Schoolwide Classroom/Mgmt

Establishing a Positive Classroom Climate: Teacher Advice

At a recent behavior-management workshop, teachers shared their best ideas for managing student behaviors in the classroom. Here are six tips that they offered:

Critters!: Rewarding Positive Behaviors

This intervention rewards students for positive behaviors. It can be used with small groups or your entire class.

Jim's Hints

Give Critter Slips Out to Other Staff to Distribute to Your Students. Here is a strategy to use if you want your students to show the daily positive behavior in settings other than your classroom (e.g., in art, gym, music, lunch). Give the staff responsible for supervising students in these settings a handful of Critter Slips. Tell them the target positive behavior and, throughout the class or activity period, encourage these staff members to hand out slips randomly to students engaging in that behavior.

Have a 'Mystery Behavior Day'. Tell students at the start of the day that you will be handing out Critter Slips as usual, but that you are keeping secret the positive behavior that you are rewarding. When handing out slips, say to the receiving students something like: "Nice job. Here is a Critter Slip. Think about why you received it!". At the end of the day, ask students who had received Critter Slips to guess the positive behavior that you had selected as the theme for that day.

Customize Reward Slips to Support Curriculum. You may want to create your own customized reward slips to link them thematically to the curriculum that you are teaching. If you are presenting a unit on African wildlife, for example, you might make up slips that depict representative animals from the savannah ecosystem. For a unit on American presidents, you could hand out reward slips featuring the faces and names of lesser-known Chief Executives to help children better to remember them.

Alter the Reward Slips for Older Students. The Critter Slips program is suitable for older students as well as for younger children. Since 'cute' Critter Slips may put off middle and high school students, though, you can replace them with reward slips that resemble currency. Some inventive teachers even go so far as to create 'classroom bucks', fake dollar bills that display their face and name. Older students collect these 'dollars' as avidly as smaller children seek Critter Slips!

Safe Playground

Almost all students love recess. But schools find that behavior and safety problems can often occur on the playground-for reasons that are easy to understand.

Jim's Hints

Encourage Fair Selection of Children for Teams. Some children with poor social skills or a limited number of friends may find themselves regularly excluded from play groups or selected last for teams. Playground monitor can take steps in organizing teams to be sure that all children have an equal chance to participate. For example, the monitor may randomize teams by lining up children by birthday or height, then have the line count off by 2's to create teams.


Help Monitors to Learn Student Names. One of the most powerful ways that playground monitors can gain positive influence over students is to learn their names! At the start of the school year, teachers can invite monitors into their classrooms to teach children rules to playground games. Not only would children love a lesson on games, but also the monitor can begin to learn children's identities and acquire status as a colleague and equal of the classroom teacher.


Teach Children To Play Cooperative Games. There is some evidence (e.g., Heck et al., 2001) that children engage less frequently in aggressive behavior when they are playing cooperative games (that is, games in which students are not directly competing with others) than when engaged in competitive games. In fact, the effect of reduced student aggression may persist for a time even after the cooperative games are over. Your school may want to invite physical education instructors or other school staff who know a range of cooperative games and activities to train playground monitors in their use.

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