Behaviorally, some students need a little extra sumthin’ sumthin’ in order to put their best foot forward. While my relationships-based, positive discipline approach worked well for most, I definitely had some students throughout my career who simply needed more. This is when I’d usually turn to individualized behavior charts to help teach and train these students to self-regulate. Here are 12 tips to strongly consider when creating and utilizing individualized behavior charts!
- Control Your Message: Framing is everything. Be sure the chart’s name has a positive ring to it. I called mine ‘Good Choice’ Charts. These are not ‘good or bad kid’ charts and shouldn’t feel like it! Put the emphasis on the choice, not the kid.
- Personalize It: Does the student love SpongeBob SquarePants? Dora the Explorer? Find a way to incorporate interests on the chart. We want the student to like and value it.
- 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 the behaviors become habit.
- Desired Behaviors: Many teachers create individualized behavior charts that are broken down by chunks of time or subject areas. Instead, consider focusing on behaviors. It’s vital to set clear expectations. Set up a conference with the student to determine what 5 or so behaviors he/she feels should go on the chart. With time, this language (and hopefully the desired behaviors) will stick.
- 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 1 or 2 things the student typically does well.
- 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 settings.
- Candid Conversations: Throughout the day and at the close of the day, engage in dialogue with the student about his/her progress. Decide together about whether or not stars (or whatever it may be) were earned. Let the student fill out the chart for ownership.
- Earn it Back: Give the student the chance to turn things around. You don’t want the whole day to be shot because of an off morning. Allow the child to earn it back for making a solid effort to improve.
- Meaningful Incentives: Always let the child weigh-in on the incentive for motivational purposes. I liked suggesting things that would strengthen the teacher-student or parent-child bond, such as lunch in the classroom or a trip to the fro-yo parlor.
- 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. My students with charts typically loved getting a shout-out or applause from friends for a job well-done.
- Principal’s Office: Is the student making improvements? March him/her right on down to the principal’s office to show off!
- Let it Go: Is the student regularly meeting the goal? AWESOME! It’s time to let it gooo, let it goooooo! Put the child back on the whole-class system already in place.
Here’s a simple example of a Good Choice Chart I used.
Like these? Have any more suggestions? Let me know!