Archive for the ‘Behavior Management’ Category

Writing Effective Report Card Comments on Behavior

Friday, February 14th, 2014

Writing Effective Report Card Comments on Behavior

When it comes to writing report card comments and progress reports, it can be challenging to find effective words to communicate the details of each student’s progress. When writing report card comments, remember to focus on the positive first. Comments on both academic and personal behaviors should be assessed and written in a report card so that students and parents can see their strengths and areas of improvement in order to create a progressive, effective outcome. We have included some thoughtful, constructive, and easily-customizable report card comments designed to address behavior issues and strengthen parent-teacher communication and improve student behavior.

Proficient

  • ______ is a good citizen. He/she is dependable, responsible,
    and respectful.
  • ______ shares and listens. He/she works well with others.
  • _______is a pleasant, respectful, and well-behaved student.
  • Making Progress

  • Since our last conference, _______’s behavior has been improving.
    He/she is showing interest in his/her schoolwork and seems eager to learn.
  • _______ is showing increased desire to demonstrate appropriate attitude and acceptable behavior in the classroom.
  • _______ is learning to anticipate the consequences of his/her actions. This is improving his/her behavior because he/she is taking time to think before acting.
  • There has been noticeable improvement in _______’s behavior. He/she has made an effort to cooperate with his/her peers and practice self-control. Thank you for your support.
  • Lately, _______ has been working to correct his/her behavior, and I am very proud of him/her. I hope he/she continues to maintain improvement.
  • Needs Improvement

  • _______ can be very aggressive towards his classmates. Perhaps we should have him/her meet with the school counselor.
  • Please encourage _______ to use socially appropriate language at all time.
  • Socializing seems to be more important to ­_______ than classwork. He/she has great potential, but will not realize it until he/she pays better attention in class and focuses more in his/her work.
  • _______can be disruptive and disorderly. Please encourage him/her to be more responsible in his/her behavior, and call me to schedule a conference.
  • The above comments open the door to communication between the teacher and parents. It demonstrates reporting behavior progress in a clear, concise, and constructive manner. A teacher’s well written report card comments will be effective and can have the power to encourage and impact students and their parents positively.

    For more tips on report card comments in all subjects see, Writing Effective Report Card Comments.

    Classroom Management: The Hunt for a Toolbox

    Monday, September 10th, 2012

    When I first started teaching, how each day went depended a lot on how benevolent my students were feeling. It is embarrassing to admit that. It’s not as though I didn’t know a lot about classroom management; I just didn’t know how to make it work yet. The weeks went on and I learned every day, but I still had a few students who just had a lot of energy. You know, the ones who hate sitting down at all, who you check in with before class starts so when they need them, they will have that pencil and paper ready, rather than lurking at the bottom of their backpacks under missed assignments that are slowly being turned into pulp with the help of an old banana.

    Often these kids had really great attitudes, and most days I was able to keep everyone on task using my limited mental toolbox of classroom management strategies. But there were days, usually days when something different was happening, like rain or a modified bell schedule, when my class was straining at the seams, led by these special, energetic students. I could feel the moment when things started to go downhill, when productive energy got that wild note and I knew it was going to be a long day.

    Then one day, a student came into my classroom asking if I had the red toolbox.

    “What?” I asked in utter confusion.

    “The red toolbox. Mr. V said you might have it,” the kid answered helpfully.

    I knew I didn’t have any red toolbox, but since the kid was already there, I looked through any closet or drawer where a toolbox could be hiding. Had there been after-hours repairs on my classroom? Finally, I had to turn him away.

    “That’s okay, he said it might be Mrs. L who has it. He couldn’t remember.”

    Hmmm.

    At lunch, I got the scoop. The red toolbox is the trick that drains that little bit of extra energy while you get the rest of your class back on track. You simply write a hall pass for a student, before anything negative happens but after you see what direction things are heading, and your very energetic student rushes off to do you an important favor. Teachers in the know will look for the box, then suddenly remember that a certain teacher on the other side of the school might have borrowed it. This has to be done carefully, or students can spend forty-five minutes wandering around looking for the red toolbox. It is important to find out where students have already looked, and if you think they’ve been out of class for more than a few minutes, it might be time to say, “Sorry. I just can’t remember who has it. You’d better get back to class.”

    In this age of bell-to-bell teaching, I imagine this isn’t a popular strategy for everyone. The idea is that you keep the students exposed to content whether they’re able to participate meaningfully right then or not, right? I say, let them stretch their legs for five minutes and come back feeling good about themselves for helping and ready to learn.

    Reading Aloud in Middle Grade Classrooms

    Tuesday, September 6th, 2011

    After lunch my kids used to come barreling into the classroom.  They had wolfed down lunches and then run off to play basketball or gossip among themselves.  They came into class sweaty and chatty.  They would throw their backpacks down, grab their books, pens and papers, and sprawl in their chairs.  How would I ever get them to focus after lunch when they really wanted to continue that basketball game?

    So here’s what I did.  You might want to try this, it was easy and it worked.  I read aloud to them.  I picked up a good old-fashioned book, and took the first few precious minutes of the class to read.  Some might question this.  After all it wasn’t getting them right to work, they weren’t being engaged in an assignment.  But to that I say, phooey.  They were getting to hear a story, one that I knew would captivate them.  As 7th graders they wouldn’t pick up books that they thought sounded “babyish.”  But if the teacher was reading a book to them they had to listen didn’t they?

    My students hadn’t had lots of exposure to the bigger world so I tried to find things they could enjoy.  One of my favorites was Old Yeller.  Of course it was what Jim Trelease, author of The Read-Aloud Handbook, would call a “cry book.”  At the end of the book there was always a few students with their heads down on the desk, tears dripping from their eyes.  I found the best way to handle that was to not.  I just let them cry.  If they wanted to talk about it later we did so privately and individually.

    Another kind of story the kids liked were those that were a bit absurd.  I remember reading James and the Giant Peach.  Any time I read a book I planned where I would stop each time.  However, with this book we all got carried away.  I almost finished it the first time I read it aloud to a class.  To be that enthralled by a book sometimes makes it okay to just read aloud for an hour.

    For a group of particularly challenged learners I read the first of the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder.  With these I had to spend a lot of time talking about vocabulary before I began reading.  While it might seem simple, most of my students were second language learners, so it took a lot to help them understand.  But they did enjoy the books and often asked me to read the next one in the series, which I happily did.

    If you teach young students no doubt you read to your kids, but what about older ones?  I always felt if nothing else the kids could hear a really good book.  And it must have worked, as they always calmed down as they listened and enjoyed the story.  I had finished reading and we could progress through the rest of the class, focused on whatever the task at hand for the rest of the day.

    Move It!

    Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

    I am convinced that the main goal of teacher training each summer is to remind those of us who do not have to sit in a student desk each day just how hard it is to sit in a student desk all day.

    One of the things which has always fascinated me about professional development days is where we hold our meetings. Sometimes we sit in classrooms in those small desks that were made for people much smaller than the adults that fill the room. Other times we sit at the cafeteria tables of our school – you remember those tables, don’t you? Those little, round pedestals with the seats that squeak every time you move – the seats that have no backs on them so you can never lean any way except forwards for fear you might slide off. By the end of the six hours I have very little that feels professionally developed, except parts of my body that have been professionally developed into unnatural positions, and honestly, all I want to do at the end of those days is find a place to “unkink” all my kinks. Have I learned anything? Only to remind myself to bring a pillow next time or to call in sick. But, don’t think that I don’t think the developers of these days are clever; they are more than clever. In fact, I believe this is all what I like to think of as their master plan. There is a reason behind the hours of torturous seating…the true genius of the plan is it is now emblazed across our minds just how amazingly hard it is to sit still all day. Thus, through the genius of professional development, our students are saved.

    How’s that, you ask? Well, research has shown over and over that the attention span you have with your students is about (give or take) one minute for the children’s age. So, as a typical middle school teacher, I have about 12 to 13 minutes of my students’ undivided attention before I start losing them. That, compiled with the already uncomfortable seats they are forced to endure all day, makes any master teacher know that after a certain point in the lesson, a good teacher will let the students do one important thing: move. And, once I move them, I once again gain 12 to 13 more minutes of their undivided attention. It’s an amazing cycle, really.

    Now, I realize all transition in learning do not have to involve moving. A teacher can simply create a transition of activities and still maintain the children’s attention, but I maintain that for the health and well-being of those students who are trapped in those torture chambers of flawed ergonomic design…we teachers, as caring individuals, must let the masses move.

    Need some ideas for allowing movement in any lesson? Try some of these ideas:
    • Take an exercise break. Give your students a minute to stand up and stretch or do jumping jacks. The one minute of movement will be a definite payback in the time you’ll gain on their attention spans.
    • Divide the students into small groups to continue the learning standard.
    • Allow students to take a clipboard and work sitting somewhere else in the room instead of at a student desk.
    • Take an in-house field trip. (We once quietly walked the school looking for and writing down all the nouns we could see. I know a math teacher who placed math problems up and down the halls for her students to find and solve.)
    • Have your students answer using motions. For example, stand up if the answer to a question is false.
    • Allow individual students to stand up when called upon to read.

    The goal of each class is to learn. Great teachers do whatever it takes to see that learning takes place. If you are hesitant to make transitions of movement in the classroom, don’t be. You just might find that by allowing your children the freedom to move, you will have something else exciting happening in your classroom: you will open your students’ minds to the joy of learning instead of the pain of “deseat.”

    Susan Mackey Collins is a veteran teacher who has taught at both the elementary and middle school level. She currently teaches 6, 7, and 8th grade Advanced Language Arts at Sycamore Middle School outside of Nashville, Tennessee.
    She has authored many books for Teacher Created Resources including Cursive Writing Activities, the Discovering Genres Series, and many of the titles from our popular Mastering Skills Series.