Public behavior charts aren’t for me for many reasons (stay tuned for a future post about this). And while my positive, relationships-based, and feedback-rich approach works well for most, some students simply need more targeted, comprehensive support to be successful. A little extra sumthin’ sumthin’, if you will.

Individualized behavior charts teach and train students how to self-regulate, all the while celebrating their growth.

Here are 12 tips to consider when creating and utilizing individualized behavior charts:

  1. Control Your Message: Framing is everything. Be sure the chart’s name has a joyful ring to it, such as the “Good Choice Chart.” These are not good or bad kid charts and shouldn’t feel like it! Put the emphasis on the choice, not the kid.
  2. Personalize It:  Does the student love Paw Patrol? Dora the Explorer? Lions? Tigers? Bears? Find a way to incorporate interests on the chart. We want the student to actually like and value it.
  3. Aim Low (at first):  The first week you implement the chart, be sure to set a VERY achievable goal. It’s important for the student to experience immediate success for buy-in purposes. As the student achieves, gradually increase the goal until behaviors become habitual.
  4. Desired Behaviors:  Many teachers create individualized behavior charts that are broken down by chunks of time or subject areas. Instead, consider focusing on specific behaviors. It’s vital to set clear expectations. Set up a conference with the student to determine what 5 or so behaviors they feel should go on the chart. With time, this language (and hopefully the desired behaviors) will stick.
  5. Freebie(s):  While the majority of the behaviors on the chart should be ones that the student needs to improve, for confidence reasons, be sure to embed one or two things the student typically does well.
  6. Parent Partnerships:  Allow the student’s parents to provide feedback during the creation of the chart. Plan and collaborate about ways the chart will be reinforced both in the school and home setting.
  7. Candid Conversations:  Throughout the day and at the close of the day, engage in dialogue with the student about their progress. Decide together about whether or not stars (or whatever it may be) were earned. Let the student complete the chart each day to promote ownership.
  8. Earn it Back:  Give the student a chance to turn things around. You don’t want the whole day to be shot because of an off morning. Allow them to earn back stars when they display a solid effort to improve.
  9. Meaningful Incentives: Always let the student weigh in on the incentive for motivational purposes. Perhaps suggest things that strengthen the teacher-student or parent-child bond, such as lunch with the teacher or a trip to the fro-yo parlor with Mom and Dad.
  10. Celebrate w/ Peers:  No matter how discrete you try to be, classmates will know that a student has their own personal chart. So, use it to your advantage. Enlist peers to help celebrate the student’s success at times.
  11. Principal’s Office:  Is the student making improvements? March them right on down to the principal’s office to show off!
  12. Let it Go:  Is the student regularly meeting the goal? AWESOME! It’s time to let it gooo, let it goooooo!

Here’s a simple example of a Good Choice Chart I’ve used.

Like these? Have any more suggestions? Let me know!

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