• In the beginning of the school year, I present the Behavior Contract. The contract is sent home to be signed, dated, and returned. I make a big deal out of the word contract, so the students think it’s binding. I mention the contract from time to time and review the contract at the beginning of each quarter. When I review the contracts, I have the stack of signed contracts in my hand as a visual reminder.

  • Belonging, mastery, autonomy, and purpose are the four student motivations that help students stay involved in their education. I try to keep the motivations on the forefront of my mind.

  • Class meetings are held when there seems to be an initiation of a bad habit forming in classroom behavior.  A “talk ball” is passed around the room so only one student can speak at a time. When a student holds the talk ball, they address two issues. The student speaks about a behavior that needs to be held to standards and lists something they would like to learn or revisit. A student is selected as a scribe and makes a list of everything that has been said. The list is printed and displayed in the room. I use the list to point out a class behavior whenever a student breaks one of the standards.

  • I keep communication open with parents.  Each week I call a few students' homes to remind parents that I am a friendly person who wants to work with them as a team. I ensure parents that their student's education is a priority. I make sure to thank them for letting their child be my student. I tell them they are important to me.

  • Class Dojo is displayed on a hidden internet browser page on the Promethean Board to assign reward points. I can easily open the page and click on reward points so the entire class can see that I am acknowledging positive behavior. If the class reaches a certain number of points, they get a reward, and we acknowledge the students with the most points by naming the reward after the five top students. A reward could be called, “The Alison-Jay-Nate-John-Kelly recess,” but everyone gets the reward.

  • When a student is disruptive, I deescalate the behavior by remaining calm and gauging if the behavior has halted learning. If learning has not entirely stopped, I will ignore the event. If learning has stopped, I will tell the student, “You have stopped learning and that cannot happen. Please, focus on learning so you can get the best grade. If you need help finding focus, you can move your seat so you’re less distracted.” If the behavior continues, I tell the student they have one more chance to find a learning behavior. If the behavior continues, the seat is moved. When a student has poor behavior in class, I’ll stop the student as the student is leaving class and say something like, “Hey, what happened today? Is there anything I can do to help you stay more focused?” I listen intently to the answer and see if there is a way to help the situation. The following day, as the student comes into the classroom, I’ll mention that today is a fresh start and I’m excited for the student to participate in learning. I’ll ask the student how they’re doing and if they need any more help. If the behavior continues to the next class, I call home and ask the parents for support. If the behavior continues, I follow the school disciplinary action plan.

  • Design a Personal Improvement Plan. Choose one disruptive behavior a student is breaking like, calling out, drawing on the desk, resting on the desk, talking back, arguing with peers, etc. On the first day I decide to use the PIP for a student, just before dismissal, I show the student the chart that lists the behavior and describe to the student how the chart keeps track, every day, of the behavior improvement. The chart’s main purpose is to show the student how much improvement means to me and that I believe in the student’s ability to improve. Tell the student how an email will be sent daily to the parent about the chart, until positive behavior is established, and the student will be celebrated for improvement.


Barbara Bjerring

Art Educator