Updated: Jun 17, 2019
Classroom discipline and management had always been something that came natural for me and I was blessed to have wonderful role models during student teaching and the early years to see classroom management ideas that worked, but it was until 5 years into my teaching that one stuffed animal changed my classroom management for good!
First, there are obviously two huge factors that will help you find the classroom management and discipline plan that works for you... your personality and your student’s personality. What works perfectly for one group may fail horribly with another, BUT I will tell you that this plan worked for 3 years of students WITHOUT FAIL! So what is it?
Well, when I moved to Panama and began teaching in an international school, each primary classroom had an animal on their door that represented that classroom. The principals and other teachers would call the students by their classroom animal to dismiss them, get their attention, etc. This concept was all new to me as I was used to calling students “friends” or something like that but I soon started to realize the power behind this animal and the students connection they quickly made in becoming the Octopi class. We spent time learning all about the Octopus, what made them unique, what made them special and began to embrace this idea that we are special and unique too like Octopi. Then came Mr. Octopus... GAME CHANGER.
One of the parents had found a stuffed animal octopus at the local pharmacy here and thought it would be cute to give to me since I was the teacher of the Octopus class. (That was the only downfall... parents then starting buying me TONS of octopus stuff... haha!)
Well, I decided that no longer were we going to do clip charts or prizes we were going to use this stuffed animal octopus as our behavior system. The students named him Mr. Octopus and he QUICKLY became the most prized possession of the class.
How the plan worked was throughout the day I would look for someone that was working hard, being kind, having a good attitude, etc. and they would become the Outstanding Octopus for the day! That meant they would get to take Mr. Octopus home and write in the special journal all about their adventures. Let me tell you these kids took him everywhere... even Disney! They would put pictures in the journal and it also got them practicing their writing skills... double win! Then, the next day at school they were my special helper so they got to do the calendar, be the line leader, etc. They absolutely ADORED him and would do anything to get to be the Outstanding Octopus of the day so they could take him home for the night.
On a side note this also solved my problem of never changing my job board! Instead of so many students having different jobs, all jobs were given to the Outstanding Octopus! This was another incentive for the students to buy into the program.
I eventually started using Class DOJO (https://www.classdojo.com/) and whoever had the most points at the end of the day would be the Outstanding Octopus. I loved this because I stopped buying prizes and dealing with tickets. It was a simple but powerful way for students to make good choices. I know some of you are thinking a stuffed animal going home every night with the students must carry so many germs... yes, it does! I would wash it pretty often or parents would wash it as well. I also bought some new ones from the store and would change them out if it seemed necessary.
What classroom behavior strategies are your favorite?
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