George Lucas Educational Foundation

Behavior Management?

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When classroom management is raised, I have always known how fortunate I was to be teaching university engineering students: qualified students choosing to take my classes. My classroom management was about pedagogy and materials that provide the environment and encouragement for my students to learn effectively - a joy to do for the 30 years prior to retirement.

In conversations with many teachers as I expand my outreach to K-12 following retirement, I realize even more how fortunate I was to be able to ignore the BEHAVIORAL MANAGEMENT aspect of classroom management. I strongly believe this aspect to be the largest detriment to effective learning in all too many classrooms AND most likely the cause of teacher burnout in all too many instances.

I'd really like to hear about BH. For so many classrooms, think how just improving BH will improve learning. May I suggest this to be a major difference when comparing countries?

This post was created by a member of Edutopia's community. If you have your own #eduawesome tips, strategies, and ideas for improving education, share them with us.

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Ms. Bea's picture
Ms. Bea

Rebecca - agreed! Another resource that teaches emotional intelligence is called WiseTalk and can be found at It's an activity that children play with grown-ups. My daughters will often bring WiseTalk over to me when they want to 'play.' The child picks a token with a letter on it which directs them to a little book organized alphabetically. Each letter has a feeling associated with it. On each page, you'll find prompts to share your stories about the feeling and how each of you have experienced them in your lives. It is a great opportunity to share and connect with your people and develop one's emotional intelligence. :)

Jennie's picture

As a first year teacher, I noticed that few, if any, of my students consistently turned in their homework. This fact did not lead me to conclude that my were unmotivated or unconcerned about their work. Many of them were shocked when they learned that they were failing and quite upset by this realization. It lead me to consider what I could to make them more aware of cause and effect relationship between their actions and grades, so I created a behavior chart. This homework chart transformed my student's behavior. Before the homework chart, fewer than 5% of my students were consistently turning in their homework. Within days of hanging the poster, 80% of my students were turning in homework and, within a week, the majority of my students were getting "A"s on the assignments they were turning in. These "A"s continued to be earned despite of the fact that my homework assignments became increasingly difficult. Since then, I have come across studies, mostly on edutopia, that may explain my student's positive response to the poster. One explanation came from an article written by neurologist Dr. Judy Willis, which " Makes the Case for the Video Game Model as a Learning Tool". In it, she explains that "the human brain, much like that of most mammals, has hardwired physiological responses that had survival value at some point in evolutionary progression." According to Willis' article, one reason my homework chart was so successful was because it heightened their awareness of their achievement, and enabled them to clearly recognize the actions that had led to it. Unlike before, my students began to take actions that would result in future opportunities to be successful. According to Dr. Willis, "[w]hen the brain receives feedback that this progress has been made, it reinforces the networks used to succeed. Through a feedback system, that neuronal circuit becomes stronger and more durable. In other words, memory of the mental or physical response used to achieve the dopamine reward is reinforced."

As you may have already figured, I was exhausted by the amount of work it took to update and maintain this chart. This summer, however, I got the chance to try out a new application called Class Dojo. With just one click of my mouse or touch from a smartphone, I can instantly award (or take away) points based on student's behavior or participation; it shows the point and specific behavior for which it was awarded/taken away as well as maintains record gives students and parents access to a profile page that is updated in real-time to display how the student is doing in class, and what points she earned in class. You get to choose what actions will earn or loose points (e.g., for helping other students, showing great creativity, doing homework, etc...). During class, Class Dojo's reward system provides instant visual notifications for students to see ('Well done Josh! +1 for helping others!'). These "game-like" notifications make students aware of their achievement, recognize the correct choices they made, and reinforce their understanding of the behaviors/skills necessary to succeed in class. Better yet, the app keeps track of those points for me and provides me with analytics of my student's behavior. I definitely recommend checking out Class Dojo. Its free and has been a transformative force in my classroom.

Nicole Sutton's picture

I was very interested in your post about Class Dojo. Is this an app that is available for download? Android or Mac? I would love to use this for my classroom!

Jennie's picture

Hey Nicole!
Class Dojo is AWESOME! Its a brand new technology and most teachers haven't even heard of it yet! (Lucky us, huh?!) I got access to it because I help test out and shape developing educational technologies. If you like Class Dojo and are interested in trying out other educational technologies of tomorrow, you should go here:( cause I'm looking for other teachers to join the team,
But I digress, in answer to your question, YES! Class Dojo runs on BOTH android and mac.

You can sign up for free (Yay free!) at Class Dojo's website:
ClassDojo can run on an interactive whiteboard, a computer with internet access, a smartphone, tablet or iPod touch. Also, if you are interested in being involved with more cutting edge ed. tech. go to this website and fill out the survey. They're looking for teachers to give feedback on developing technologies

amy v's picture
amy v
Elementary Teacher, 3rd Grade, Atlanta, GA

I just signed up for this two days ago! It was the easiest signup EVER! The class lists can be copied and pasted from a spreadsheet. The positive and negative notes are easy to adapt to your own classroom rules. It will make a large difference for my students to see how they are doing on a daily basis. And this allows me to track progress quickly from my fingertips!!

I look forward to seeing how it gets better- like different avatars for each student. Love the monster dudes- too cute!

Nicole Feledy's picture
Nicole Feledy
English teacher and literacy coach, Sydney, Australia

While daily reports, rules and plans may be useful in managing student behavior, I have found the best strategy is building connections. Students who trust their teacher and know that their teacher values them as an individual, generally engage in less disruptive behavior. Even when they do 'slip up', a student who has faith in the teacher student relationship usually only requires a gentle reminder of respectful behavior to self correct. But, and this is a big but, building these connections takes time and patience. I have also found it requires showing a little of my own vulnerability. It does not however, involve being their 'friend' (at least not in the traditional sense of the word).

The teenagers in my classroom love being given the opportunity to express themselves, they still seek external affimations from peers and can get carried away in the moment and yet, even though they strive to express independence, they still want to know they are safe within the walls. These are the walls of their peer group, but they are also the walls of their classroom, school and wider community. I guess, like anyone, students like to 'know where they stand'.

This is why I like to teach with an open door (physically and metaphorically). The students know the walls are there to provide stability, however they also know they have choice. I hope that in keeping the door open the students can see I trust them and respect their right to choose. This fuels their sense of responsibility.

Jessica's picture
Building Confidence in Students, One Child at a Time

As per my suggestion, Behavioral learning has a very significant role in the classroom management. It acts like a road map for the students and helps in enhancing their determination and skill to reach out to their desired learning destination.Primary focus is to build communication with the students.

Thank you once again.

Angela's picture
4th grade , Michigan

I'm interested in this Class Dojo? What is it exactly. I agree behavior management takes precious time away from student learning. I am dealing with a student this year that has a very difficult time blurting out and talking over other students. I am trying to be patient and help this student realize how unfair it is to always want to be center stage. I'm using a daily points system with this student at the moment, but I'm open to suggestions. I am seeing slow results with the points system.

Sam Dunham's picture
Sam Dunham
High School Social Studies Student Teacher

Behavior is the first thing any student learns in a classroom. Where to sit, when to talk, etc. are all behavior and are often learned as much from the classroom culture as they are from the teacher directly.

Michelle Shear Brown's picture

This is my first year as a high school teacher. My mistake at the beginning of the year was presuming that my seniors knew how to behave in a classroom. Any tips on what I can do to bring them back around, or is it too late? I have good rapport with my kids, but most of them have raging cases of senioritis and don't care about doing what they're supposed to do.

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