It’s that time of year. Weeks before state mandated testing. A couple months shy of summer. Behavior starts sliding down hill.
Nothing seems to work anymore… except for rewards. Incentives. Prizes.
I have picked a few students that I’m determined to help, and recently one in particular. He knows that he is “hard to handle” and he seems to enjoy living up to the reputation.
He feeds off of attention. He loves getting a laugh from the class. At any cost.
I really don’t think his goal in the morning is to wake up and say, “I’m going to make Mrs. Rogers’ lesson really difficult to teach today.”
I don’t see that kid as “out to get me.” What I do see is desperation. Seeking attention. Seeking acceptance, even if it means being the class clown when he is actually reading above grade level.
I’m still determined to reach this one particular student. I’ve tried reasoning with him in the hallway. Writing encouraging words when I pass back his work. Quietly correcting him.
Have any of those things worked this year?
In fact, the behavior has escalated to the point where I can’t get through one sentence without an impulsive comment being blurted out.
It may be April, but I’m not done trying with this kid. There’s still time.
I thought of all the behaviors that I want him to improve. Instead of me correcting him, I wanted him to be able to be conscious of his own behavior, and correct it himself.
So I turned it into a game. I call it “Behavior Bingo.”
I created a grid and filled it in with all the behaviors I want him to do, wording them positively.
So instead of, “stop tipping back in your chair, you’re going to fall” I worded it in a positive way, “keep chair flat on floor the whole class.”
Once he marks off 5 in a row, he can choose a prize. He could earn a prize every day if he wanted to.
I cut it down and taped it in inside his English notebook. No other students know about it. I actually told him it only counts if no one knows why you’re doing it.
He was surprised one day to find it on the next page of his journal. I didn’t say anything to him until after he read over it.
I asked, “Are you up for the challenge?”
He smacked his chair legs down to the ground and drew an X over that square.
And it was fun watching him study the squares and look up with eyes scanning across the room. I knew he was thinking about what he could cross off next.
He didn’t earn it the first day, since he hadn’t started until half way through class.
Day two, he walked in and started “earning” squares to mark off. All on his own. I never said a word.
By the end of class, he awkwardly went over to a classmate and said, “I’m taking your journal for you.” It was a sweet moment.
I casually dropped a few Jolly Ranchers in his hand as he left the class.
No one noticed.
I had a good day.
He had a good day.
I think we are both looking forward to more good days.
Here’s the print out I made for him. I just made it with Google Docs. If he gets to restart with a new board, I think I’ll change the squares to be more challenging. This is so easy to personalize for students.