Ditch the Clip Chart?

Teaching Firsties > Classroom Management > Ditch the Clip Chart?

Building Relationships as an Alternative Classroom Management Approach

Over the past twenty years of my career, I’ve completely overhauled my classroom management strategies.  Especially finding alternatives for the behavior chart.

My timeline looks like this:

  • First year: I used a green, yellow, and red stoplight where clips moved on red stayed there the whole day. (Shudder… sorry kiddos…)
  • Ten years: I used a similar system, but allowed students to move back to a positive color if they improved their behavior. Students marked their color on a calendar in their folder for accountability and conversations with their parents.
  • Fifteen years: I revamped the chart, added more colors, with tiers called “Outstanding”, “Role-Model”, “Think About it”, and “Parent Contact”. I also didn’t expect every child to conform to the clip chart. I realized that if it didn’t work for certain students, it wasn’t effective to use it. Parents were confused about the different colors and tiers.
  • Nineteen years: I kept the chart, but ditched the behavior calendar, for the simple reason that I was overwhelmed that year and it dropped off the to-do list.
  • Twenty years: I took the negative tiers off the chart, and noticed a HUGE improvement.

And the present? I’m going to ditch the whole chart. I’ve wanted to get rid of it for a number of years now, but needed that extra push to pitch it. Recently, I saw a twitter post of a teacher behavior chart, complete with colors and tiers.

Jon LeFevre Twitter

"Oh my gosh"

So I polled my Facebook and Instagram friends. My parent friends who weighed in liked the clip chart because their children were held accountable and were able to have conversations about their behavior at home with their families. However, there was an overwhelming amount of teachers who either do not use clip charts or would like another behavior chart alternative.

Justin Minkel in an article on edweek.com gives three reasons he doesn’t use a clip chart. 1) Damaging a positive relationship with your student by publicly calling them out in front of their peers, 2) Using his time for better things rather than playing catch up after the behavior, and most importantly, 3) Focusing on why the behavior is happening, rather than what the behavior is. (https://www.edweek.org/tm/articles/2017/09/06/death-to-the-behavior-chart-3-reasons.html)

What resonates the most with me is that a clip chart works temporarily. When I thought back on my past students, this was 100% accurate. Moving their clip down helped for the moment and allowed me to continue teaching, but it didn’t help in the long run. The same students moved their clip down the next day.

I’m used to the clip chart. It’s comfortable. I’m honestly scared to use something else. But if I use the same thing, I’ll get the same results. So I’m ditching the chart.

Instead, I’m going to keep building relationships with my kiddos. I’m going to teach them the difference between frustrated and disappointed. I’m going to do a lot of meditation and social-emotional teaching. I imagine this year might be a full of trial and error with my students who would have moved their clip often, but I don’t see it as harder work, just a different approach.

For some classroom management strategies about behavior and other topics, check out my Pinterest board with Classroom Management ideas.

Stay tuned, teacher friends!

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Teaching Firsties with Mrs Hull 2019
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