I have a thing against stickers in my classroom. So stickers aside, I’m open to any and all suggestions.
Since I teach job skills, should I make a paycheck simulation type of system where students get a “paycheck” based on behavior? Do I have the students keep track of their own points earned or do I keep track of it (MORE PAPERWORK!!)? Should I use a tangible reinforcer like tokens or less tangible reinforcers like points on a sheet?
Reality 101 is supposed to be about sharing successes and failures of the first years of teaching. So here is one of the low points of my teaching. I am completely without suggestions or tips for future teachers in this area.
I asked an experienced teacher that I respect to observe me teach and give feedback. I even stooped so low as to explore Pinterest (GASP!) for suggestions on behavior management at the high school level and was told “No results match this search.” When Pinterest doesn’t have a suggestion for you, you know you are desperate.
I would love to hear examples of behavior management systems that work from teachers who have taught at the high school level or students who have done internships at the high school level. Or perhaps you have never taught in high school, but you have ideas or suggestions for me. I’m all ears.