Tuesday, October 23, 2018

The answer was so obvious, but I didn't see it! (Classroom - or Lunchroom - Management)

You know what... I knew better. I taught science for 12 years, coached for more than that (including private pitching lessons), and I've been in education for 25 years. 

I know how to manage and change adolescent behavior... I just wasn't doing it in the lunchroom.

Each morning, we serve breakfast in our cafeteria. There are about 300 kids in the lunchroom, and it's a great time to see kids interacting in certain groups and interact with them as a school leader. 

But there was this one table. 

Each morning, they would leave trash on their table and on the floor under their table. 

It was normal that someone at the table would take a few bites out of a piece of fruit and leave it on the floor by the table. 

I got angry and frustrated that they were leaving a mess each morning. I talked to them, told them to pick up their trash. No one would admit to the trash, nor were they happy about picking it up. It felt like lose-lose both ways. They had to hear from me each morning, and I was frustrated that they weren't responding to my words. 

Then I had an aha moment. A breaking point. 

I told them that if they left any trash, they wouldn't be allowed to sit at the table. 

And... it happened. 

They left trash on the table and floor that day, so the next morning I arrived early and didn't allow anyone to sit at the last two sections of the table. Students would arrive, and other students would tell them they couldn't sit there. I was nearby and would make students move out of the designated area. 

I gave them a consequence that was tied to the undesired behavior.

My "talking to them" or "being stern" with them was not enough. I had to create a situation where they had to do something different. 

Since the "table banning," there has only been one occasion where trash was left by a student. I took a picture of the trash (yes, I'm that person), and the students told me who it belonged to (they didn't want to lose privileges of sitting at their tables.) The next day, I had that student pick up 10 pieces of trash at the end of breakfast. 

Since then, there has been NO trash left at the tables. 


Why didn't I think of it sooner and do what I knew to do - create a "consequence" that is related to the behavior? 

Rewards for students? Lots of smiles and praise each morning. 

Have you had to think creatively to help change student behavior? Share your examples below in the comments. I would love to hear from you!

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