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November 9, 2016 Classroom Behavior: The Magic of The Secret Student By Nancy Jang
Grades PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5

    Every year, each batch of students is slightly different from previous years. Some years, you have the class from “you know where” and other years you are pinching yourself because you get the dream class. Some years my favorite incentives and rewards work like a charm and other years, I have tried one new thing after another, looking for a miracle. This year is one of those years. Although I normally reteach classroom behavior expectations after winter break or spring break, this year, I needed the behavior reboot as soon as possible.

    So, to save what was left of my sanity, last week I introduced “The Secret Student.” This idea has been floating around on the Internet for a while, but I hadn’t heard of it until recently, and I am so excited to share the amazing impact it has had on my class!

    Here is how it works. Before the kids get to school, I write a student’s name on a sticky note and adhere it to the back of my Secret Student sign. I put my sign in a page protector and use a magnet to place it high on my whiteboard where everyone can see it, but it’s not easily accessible by little hands.

    Then it remains my tightly-held secret until the end of the day. Periodically during the day, when I notice that the kids are a little unfocused, chatty, or squirrely, I announce that I am looking to see if my Secret Student is being a good listener or if my Secret Student has a calm quiet body, etc. All day long, I am mentally taking note to see if the Secret Student is doing a good job. I am also looking for other kids who are doing a great job listening and paying attention during the day to give them praise.

    When the kids hear that I am looking to see if my Secret Student is listening, miraculously, EVERYONE immediately begins listening attentively! If there are one or two students that still need a reminder, I whisper to them that it would be a bummer if they were the Secret Student and didn’t get a prize because they were making bad choices in their learning behaviors, and they straighten up quickly.

    At the very end of each day, we have a quick meeting on the Rainbow Rug to announce who is the Secret Student. If the Secret Student followed directions, listened, completed their work, and was a good friend, then they receive a reward and a nice note home! This week as a reward, I gave out a special pencil, a prize from the prize box, and a certificate for a free kid’s meal from a local restaurant. I plan to change the prizes daily to keep the kids interested.

    We all have bad days, and kids are no exception. If a child had a bad day, but they were the Secret Student, then I just take the sticky note off the sign and don’t announce the name. I remind them that everyone has a bad day now and then and that every day is another chance to make good choices.

    During the meeting, I also like to acknowledge five other kids who were well behaved, but were not the Secret Student. I call these students Super Stars. Normally, the Super Stars just get acknowledgement from me and applause from their peers. But every week I choose one random day to add a sticky note with a star on it, next to the Secret Student’s name. That day, not only does the Secret Student get rewarded, but ALL the students chosen to be Super Stars will also get a little reward! It adds a special extra surprise to the end of the day and gives me a chance to reward kids that are making good choices consistently.

    The results? The overall energy of my class has calmed significantly and the kids are working hard to be responsible for their own behaviors! The entire week that I have been using Secret Student has been magical. It has turned a very energetic, rowdy group of kids into focused listeners and learners!  

    Click on the image to grab a free sign for your Secret Student! I used Scholastic’s free Word Workshop tool to make this cute sign. Check it out here.

    I hope that The Secret Student works magic in your class like it has for mine.

    Happy Teaching,

    Nancy

     

     

     

    Every year, each batch of students is slightly different from previous years. Some years, you have the class from “you know where” and other years you are pinching yourself because you get the dream class. Some years my favorite incentives and rewards work like a charm and other years, I have tried one new thing after another, looking for a miracle. This year is one of those years. Although I normally reteach classroom behavior expectations after winter break or spring break, this year, I needed the behavior reboot as soon as possible.

    So, to save what was left of my sanity, last week I introduced “The Secret Student.” This idea has been floating around on the Internet for a while, but I hadn’t heard of it until recently, and I am so excited to share the amazing impact it has had on my class!

    Here is how it works. Before the kids get to school, I write a student’s name on a sticky note and adhere it to the back of my Secret Student sign. I put my sign in a page protector and use a magnet to place it high on my whiteboard where everyone can see it, but it’s not easily accessible by little hands.

    Then it remains my tightly-held secret until the end of the day. Periodically during the day, when I notice that the kids are a little unfocused, chatty, or squirrely, I announce that I am looking to see if my Secret Student is being a good listener or if my Secret Student has a calm quiet body, etc. All day long, I am mentally taking note to see if the Secret Student is doing a good job. I am also looking for other kids who are doing a great job listening and paying attention during the day to give them praise.

    When the kids hear that I am looking to see if my Secret Student is listening, miraculously, EVERYONE immediately begins listening attentively! If there are one or two students that still need a reminder, I whisper to them that it would be a bummer if they were the Secret Student and didn’t get a prize because they were making bad choices in their learning behaviors, and they straighten up quickly.

    At the very end of each day, we have a quick meeting on the Rainbow Rug to announce who is the Secret Student. If the Secret Student followed directions, listened, completed their work, and was a good friend, then they receive a reward and a nice note home! This week as a reward, I gave out a special pencil, a prize from the prize box, and a certificate for a free kid’s meal from a local restaurant. I plan to change the prizes daily to keep the kids interested.

    We all have bad days, and kids are no exception. If a child had a bad day, but they were the Secret Student, then I just take the sticky note off the sign and don’t announce the name. I remind them that everyone has a bad day now and then and that every day is another chance to make good choices.

    During the meeting, I also like to acknowledge five other kids who were well behaved, but were not the Secret Student. I call these students Super Stars. Normally, the Super Stars just get acknowledgement from me and applause from their peers. But every week I choose one random day to add a sticky note with a star on it, next to the Secret Student’s name. That day, not only does the Secret Student get rewarded, but ALL the students chosen to be Super Stars will also get a little reward! It adds a special extra surprise to the end of the day and gives me a chance to reward kids that are making good choices consistently.

    The results? The overall energy of my class has calmed significantly and the kids are working hard to be responsible for their own behaviors! The entire week that I have been using Secret Student has been magical. It has turned a very energetic, rowdy group of kids into focused listeners and learners!  

    Click on the image to grab a free sign for your Secret Student! I used Scholastic’s free Word Workshop tool to make this cute sign. Check it out here.

    I hope that The Secret Student works magic in your class like it has for mine.

    Happy Teaching,

    Nancy

     

     

     

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