Yellow tags

ImageWhen I took over as the teacher for Room 102 just before Christmas, this behavior chart was on the wall. It is linked to the Behavior Plan for the whole school, providing a series of warnings for a student. After three yellow tags go up for a student, they need to take a break in the Peace Corner and write or draw a reflection sheet naming the bad choice and suggesting alternative behavior that would be more appropriate for the classroom. If poor behavior persists after that, we ask the student to take a break in a buddy classroom. If things go awry with the Buddy Teacher, she calls the office for support. The Buddy Classroom is designed to diffuse the tension between teacher and student and is usually the farthest it gets.

My students have been through a great deal of chaos and transition this year. After their classroom teacher had to unexpectedly leave her position in September, they had a few different substitutes. Each substitute did great work, but the reality is no two teachers are alike, so there was always change. Since second graders thrive on routine, this sort of change was obviously difficult.

Which brings me back to the behavior chart. I use the chart sparingly, and give lots of verbal reminders before a tag goes up. Still, tags went up every day. EVERY. DAY. It was disheartening. It was exhausting.

One day last week, we were having a good day. I felt well rested. There seemed to be a lot of work getting done. Near the end of the day, after we had just started to get packed up, one student called my attention to the empty chart. “Mrs. L. A., no one got a yellow tag today.” The joy and excitement in his voice was inspiring. I called everyone over to view the empty chart. I pulled out my phone to snap a picture. I showed them all the photo on my phone. I made a big deal about it, and so did they.

The chart has not seen another empty day since, but I have put a significantly lower number of tags up. And today, as one of students (who struggles most with behavior) handed me her agenda so I could write the daily note to her Mom, she said, “I must have had a good day, I have no yellow.” I smiled big at her, and said, “I’m writing about your good day right now!”

I don’t love this chart, and I am trying to focus more on noticing good behavior, but some good things have happened because of it. And I feel like we can build from here.


3 thoughts on “Yellow tags

  1. As a college student aspiring to be a second grade teacher this post is inspiring. I have always wondered, if ever in that situation, how to be an affective teacher after the students have been through so much. We have learned many things in classes on behavior and how to reward students and how to punish. The behavior chart is always a huge staple in everyone’s classroom. I think the way you got excited about no yellow tags and showed the students how excited you were was brilliant. Students look to their teacher as a model, and the better the model the better the attitude of the students. This story was great to read and taught me you can turn a sticky situation around to an awesome situation.

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