Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Praise and sanctions

Happy New Year to all!

In August I blogged about some behaviour cards that I had made (see original post here).  I just wanted to update and let you know about how I have adapted them to suit a particularly challenging, quite large, Year 8 bottom set of mainly boys, to whom I am trying to teach French!

In trying to incorporate as much enjoyment as possible, given that many of them do not rate French as one of their priority subjects, I was finding it very hard to strike a balance between fun and structure. Although the majority was enjoying the lessons, there was a hardcore of pupils who was taking advantage and spoiling it for the rest of the class.  I decided to stop the teaching and get back to basics.  I told them how I wasn't happy with how things were progressing and that we needed to re-establish some ground rules.  We went through the rules, after I had rewritten them to make them crystal clear and spent some time working on them.  We discussed sanctions and rewards and it was made perfectly clear what would happen if they messed about and also if they tried hard.  This is what I told them:

The behaviour cards I blogged about before are key to the whole thing.  They are very straight forward and simple.  I also made laminated cards with all their names on.  After a verbal warning, anyone whose behaviour continues to get on my nerves has their name stuck onto the yellow card. So far, this is as far as I have had to go since our 'new start', which I think is testament to how this system has worked.  Names on a yellow card can be removed if the behaviour that got them there improves.  Continued poor behaviour leads to the name being removed from yellow and added to red.  Red is dead, i.e., a withdrawal from lesson and/or a detention if required.  This is accompanied by parents being informed.  On the positive side, if a child has shown that s/he has tried really hard in the lesson, their name is stuck to the green card.  At the end of the lesson, everybody on a green card gets a merit and parents are informed (I use +ClassDojo for doing the class register and for messaging parents).  In addition, one name is selected at random to receive a scratch card (see here for blogpost on scratch cards).  At the same time, I have a teampoints competition, which is ongoing.

I am so happy with how the whole thing is working.  The class as a whole is much more focussed; the conscientious are still conscientious and are getting rewarded; the silly ones are now kept in line and are dealt with if needed, and rewarded like the rest as necessary.  Nobody wants to go on the yellow card, let alone the red; there is real excitement when it is time for the scratch card draw and pupils are genuinely interested in what prizes have been won; parents are informed of successes, which they like and of course, they would also be informed if their child was in need of a kick up the bum.  The whole thing fits into the school merit/detention system and we are still having fun!  It took a lot of effort to set up, but I absolutely recommend taking the time to repaint any boundaries that have faded. It's not too late and is worth every second.

Many thanks to @teachertoolkit, who gave me the idea of the behaviour cards in the first place!

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