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Behavior Management Tips from a Teacher Who’s Been There

It's the end of the year…. you are busy teaching, testing and filling out mountains of endless paperwork and your kids are completely losing interest. How can we blame them, they have worked hard all year and they are super excited for summer (aren't we all). So the big ticket question is:

How do we (still) manage behavior in a way that is positive and supports learning?

Sweet Treats

Yep, I said it, candy. I'm not talking about giving your kids a sugar high just for turning a paper. I'm talking strategic positive reinforcement with ONE skittle, M&M or gummy bear. Y'all, this kids will work crazy hard for just ONE skittle! It's unbelievable!

Now, you can effectively do this in a number of ways. My favorite is to quietly walk around the room during reading or math stations and place one skittle or gummy bear on the desks of the students who are doing EXACTLY what they are supposed to. I think the key here is no leniency. The students need to know that they are ONLY getting rewarded if they are being a model student!

Show and Tell

One of my favorite behavior management tools this year has been Class Dojo. I let my students accumulate their points and use them to buy things. Here's a quick rundown of my store:

15 points- Pick a Go Noodle Video
15 points- Use a Pen for a Day
20 points- Teacher's Treasure Chest
30 points- Principal's Treasure Chest
30 points- 15 min of Computer Time
50 points- Show and Tell

Let me tell you, the kids' favorite is BY FAR show and tell. Some of them turn into hoarders and wait and wait and wait until they have enough points to do show and tell. I hadn't really planned this, but my first few show and tellers were girls who brought stuffed animals. They asked me if they could keep their animals on their desk and I told them yes, that was fine as long as it wasn't a distraction (I mean, they did save up 50 points). Well, it turns out the getting to keep they animal on their desk was the best part. After that, everyone wanted to do it!

(Disclaimer: I am pretty strict about the “no distractions” rule, at the first sign of trouble it gets put away.)

Class Rewards

Another great management tool for any time of year, but especially at the end, is to have your class work towards a class prize! There are literally hundreds of ideas out there, but here are a few that worked really well in my classroom:

Mystery Picture

This is super easy and free! Write a word and cut it apart (below we used “candy cane”). Start with all letters turned backwards. The class has to work to turn all of the cards around to spell out their reward. You can reward them with treats or do something free like extra recess or a dance party!

Smart Cookies

For this one I used an actual cookie sheet for an added visual effect, but you could definitely do this without buying anything special! It's the same concept as before. The class is working to get all of the cookies on the cookie sheet to earn their reward. I had eight cookies total, but you could adjust it to fit your needs!

Mystery Puzzle

Okay, I saved the best for last. I bought this 24 piece puzzle for $1 at the Dollar Tree. I put a magnet on the back of each piece. Students worked to get all pieces of the puzzle put together to earn their reward. Since this was a 24 piece puzzle, it took them 2-3 weeks to earn their reward. I knew it would take a while, so I let the students pick their reward as an added incentive…. and that's how I ended up with Sparkles, the class fish! ????

Behavior Management During Stations

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Kristen Sullins

Kristen Sullins

I am a current Elementary Librarian and
Enrichment Teacher, mother of two, follower of Christ and Texas native. In my own classroom, I love to save time by finding unique ways to integrate writing, social studies and science into all parts of my day. I also love all things organization!