After two weeks in my Grade 5/6 classroom, it feels like everything is coming together, and I’m starting to feel confident and even more excited about the year ahead. These two weeks have brought many changes to my class list, as I am sure is true of many of you, and tomorrow I will welcome yet another new student to our room, bringing our total to 24 (10 Grade 5s, and 14 Grade 6s). Instead of feeling overwhelmed by the thought of another student to familiarize with our room, I’m feeling calm. I’ve got this!
My Behavior Management Toolbox
As I have for many years, I have used an old “small parts” toolbox to house my most powerful classroom management tool: my token system. This system takes about 5 minutes to set up each year, is a snap to use, and is easily understood (and loved by my students). What’s not to love? I have used it at a variety of grade levels from Grade 1 to Grade 5/6, and it works for all students, but particularly for my most challenging pupils.
How It Works
- Each August I assign every student on my class list with a number, usually by alphabetical order (first names), and display a large copy of the list somewhere easily found in our classroom.
- Each drawer in my “toolbox” is labeled clearly from 1-29 in clear Sharpie marker. The last drawer is labeled “A” (for “all”).
- Inside each drawer are about 20 “tokens”. I’ve been using old Poker chips that my mom was about to donate to the Salvation Army. I rescued them, using a Sharpie to clearly print numbers on them, and then to organize them in my toolbox. In Drawer 1, there are 20 poker chips with “1” on them, Drawer 2 has 20 chips with “2” on them, and so on. The “A” drawer contains 20 chips with “A” on them. Once you’ve done this, you’ve got your behaviour toolbox ready for the rest of your career!!!
- Each student now has a drawer in the toolbox with his/her number on it, and the tokens inside the drawers are just sitting there waiting to be taken out when a student earns them.
- Beside the toolbox I have a small “Tokens” container (you can see the small green bin witting to the right of the toolbox in the photo above.
- Every time I catch a student getting right to work, following directions, kindly helping a classmate, etc., I take a “token” out of his/her drawer and drop it into the Token container. This usually results in almost every student becoming intensely interested in their work, as they’ve heard the token being dropped into the container. I rarely have to verbally remind students to get to work, as the token does that for me!!
- If the entire class is on task, I put an “A” token in the container.
- On Friday afternoons, my “Leader of the Day” closes his/her eyes, reaches into the Token container, and one by one pulls out 5 tokens. The students to whom those tokens belong have now earned a reward of their own choosing, such as “Switch seats with another student” or “Have your name put on the school marquee”.
- If an “A” token is drawn, that entitles the entire class to a group reward, such as extra outdoor time or a “toy & tech day”. Students LOVE it when an “A” token is drawn; I’ve even made one of the options for a personal reward to be “Put 5 A tokens in the container for next week’s draw”.
- After the draw is complete, the Leader of the Day returns all tokens to their proper drawers, ready to be put into action the following week. DONE!!
I have the various rewards on business card-sized cardstock, and keep them in a small business card holder. Students choose a card from the holder, write their name on the back, and I also sign it. A student can hold on to these cards (or have me hold on to them) until he/she is ready to redeem it.
I love this system as it is so easy to set up each year; all I have to do is create a new class list so that each student has his/her own number, and I’m good to go! This past summer I had one of my old students helping me get ready for the school year (she was getting volunteer hours for this to count towards the 40 hour requirement for high school), and she spray-painted the toolbox to match the bins I was using, so that involved one extra (but easy) step.
A friend suggested that I upload my plan to my TPT store, including the actual cards that I’ve created to put in the “Rewards” holder, so I’ve taken on that challenge, and the whole set is now available for you, should you be interested. I’d love to hear from others who have their own easy-to-implement classroom management systems!
Check out the full product, with tons of behavior reward cards, here: Behavior Management Toolbox