Welcome to Paula's Primary Classroom! This blog is where I share ideas for teaching and learning with families, friends and other early childhood educators. Please don't use the photos or text of this blog without permission, but please do use any ideas you find useful. Thank you for stopping by!

Monday, February 13, 2017

The Ten Cent Behavior Management Miracle

If you're looking at this post, the chances are high that you have that student in your class right now.  It seems that every class has at least one, the child who challenges your skills as an educator, demands your attention constantly, and often leaves you feeling exhausted, frustrated, and wondering if you're in the right profession.  You feel like you need a miracle!

This simple behavior management trick has been that miracle for me many times over, so I thought I'd share it with you today.  Best of all, all you need is ten pennies and two pockets, and you even get to keep those!

This technique works for students who are craving your attention, and who'll do just about anything to get it.  The key, of course, is to give them positive attention when they are doing something right, because even that student wants your praise and your love - they need it much more than the sweethearts who you already adore.  This is where your ten pennies come in!

At the start of the day, put your pennies (or any other small, inconspicuous token) in a pocket.  Your job, every day, is to find and praise ten positive things about your target student.  You may have to dig deep to find those ten things at first, things like, "John is in line," (not facing forward, but hey, he's there) or "Mary has her pencil ready" (yes, she's fidgeting with it, but it's in her hand so she could be ready to write).  Each time you praise your target student, you discretely move one penny to a different pocket.  The physical presence of those pennies serves as a constant remind to you to look for the positive, and if it's 2pm and there are still 8 pennies in your pocket, you had better really start looking!

I have to admit, when I first heard about this technique 20+ years ago, I was skeptical.  I wasn't sure that my target student even did 10 positive things each day, and truth be told, there were days when I didn't manage to find 10 things.  On those days we both went home exhausted, and we probably both felt like failures.  Slowly, by showing her I noticed her and cared about her, we were able to build a better relationship.  I know this miracle technique worked, because when we set up a behavior management plan with her family, the big "prize" she wanted to earn was to spend more time with me.  She worked really hard, and began to earn the chance to stay late after school occasionally to help me in our classroom.  I've used it with many other students, and it has always made a difference.

Is this ten cent method going to transform your classroom overnight?  No.  Can it make you a better teacher, one who helps all your students to feel successful?  Yes, and that is miracle enough!