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Behavior and Discipline in the Classroom
Episode 410th October 2023 • The Teaching Toolbox - A Podcast for Middle School Teachers • Brittany Naujok & Ellie Nixon, Podcast for Middle School Teachers
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Welcome to this week's episode of the Teaching Toolbox podcast, where we dive into the topic of behavior management techniques in middle school.

Managing the behavior of middle school students can be a challenge, but with the right strategies, you can create a positive and productive learning environment for everyone involved. In this episode, we'll discuss some of the most effective behavior management techniques and share our own experiences and insights from years of working with middle school students.

Whether you're a seasoned educator or just starting out, this episode will provide valuable tips and techniques you can use to help your students succeed.

Topic Discussed

  • Common behavior issues
  • Classroom management techniques to use with the whole class
  • Behavior management techniques to use with individual students

Related Episodes

Establishing a Positive Classroom Culture

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Ellie’s resources can be found on her website or on TPT.

Mentioned in this episode:

Looking for support with Classroom Management?

Grab a digital mental health check-in for free and receive classroom management support from The Colorado Classroom: https://thecoloradoclassroom.com/product/mental-health-digital-check-in-form Then take a look at these classroom management resources to see what is a good fit for your students: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/The-Colorado-Classroom/Category/999965039-CLASSROOM-MANAGEMENT-999965039-1263189

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Transcripts

Ellie:

Hey there, this is Ellie, and I'm here with Brittany.

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Brittany: Hello!

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Ellie: Welcome to this week's episode

of our podcast, where we're going

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to be diving deep into the topic of

behavior management in middle school.

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As any teacher will tell you,

managing the behavior of middle

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school students can be a challenge.

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But with the right strategies, you can

create a positive and productive learning

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environment for everyone involved.

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In this episode, we'll be discussing

some of the most effective behavior

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management techniques that teachers can

use in their classrooms and sharing our

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own experiences and insights from years

of working with middle school students.

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Whether you're a seasoned educator or just

starting out, this episode will provide

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valuable tips and techniques that you

can use to help your students succeed.

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So sit back, grab a cup of coffee, and

join us as we explore the exciting world

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of behavior management in middle school.

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Brittany: So what are some of

the behavior issues that you've

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dealt with in the classroom?

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Ellie: Some of the most common ones

are things like not doing their work,

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just kind of sitting there, maybe

looking around, trying to pull out other

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things from the desk, talking in class,

calling out, distracting other people.

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Like, you know, trying to

talk to those other people, or

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maybe throwing things at them.

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Sometimes getting up and trying to walk

around, you know, during class when

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they're supposed to be actually doing

something at their seat, or sometimes

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every once in a while even trying to

just walk out of the room without asking

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permission or saying where they're going

or making sure it's okay to go somewhere.

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What about you?

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What kind of things do you think

of when you think of behavior

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management and discipline things?

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Brittany: A lot of talking out

of turn some yelling across the

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classroom to get somebody else's

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Ellie: Hmm.

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Brittany: Yeah, a lot of throwing things

to get someone's attention or passing

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Ellie: Ooh, passing notes.

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Yeah.

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Brittany: Not working,

not being attentive.

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Not having their supplies,

not being prepared for class.

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That was a common one for me.

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Getting up and just walking out of class,

going to the bathroom without permission,

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or just getting up and leaving the room

without permission was a common thing.

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Yeah, just, those were

the most common ones.

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I've had a few oddball

ones as well, but...

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Ellie: Do tell.

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Brittany: I've had, during my

student teaching, I actually had

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a student pull a knife on me.

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Ellie: Oh my gosh.

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Brittany: And then when we had

their parent come in to talk to

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us the parent threw a desk at me.

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Ellie: Oh my goodness.

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Brittany: So was not happy with me,

and yeah, that was quite an incident.

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And then, and then close to the end of

my teaching I had a student who had a

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lot of emotional issues and just threw

basically everything he could at me.

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He threw a desk at me, he threw shoes,

he threw markers, he threw binders.

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Ellie: hmm.

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Mm

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Brittany: Yeah, he just, he just didn't

know how to regulate his emotions.

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Ellie: hmm.

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So, in a more extreme situation

like that, did you have support

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from outside of the classroom?

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Administration or guidance counselor or?

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Brittany: When I did the student teaching

one, I did not really have support.

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That was a very rough school.

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It was considered a college prep

school, but it was in the middle

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of Milwaukee urban area and did not

have a lot of support there, even

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though it was my student teaching.

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But with the, the emotional one,

I had a great administrative staff

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and they were very supportive.

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They ended up getting him testing

and moving him to a more, a classroom

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that was more conducive for him.

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Yeah.

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Ellie: Yeah.

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So, we have those extreme

kind of situations where...

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We do need some of that outside support.

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you know, I have had a couple of

students over the years where I

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had to call the guidance counselor.

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I had to call somebody else

in to help just because of the

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general demeanor of the student.

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Not doing work just as other kids

don't do work, but just with a little

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bit of a scarier attitude, I'll say.

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So fortunately we had, you know, good

support and guidance counselors would

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come in and help and try to, try to see

what was going on and try to connect with,

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with the students and that kind of thing.

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But if we think about some of those less

extreme, more common behaviors, like we

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kind of talked about to begin with what

are some things that we can do in general

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for the whole class to try to minimize

some of those behaviors or keep students

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on the right track and paying attention?

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Any thoughts that come to

mind for you right away?

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Brittany: For the whole class, I

tend to like doing a situation where

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you write a word up on the board.

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Maybe like recess or reward or something

like that and you, you either write

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each letter up as they earn a point or

you erase a letter one way or the other

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Ellie: Yeah, we did that, too.

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Yeah.

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Brittany: and then they, you know, try

to get recess or get a reward based on

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behavior and it can go back and forth.

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all throughout the day or

all throughout the week,

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Ellie: Mm

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Brittany: Over and over

until they hopefully earn the

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recess or earn the reward.

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So that was one of our favorites.

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We also did like marble jars or bean

jars where we would have marbles added

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to a jar based on behavior each day.

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I would add like three marbles

each day that they had a great day.

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If I had a sub and I got a great

report, I'd add five marbles.

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If they had a bad day, I might add

just one or none, it would depend.

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And then when it, when it would end up

at a certain line, they'd earn a reward.

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And so, and then the jar

had like four lines on it.

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for the four quarters of the year.

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Ellie: Oh, okay.

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Brittany: So, how about you?

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Ellie: Well, thinking about the beginning

of the year, since we are kind of near

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that, sometimes I found over the years

that it was really helpful to let kids

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not just create the rules and be any

rules that they wanted, but have some

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input into rules so that they kind of

buy into those rules so that most of

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the time kids do believe in something

being right or wrong or good or bad.

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And they have, you know, kind of a

moral, ethical, whatever, a moral belief

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about how they should be behaving or how

they expect their peers to behave and

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what kind of classroom they want to be

in and environment they want to be in.

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So we've had times when we let them

create some of the rules or construct

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the rules and really they end up with

the rules that you want most of the time,

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you know, they will say you shouldn't be

talking when somebody else is talking, you

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should be paying attention when there's

instruction going on, things like that.

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So getting them to buy into

those rules is helpful just for

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the whole class environment.

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And we did have that podcast

episode where we talked about

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the positive classroom culture.

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So, if we wanted to talk about things

like routines and stuff like that,

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you guys could check out that podcast.

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Cause we did a little bit more in depth

about that, but thinking about the

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rules, thinking about routines, like we

know how we're supposed to get in line.

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We know what the routine

is for the end of class.

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We know what we're supposed to do

if we get done with something early.

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So there's not question about...well,

I don't know what to do right now,

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so I think I'll talk to my friend or

I'll like flick this paper over at

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that person over there to get their

attention because I don't know what

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I'm supposed to be doing right now.

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So if we give them those parameters, those

expectations, it helps a little bit at

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least to minimize some of those behaviors.

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But then I like to do things

like group or team points.

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So most of the time I had my

students sitting in groups and

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they would pick their group name.

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So they had the opportunity to do that

instead of just saying group, A, B, C,

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D, whatever, they chose their names and

their names would be up on the board.

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And then we would tally points for

those groups, depending on maybe

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behavior, participation, homework

completion, that type of thing.

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And once they reached a certain number

of points, I think it was probably 10 ish

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then they got to have a specific prize.

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Maybe they got to come and have lunch

in the classroom or some homework

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passes or some extra free time.

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Something that they were motivated by.

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So I really like that.

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That was really helpful...for

a lot of grade levels.

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I did that I think at fifth

grade, fourth grade, sixth grade.

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So that was helpful there.

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Brittany: Lunch with the

teacher is always a popular one.

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Ellie: It really is.

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Yeah, you think once they get to middle

school they're maybe not so interested

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in that but they really do like that and

a lot of kids would like to just come

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eat lunch in the classroom because it

was so much quieter than the cafeteria

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Brittany: Yeah, it doesn't have the chaos.

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Ellie: Right.

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They'd like to come and sit and read.

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Brittany: Yeah.

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Ellie: Read in the classroom

because they wanted the quiet.

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But that was really helpful for,

for groups and, and the whole class.

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Brittany: We would often do like mission

statements at the beginning of the year.

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So kids kind of bought in that way,

and they would establish a mission

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statement with like three main points

that they wanted to work on behavior wise.

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And academically, and

then socially as well.

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And so those were like their three

main points that they would work on.

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And then I had a system where I did a,

a green, yellow, red kind of question.

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And one of the questions was

what do you want to see in

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the classroom behavior wise?

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And they would work in different groups

and come up with scenarios that they

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would write on construction paper.

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And then they'd.

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Tape them up underneath the question

and so they would say like I want to see

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positive talk I want to see helpful You

know helpful Strategies I want to see

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Friendly voices I want you know and they

would come up with different things that

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they wanted to see in the classroom and

That would help with the behavior because

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I would leave that up most of the year And

then I could point, you know, if somebody

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was like, "That's a stupid answer!"

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I could point out, you know, Is that

really working towards our behavior

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that we want to see in the classroom?

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Is that positive talk?

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Is that friendly voices?

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You know.

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And then they would have to reflect

on themselves and talk about,

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you know, No it's not, I'm sorry.

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And then they'd have to

apologize and that kind of thing.

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So.

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What are some techniques

you used with individuals?

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Ellie: Well, we had a system on our team

where we did a thing called demerits.

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And so, if students got a certain number

of demerits throughout a time period,

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they might end up with a note home or

like a lunchtime detention type of thing.

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We really didn't have a lot of detention

stuff at our school for the school.

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So it was kind of on the team level

and, and typically lunchtime was

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the only time you could do that so

that they did have about 15 minutes

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or so of a recess type of time.

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So they would have to

miss things like that.

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So we did have the demerits.

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At one point in time we

had reflection sheets.

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So if it was a homework miss or some other

type of situation in the classroom, they

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would have to fill out a reflection sheet.

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What happened?

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What would, what did they do?

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What should they have done differently?

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What will they do next time?

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That type of thing.

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And that would have to

be signed by parents.

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And brought back to school.

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Brittany: We had a, a similar sheet.

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We, for some years we called

it like a character sheet or

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citizenship, citizenship sheet.

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That's a tough one to say correctly.

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Ellie: Say that three times.

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Brittany: Or a behavior

contract, something like that.

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But it basically went

through those same motions.

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You know, what did you,

what did you do wrong?

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What should you have done instead?

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What character was

missing during this event?

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That sort of thing.

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We often had a corner of the classroom

where they would sit and reflect

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on their behavior, and we had like

character posters up in that corner.

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We had like a, it was like a calm

down corner, so they had like,

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there was a bucket in the corner,

and they had like different fidget

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items in there

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Ellie: Oh, okay.

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Cool.

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Mm

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Brittany: stress balls and stuff so

that they could go to that corner if

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they needed to and just kind of unwind

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Ellie: Right.

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Yeah, thinking about going somewhere.

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Sometimes we would send them, I mean,

they would go across to the classroom,

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across the hall, and maybe hang out

in there, sit there for a little

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bit, do some work over there or, you

know, run an errand to someone else.

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It's just something to get them

out of the situation that they

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were in, if it was, you know,

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Brittany: Yeah, sometimes

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Ellie: to walk away from.

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Brittany: Sometimes you see a kid

who's definitely having trouble

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sitting still or focusing or whatever.

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And so just giving them a note

that says like You know, Mr.

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So and so I'm sending you Tom to

just You know, burn off some energy,

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Ellie: Mm hmm.

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Mm hmm.

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Brittany: You know, and then you

just say, can you take this to Mr.

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So and so?

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And then,

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Ellie: Right.

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Right.

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Brittany: yeah,

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Ellie: And it's also helpful, like, to

give kids just an opportunity, like, to

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choose different things in the classroom.

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If that's something that you're able

to do, you know, do you want to do a

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group project or work independently?

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Or even if they're in a behavior

situation, do you want to do

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this or do you want to do that?

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And try to give them some

choice as far as work, behavior.

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So that maybe if they're in a situation

where they know they're not doing the

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right thing, but they don't know how to

get out of it and you give them a choice,

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A or B, would you like to walk across

the hall and, and sit in that classroom?

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Would you like to stay here and

behave as you're supposed to, or, you

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know, start taking part in whatever

activity we're working on or start

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taking your notes, that kind of thing.

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Giving them that opportunity for a little

bit of choice gives them kind of an out

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Brittany: yeah.

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And it helps them, it helps

them save face in a way

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Ellie: Yeah.

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Brittany: yeah.

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And I think along those same lines,

just giving choice in any activity

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can help a kid not behave poorly.

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You know, it helps them feel like they

have more ownership in the day, so, yeah.

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Ellie: I know this is off topic in a

way, but going back to the first whole

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class idea, it might seem silly and it

might not work all the time, but there

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are times that I just sat and waited.

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You know, if the whole class was

talking or the whole class was

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whatever, and I just stood there

and I wouldn't say anything.

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And one person would be

like, Oh, she's waiting.

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And then it kind of gets around and then

they, they just be quiet by themselves

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and it doesn't seem like it's something

that should work, but when they realize

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that you're not going to do anything

until they're done and they're ready

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to move on, sometimes something little

like that helps and they just stop

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and, and they're ready and then you

can tell them one thing at a time.

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First do this.

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And wait till they're all doing it.

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Then do this, wait till

they're all doing it.

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Take out your pencil.

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Show me your pencil.

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You know, and then slowing down sometimes.

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It's hard to slow down because you want

things to do, you need to keep going,

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but sometimes they need you to do that.

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Brittany: There's those memes

where it shows like a skeleton

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standing in front of a classroom

saying like, you know, I'll wait,

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Ellie: I didn't have to wait that long.

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Brittany: but, but it is

effective sometimes, and another,

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another thing I found effective

sometimes was just whispering,

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Ellie: Mm hmm.

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Mm hmm.

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Yes.

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I did that too.

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Yeah.

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Brittany: you know, okay, I'm gonna wait,

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Ellie: Mm hmm.

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Brittany: real quiet.

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Ellie: Right.

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Brittany: And whoever's listening

to me right now is going to get

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three extra minutes of recess.

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Ellie: hmm.

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Mm

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Brittany: And you, you know, you would

see some kids who are like, Okay, I'm

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sitting upright, I'm listening, you know?

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Ellie: Right.

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Yeah.

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Brittany: Yeah, so.

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So I

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Ellie: think, I was gonna say, I

think that leads us into the idea

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that we need to stay calmer, right?

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Brittany: yeah.

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Staying calm is kind of one of those

keys when dealing with behavior issues.

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Don't let the kid wind you up.

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Ellie: Mm

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Brittany: Don't, let the

situation wind you up.

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Don't eat into the situation.

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You're just gonna, that's just

gonna make the situation worse.

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So.

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And you want to have as many tools as you

can in your teaching toolbox because what

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works with student A isn't necessarily

going to work with student B or C.

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And what works with student A

today is not necessarily going

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to work with student A tomorrow.

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Ellie: Mm hmm.

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Brittany: So feel free to check

out the show notes for everything

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mentioned in this episode.

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You can find them at

teachingtoolboxpodcast.

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com.

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Ellie: Okay, so we'll see you next time.

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Brittany: Thank you for listening.

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