How many of you have ever tried some sort of behavior management system such as a stoplight, alerts, or writing names on the board in a last ditch effort to make kids behave?
I have to admit, for many years I used systems that included a stoplight, stickers, stamps, time out and a treasure box.
Honestly, I thought I was doing the right thing. I really didn't know any differently!
That is, until one day when I was at our state early childhood conference with a coworker. She wanted to attend a workshop titled: "How to Handle all the Fussing, Fighting, Fits, and Tantrums." Honestly, I didn't want to go. I figured it was going to be "just another behavior workshop" telling me what I already knew. At the time I truly believed I had this behavior thing all under control!
Since I didn't want to walk around the conference all by myself, I attended the workshop with my friend, and to my pleasant surprise what I discovered that day would change my life over the next few years! That workshop was about Conscious Discipline and once I got a little nibble, I wanted the WHOLE BITE!
I came to discover over the next few years that the systems of stickers, stamps, and stoplights I was using were actually interfering with my relationship with my students as well as their optimal development. In my attempt to control their behavior and I wasn't teaching them a great amount of self-control.
Conscious Discipline has given me tons of new tools that help me connect with students rather than attempting to control them. I want to share one of the first rituals I started using in my classroom that made a tremendous difference in the sense of unity that we felt. My hope is that you have time to prepare some rituals this summer so you can begin the next school year building connections with your students rather than planning how you'll control them! It sure is easier on the pocketbook too!
You can get started with your Wish Well Ritual with one easy visit to the Dollar Store. All you need is a pizza pan, clear contact paper or packing tape, a red heart, magnetic tape, and photos of your students (or some other icon to represent all your students and classroom staff).
It looks something like this...
Put all the pictures around the edge of the pizza pan with the heart in the middle. We call this our "circle of friends."
This isn't your typical attendance routine! It will transform your classroom! Each day, at the beginning of the day, have one of the children count to see if everyone is present.
If anyone is missing from your "circle of friends" they move that picture to the center of the heart and lead the class in singing this song. "We wish you well, we wish you well. All through the day today, we wish you well." We send them heart felt warm wishes as well as prayers for safety and healing while they are away from our school family.
To make this more concrete for the younger children I use this little doll with a photo of the absent child in the plastic sleeve on the front. We pass the doll around and give it a hug while we sing the song!
When the absent child returns to school the following day, we have another special ritual we do for them. We call it our Absent Child Ritual. To welcome them back to our "circle of friends" we recite this little chant and give them a butterfly kiss like this...
With the younger children we use a shiny little heart-shaped box filled with kisses to welcome the absent child back to class. While the child is gone we pass the box around and "fill it with kisses" for our friend. Upon their return, we "shower them with kisses" by shaking all the love out of the box onto their head. :)
This was only the beginning of our journey from a climate of control and competition to a climate of caring, connection, and love! Connection leads to impulse control, willingness, and cooperation.
Suddenly, parents started telling me that instead of coming home and reporting who had to move their clip, sit in timeout, or miss recess, their children were sharing about who was missing from class that day. They would include them in their bedtime prayers and really began caring for their classmates in a new way.
I used stickers, stamps, and stoplights because I didn't know any other way. That's what I was taught to do in college and it was what everyone around me was doing. I didn't realize that these fear-based methods actually created more stress and inhibited learning and connection. Now that I know better, I choose to do better. Will you join me?
Perhaps you could watch some of Dr. Bailey's videos on Youtube this summer, read one of her books, or check out Shubert's Classroom for more ideas about how to get started with Conscious Discipline or continue growing in your journey! As always, I wish you well!
Conscious Discipline Certified Instructor
Ignite Learning with Conscious Discipline LLC