Hi Sam, thanks for writing! You raise some very interesting points with your comment. Classroom management is certainly a personal topic, and I have yet to meet two teachers who manage their classrooms exactly the same way. In this post, I have shared a strategy that I have used successfully for several years. I also know many other teachers who use their own adaptation of a color chart system, and it has worked with many populations of students. However, this is not say that this is the end-all solution for classroom management, or necessarily the best. Given the philosophical and sociological implications inherent in a classroom management system, I fully agree that every educator should view her practices with a reflective and critical eye.
As I said, every educator needs to find a balance that works for him/her. I personally choose not to use tangible rewards or incentives in my classroom, however I am comfortable awarding privilege time, such as our free choice activities. Of course, other educators are not comfortable with that, and I certainly understand their point of view as well. In my opinion, there is a difference between earning prizes and earning a privilege, but I guess you could argue that it's just semantics.
In my classroom, the color chart becomes fairly irrelevant after the first month or two of school. It provides a visual symbol to remind my students of our co-created social norms, but it is not an active part of our daily classroom life. Basically, at the beginning of the school year, I feel my students need a scaffold to help them with the transition back into a classroom setting. It helps my students feel safe, and that creates an environment where they are willing to take academic and interpersonal risks. As the school year progresses and the relationships grow stronger in our community, I lead frequent discussions about moral topics, community values, and social responsibility. Sam, if you could hear my students discussions and thinking, you would realize how much further my students are in terms of Kohlberg's stages than level two! My students share my ethic of "working hard and playing hard," and this is what the Friday Reward system reinforces in my classroom, not self-interested compliance. Phew, that's certainly more than my two-cents, but I appreciate the soap box to explore these important issues!
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