Some years you just have a class that has a lot going on and at the end of the day you stumble into your house and climb into bed and suddenly the alarm goes off and you're like "what happened, how is it morning already, I didn't even look at that pile of papers". And in those years, you are scrambling for every management tip you can uncover.
This year I'm breaking out every management tool I know and love. I'm counting down. Counting up. Giving magic numbers. Showing ever-y-thing I'm doing for my English language learners and special ed kiddos. I'm dancing around the room. Standing behind students. Perfecting my teacher look. Giving kind reminders that mooning the class isn't a great idea. Also, we don't pretend to beat each other up in line. Spitting in someone's face is not ok. And please, stop hiding under your desk for the entire lesson. Remember to keep your hands to yourself! Be kind! Good morning!
Oh, children. I love my job. (seriously, that's not even sarcasm)
I'm not a behavior chart person. I don't like having all that up on my walls. I don't like classroom economies. I know, I know... they teach all kinds of great stuff for social studies, but I don't like the whole management of it on my part. That doesn't mean they aren't effective. They just don't work with my teaching style. Easy is key for me.
I feel like I've probably tried every management idea ever invented (haha no way is that true, but still) at some point in my ten years of teaching. Some work well for some classes and some don't work at all for others. It really varies by class, so I have to tweak it a little each year. I even started a Pinterest board just to collect ideas for my future classes.
This year, we compete to beat the teacher with our great behavior, and boy is it tough to win as a class. And while I love my whole brain competition, I really want those individual students who are following directions and being so wonderful to feel the love. Plus I want some of those who sometimes struggle with great choices to feel the love, too. So I started Class Dojo up for this group. I don't do this for every group, because to keep track of a whole class (I have just under 30 this year!) is A TON OF WORK. And it's constant. I'd like to be teaching instead, thanks. I don't like that my iPad goes to sleep and I'm typing in my school produced password and reopening the app to give sweet Glenda a point for "following directions". But this year, it's necessary.
I like Class Dojo. This year I may even love it. They have really upped their game, and I'm actually pretty fond of the parent connection opportunities that are available. I love a free resource, and this one is getting better and better. If you haven't checked it out lately, hop on over to their teacher resources and be impressed.
Any who. Back to BARF. We compete daily to beat the teacher with behavior points. The class does great, the class gets a point. If the class isn't following directions, the teacher gets a point. It's actually a pretty great system and does motivate students to help each other out and get it together. I still needed a bigger carrot to dangle than just "be proud that you beat the teacher today". Lots of teachers do it differently, but if my class beats me, they get BARF Time. They earn 10-15 minutes of BARF time at the end of the day. That means when it gets to that time of the day, I stop teaching and they get to it.
They. Love. It.
I wish I could take credit for this. BARF was not my idea. I learned about it from a professor in grad school, who shared it from a friend of hers.
BARF means Be A Reading Fanatic. It's glorified silent reading time (this year I let them creative write if they want to as well). If the class beats me, they earn BARF time. They can pick a place in the room to BARF.
While silent reading time may not have gotten all students fully on board, BARF time has got it going on. By October, it's just rolling off our tongue (haha, ew) like it isn't even a disgusting idea.
"Do we get to barf today?"
"Can we barf anywhere?"
"What time do we barf?"
"Find a place to barf!"
"Guys! Quiet so we can barf!"
It's our little classroom secret. Sometimes I'll say they earned BARF time and kids will scramble to close the door so nobody knows (the other teachers already know I do this, but the kids don't know they know, you know?). I don't have a classroom poster for it. Can you imagine if the principal walked in to observe me and on my front board I had a big BARF sign? Not impressive! We can't just walk around the school asking the teacher when we can barf, you know? People will think we've gone crazy! They might even think the teacher is a little strange. Really, I'm trying to save face.
The added bonus of BARF time is that it's also a little extra quiet time at the end of the day and that is glorious.
Just another trick up the teacher sleeve.