Step 3: Interrupt

It's super important to teach kids your values (not because they don't come in with values of their own, but because it's important for them to understand why your classroom is structured as it is). Okay so you're putting values on the table right? You can only enact those values when your classroom is structured around those values. Let me illustrate with a story:

One of my key values my first year teaching was: Hold Tight (which meant, if someone was having a hard time - behaviorally, socially or otherwise, we'd treat them like family and help them out). Sometimes, detention was the way I helped out my students having behavioral problems (I'll talk in a later post about what my detention looked like - it was not writing lines, it was youth leadership development. If you're creating problem in my classroom you're brave and have leadership skills - you just need to own and redirect them). So, I needed to be clear about what would earn a detention and give kids opportunities to interrupt their own problematic behavior. 

So here's how my progressive discipline system worked (with thanks to soccer for inspiration)

  1. Yellow-card --> 1 minute after class check in 
  2. 2nd Yellow card --> 10 minute lunch detention 
  3. Red card --> Full lunch detention / phone call home
  4. Referral --> Immediate office referral (only used once all year when one student punched another in the face because he wasn't handing him the stapler fast enough). 

Additionally: If a student was acting like a Diva, they could be told to sit in the Diva Chair at the front of the classroom until I felt like sending them back to their group. 

Here were the incentives my kiddos had, (because we need to celebrate our kids too)

  1. Team and individual swag points awarded to each student for hard work, focus and helping others
  2. Swag levels of all students displayed on the board
  3. Team (table group) with the highest points won candy and filmed a mini documentary in which they talked about what made them successful during the past week. 
  4. Class points: If a class got to 100 points they could have a freestyle friday (which, if earned would allow them to spend the last 20 minutes of class having a party, watching a movie or playing a game. This happened 8 or so times all year). 

So this system had to be explicitly taught and modeled for students. I handed a kid who I could tell had been in trouble (mostly because of the way other teachers talked about him) and said, let's say Tyler* here gets a yellow card. What should he do? 

Replies varied around: not make a big deal of it and go back to work. 

Awesome - I had the whole class model this then told them they'd already mastered how to keep a small problem, a small problem. 

Somebody act out how to turn a small problem into a huge one (Tyler's hand shoots up - I have him, yesssss!) 

He acts out how to escalate real quick. The kids laugh, we all smile. Then I have Tyler show me how to keep a small problem a small problem. He does so to uproarious applause. I think to myself (if I have them this hype about my discipline system, pre-algebra should be a breeze!)