This morning, a friend, who I revere, posted a link for her teacher friends (she is also a teacher) on an alternative to behavior clip charts. I clicked on the link and was reminded why even systems that reward good behavior over negative still miss the mark.
Know what I hate about these systems? The public review of transgressions at the end. The one size fits all “they’ll police each other” mentality (which is complete nonsense because they don’t know how to control their own behavior a lot of the time.). And especially the complete lack of grace. One or two children are enough to spoil it for the whole bunch, leading to ridicule and exclusion by the other children. I’ve never seen the consistently quiet kids “save” the day with their behavior or earn the occasional do-over for other students having a harder day managing their behavior.
By 2nd grade, Munchkin had completely accepted that she would never earn gold tickets, smiley faces, top of the ruler clip placement, or whatever other thing they came up with and she gave up. I watched her internalize the message that there must be something wrong with her, when, in reality, she was just too emotionally immature to manage her intellect. Her voracious need to know everything meant she was always talking, moving, and daydreaming – the exact opposite of the level 0 culture in elementary school.
Now that she is in middle school, she has blossomed. Her schedule has been tailored with all advanced classes to challenge her, and by virtue of it being middle school, she is not expected to be still and silent all the time. And no behavior charts, clip/ruler, or stars/smilies. We have not had a single behavior problem this year and her grades have soared- even doing competitive cheer. And, she’s older and more able to manage herself. Maybe if less time had been spent obsessing on making all children fit into a rigid behavior model, the first six years of Munchkin’s education wouldn’t have been so heartbreakingly hard to watch her go through.
I know teachers have the mostly impossible task of corralling a classroom full of live wires and I do not envy the task. As a parent who watched my child broken down, not built up (opposite of a teacher’s calling) by rigid behavior expectations, I urge you to correct one on one, to remember that emotional and intellectual maturity do not grow at the same pace, and that sometimes kids just need a do-over.
Here is an article that seems to get it.