by Kelly Quabeck
Looking for a positive way to promote good classroom behavior with my first-graders, I opted to try two concrete techniques: one involving straws and the other, pennies.
The Straw That Broke the Teacher’s Back
Each child in my classroom starts with five straws for the day. They can then earn straws or lose straws as they day progresses, depending on their behavior. Simple, but effective!
The best part of the straw technique is that the students really feel like they can turn their day around and make it better by earning back straws. Unlike most discipline approaches that only remove privileges or enact consequences, this approach allows the student to make choices to negatively and positively impact their day. As a little extra positive reinforcement, I let my students earn a star pencil once they reach 10 straws for the day.
A Penny Saved is a Penny Earned
In my class, the students are seated in groups. As another positive discipline approach–and also a means to promote cooperative learning–each group earns pennies for good behavior. The group can also lose pennies for poor choices, and the students in each group encourage one another to make good decisions during the day. Every Friday, we count the pennies (by twos, of course :-), and the group with the most pennies gets a trip to the treasure box.
These two techniques keep my students aware of their behavior and accountable for their choices–and, most importantly–they make our classroom a positive environment in which to learn.
Kelly Quabeck holds a master’s degree in education from University of Phoenix. She currently teachers first grade at Russom Elementary School in Georgia, where she enjoys meeting the needs of her students and watching them reach their full potential.