School starts tomorrow. I have been dreading this day since June 15th. To everyone's envy, I did nothing this summer. Nothing. Well, I did finish grad school, but it was only 1 class and 1 exiting exam. For the most part, I was lazy and it was great. Under my facade of idleness, however, my mind was ceaselessly working to prepare myself for this upcoming school year. Okay, okay, so maybe "ceaselessly" is a bit of a stretch, but since August started, my mind's been "gearing up" for this school year.
I'll be honest. I'm not the world's best disciplinarian. As any teacher will tell you, a good disciplinarian is consistant. Well, I am not. What is tolerable to me one day totally pisses me off the next. I can't help it. And trust me, I've tried. I've tried all kinds of rewards and consequences systems; I've used points, colors, prizes, checkmarks, demerits, pluses, minuses, positive reinforcements. I've even gone so far as to try NOT having a system. Yeah, THAT was a fun year.
So this year I've decided to go with a simple color card system. For you "civilians" (a.k.a not teachers), I will quickly explain. All students have 3 cards: green, yellow, red (hopefully you're picking up on the symbolism of the colors). Everyone starts everyday out on green. If you break a rule, you "turn your card" to yellow. Break another rule, you go to red. Okay, colors mean NOTHING to students unless they get something, like candy. However, I stopped rewarding kids with food a long time ago (Have you ever given candy to an extremely overweight child? It's not a good feeling). I've also done away with giving away crappy plastic toys. My reward is time. Free time. The two sweetest words a fourth grader can hear. That, and "no homework."
Long story short, if you end up with X number of greens on Friday, you get Y minutes of free time. It's simple, yes?
However, I still have the problem of being consistent. If I've just told the class not to leave their seats, how do I refrain myself (especially during certain times of the month) from standing up, pointing at a child, and shouting "YELLOW!" when all she's done is leave her seat to get the pencil that's rolled out of her reach? Do I really want to be that kind of Nazi teacher? I mean, I did just tell her not to leave her seat, but where does one draw the line? Depending on my mood, I sometimes feel justified in my reaction (okay, perhaps the shouting and pointing is a bit much), whereas other times I'm like, "Who am I and did that really just come out of my mouth?"
So I will do my best to be fair and watch for pencils purposefully rolled out of reach. Because you know once you've gone soft with one of them, you're pretty much screwed. Wish me luck!