This past month on the blog we have been talking about Classroom Management. We chatted about how to get back into the routine of things after being on break, some routines that I use each and every day, how to lesson plan effectively, and how to implement classroom jobs.
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This week we are going to chat about Classroom Management Systems. I would encourage you to establish at least two of the following management systems:
Whole Group Management System– rewarding the class for whole group efforts
Small Group Management System– rewarding individual groups for efforts
Individual Management System– rewarding each student for their behavior efforts
Individual Management System
I am going to focus on the Individual Management System I use in Room 154. I have actually used this system since my first year of teaching and it is probably my most favorite part of my classroom. It combines behavior management + financial literacy.
I won’t go into all the gory details because I am sure you are just interested in what you need to do. But, I conducted research during my year in the Teacher Fellows Program on the effects of an economic behavior system in my classroom.
This came about from the book “Teach Like Your Hair’s on Fire” by Rafe Esquith. I can’t even remember why I had to read his book in undergrad, but I did. And he had this whole chapter on his classroom economic system and I thought it was ahhh-mazing.
I grew up in a home where money management was super important. When I turned 13 I started getting an allowance. With said allowance, I had to fill out this ridiculous check register of how I spent my money and turn it into my Dad every few weeks. I thought it was stupid.
Fast forward a few years to when I realized just HOW valuable those check registers were. My parents taught me SO much about how to make decisions about money, what was wise and what wasn’t. I work in a Title 1 school and I know that many of my students will not have the same opportunity to learn these lessons from home.
TEKS and standards are important. But life skills are SO much more important. The economic system allows me to manage behavior, but more importantly, teach these kids lessons about money. In my classroom they have the opportunity to fail without any real consequences. I want them to make poor choices where I can coach them and support them instead of in real life with real money.
I am proud to say that this behavior system DID increase students behavior but also their awareness of money and spending habits.
According to the research….
So, as you can see in the graph above. I conducted research for ten weeks and over the ten weeks, the amount of students who paid rent on time increased while the amount who purchased items from the store decreased because they were saving their money!
Okay, that’s it for the boring stuff. Thank you for allowing me to share with you. All my hard work on that research project has now paid off for more than just that “A” I received.
So let’s start at the beginning:
Students can earn money two ways.
Behavior- When a student is working hard, doing their work, walking in line quietly, etc. I reward them with $1. Sometimes up to $5 if they are doing something really awesome like picking up trash in the classroom voluntarily.
Classroom jobs- All my students have classroom jobs. That is a really big part of this economic system. I talk about my classroom jobs in this post.
Students get paid every Monday for their classroom job. I pay them $10 for their job each week. In Esquith’s book he talks about paying kids according to their job. I think this is great, but let’s be real. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
If a student does not have a job that week, I pay them $5 for just being there. They need money to function in my classroom so I think of this as their “welfare” ;). (PS- I don’t call it that to them)
On Wednesday I allow students the opportunity to go to the store. They can choose from an assortment of items that we brainstorm at the beginning of the year.
Here is a picture of my classroom store from my first year. You can see I have simplified as the years have gone on.
Here is where the real learning happens.
On Friday, my students are expected to pay rent for their desk. I charge them $5 for their desk each week. If they are not able to pay me their rent money, then I automatically deduct it from their “check” on Monday + $1 in interest.
True story: The first year I did this I was in third grade and had a little girl who refused to pay rent. But by golly she had everything you could buy from the store. (I’m not gonna say where she learned this from…but I’m just gonna say she came every day in the most darling outfits and her smart phone tucked away in her backpack.) So after three or four weeks of not paying rent and being charged interest, I took that girls seat away. I asked her what would happen if her parents didn’t pay rent each month for their house. “Well…they’d get kicked out.”
Mmmhmm…I’ll take your chair now, ma’am. Thank you very much.
I took it from her for less than half a day. But the message stuck. That girl did not miss rent once for the whole rest of the year. She even invested all of her money in the “Classroom Bank” and instead EARNED interest on her money in the bank instead of paying interest on her late rent.
Students even have the opportunity to buy their desk. This is a HUGE concept for kids to grasp. Once they purchase their desk they no longer have to pay rent. This helps reinforce the concept of saving money for “big things” instead of spending money on every little thing that peaks their interest. After a kid buys their desk and they aren’t paying rent, they are earning an extra $5 each week because they are not spending it on rent. I have even had students purchase other desks and EARN $5 each week from rent money. Talk about a life lesson!
Now I know that in real life even if you own something, you still have bills and a mortgage to pay, but that’s too much for second grade. If I taught fifth or sixth, I would incorporate this into the system.
And then sometimes this rent thing gives great opportunities for persuasive writing topics.
(His letter worked. I lowered rent from $7 to $5 each week.)
When I was in third grade I gave the kids a check register to keep track of their money. I don’t do it in second because I think it is too much. I stapled it into their Math Journal. When they would get paid on Monday, it was their responsibility to record that in their check register. They would also record the money they spent at the store and on rent.
Along with the check register, I listed a couple of short questions asking their opinions on spending money. This was mainly for the research aspect but it was also really enlightening and helped me know what I needed to reinforce with my students.
I introduced this by reading economic books to the students and discussing key vocabulary like spending, deposit, withdrawal, interest, etc.
These conversations brought up the topic of banks and how they work. I actually had my third grade class request a bank so that they could invest their money! I was floored. This was something I never even anticipated! Again, it was third grade so I kept it easy. Students could earn $1 in interest each week for their money in the bank.
I still use the bank in second grade but have not yet introduced earning interest. However, when students bring me money to put in the bank I require them to say things like “I would like to deposit money into the bank.” Or if they are taking out, “I need to withdraw money from the bank.” I am reinforcing those Personal Financial Literacy TEKS all throughout the year.
Eco + Behavior Management System Packet
I am super proud of my economic system. I think it is so valuable and my kids LOVE it. They are usually most excited about going to the store and they NEVER let me forget about it.
If you believe in the importance of teaching your students about money and personal finances, I would encourage you to implement an economic system in your classroom. Start out small, pay kids for their behavior and let them buy items from the store. This alone is huge! Especially for those kinders and firsties!
As you progress through the year, add different components. First the concept of rent. Then you can introduce the bank. If you teach an upper grade, I would recommend using the bank and allow students to earn interest based on a percentage of the money invested in the bank. You will be teaching SO many concepts here; financial literacy, financial terms, percentages, spending habits, interest and on and on and on.
I have put together this packet to help you implement a classroom economic system. Included in this packet is classroom money, check registers, classroom reward ideas, surveys for the students, and even classroom checks to teach your students how to properly fill out a check.
I also have some more specific information about how to get started with this including an implementation plan to introduce your classroom economic system week by week.
Other Management Systems
I briefly mentioned at the beginning that it is important to have a whole group and small group management system in addition to individual. This post was mainly focused on the individual but I wanted to quickly share a couple of ideas for the other two.
One option is to use a marble jar. I share more about how I use my marble jar in my post on classroom management tips.
I have also seen teachers make a chain with construction paper strips. Each compliment they get is a link on the chain. When the chain reaches a certain length, there is a class reward.
Table Points are super easy and effective. Make a chart with a section for each table. When they are the first to line up, get picked up, they are sitting quietly, etc. they earn a point. When they reach five points they can earn some sort of reward. I never have my kids compete against each other. For instance, if table one makes it to five points first, they get their points erased and start over. I don’t make all the other tables start back over when one table reaches the goal. Some tables don’t stand a chance, ya know? 😉
I have loved spending my first series talking about Classroom Management with you! This is one of my favorite parts of teaching and I love coaching others on it. I’d love to hear about any classroom management tips (or even questions) you may have in the comments below!
To catch up on all this month’s previous posts, you can click below:
Next month I will be starting a new series entitled “Student Materials.” See you then!
Until next time,