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Thursday, September 3, 2015

Shout Out Board

I know some of you have already started your school year, and some of you are gearing up for the classroom this coming week.  Either way, I had a small idea that turned into a big deal for my kiddos and I wanted to share this idea with you!

Yes, it's just a message board, but before you dismiss it, let me tell you how this board can help you with behavior management.  First off, I tried to keep an eye out for kids doing something out of their way, or just a random nice act for someone else.  It could be something they do for another classmate, or stopping to let an adult walk through our line when there is traffic in the hallways, anything!

 The great thing is, no matter who was chosen that day/week, it showed that even small acts of kindness meant a lot to someone.  This went along with the community/family idea I was trying to foster in my classroom.  They might not think that bending over to help another student pick up a couple pencils is a big deal, but I made it a big deal.  Not by immediately going over, flailing my hands in the air, yelling "WOW, you're just the best person ever!," but I'd give them a sincere "thank you so much for helping her out!"  Then, the next morning (or maybe even when they got back from a related arts/specials, the board would have a message like this on it.

Why not just make a huge deal out of it when it happens?  Well, when I was little, I was really shy (hard for anyone to believe now, I'm sure).  I didn't like someone making a big fuss verbally over something that I did (good or bad).  I was the kid who ran down the hall away from her 4th birthday party because everyone stared at me and started singing, "Happy Birthday."  I didn't want attention, but as a child, I of course loved to be praised.

I have found that this method is a great way to show them what a big difference they can make with just small, every day, kind actions.  How can this help classroom behavior?  Well, obviously you have the overall effect of students feeling good about doing good deeds around the classroom.  However, I really felt it made a huge difference to the kids that don't hear a lot of praise.  

You know that student I'm talking about.  The one that everyone asks about with a face like they know your day must have already gone to you-know-where in a hand basket just simply because the child is in your classroom?  Yup, that one.  Sometimes it bothered me when people would do this because they seemed to only see the negatives of the kid.  However, with this system, I sometimes would even point out the board to another teacher or administrator who came to the door.  Then, they sometimes would call the child over and congratulate them for a job well done.

Overall, I felt this was a great way to say thank you for those little things that we sometimes overlook because of all of the busy-ness of the classroom.  Now, you might wonder, "Wow, did you do this everyday?  I don't think I can keep up with it!"  Honestly, it depends on your room.  Go with the flow and do what you feel works for your kiddos.  Sometimes I left a message up for an entire week.  Sometimes, I changed it two days later because someone else did something outstanding that I felt needed recognition.  Or sometimes, I even wrote a "Thank You" to the entire class if they got a compliment from another teacher, or were well behaved for a sub.  Make it work for YOU!

Let's talk materials for a second...
You can use the corner of your whiteboard, bulletin board, whatever you like!  I have found that the small black dry-erase board from Expo is great and easy to clean, but I don't use the neon Expo markers.  They may have changed, but they never quite had that "pop" that I was looking for on the black background.  The markers are "chalk markers" that I picked up at Hobby Lobby with a 40% coupon (which they have every week!)  They were normally about $10 (now about $12), but with 40% off, they are much cheaper.  I bought them and used them for about three years and they still are working just fine!

I hope that you can adapt this small, simple, yet effective method in your classroom!  

Best of luck whether you have started back, or you're about to dive back in!

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