Step 6 Title

After years of classroom experiments exploring strategies to reform Beloved Rascals, here are our conclusions:

  1. The most irresistible student motivator rewards for improvement, not ability.
  2. Kids, including Beloved Rascals, learn the most when they have the most fun learning.
  3. The longer we talk, the more students we lose.
  4. Scolding increases classroom management problems.
  5. In place of telling students how to behave, we should guide them through entertaining practice of incorrect and then, correct behavior.
  6. The more we construct lessons that engage Beloved Rascals, students who are difficult to engage, the more powerful our lessons become for all kids.
  7. The more important value to teach our pupils, the personality transforming value, is Kindness.

 

Below are nine strategies for improving the behavior for all your students, with special focus on challenging kids. In many cases you won't have to progress beyond Tier 4, but employ the others if you have a herd of Beloved Rascals.

Super Improver If we have a classroom game that rewards for ability, top students loaf (because it's too easy) and bottom students quit (because they can't win. When we reward for improvement, every student, top to bottom, works hard to achieve personal excellence... because they are only competing against themselves.

IMPORTANT: the larger, more colorful your Super Improver (SI) display, the more powerful motivating for your kids. A tall, beautiful SI ladder featuring large student names is brain mesmerizing, as opposed to a cheesy, scrappy display lost in the corner ... same game, stunningly different student engagement.

After your class has played Super Improver for several weeks, and you've established the key principle that you're rewarding for improvement not ability, take a Beloved Rascal aside. Say something like, "I'd love to see you earn some Super Improver Stars. Here's a list of goals ... pick the one that you think would be easiest to improve ... and maybe you can win Stars!"

A sample list would include WBT Classroom Rules, as well as even easier tasks like sitting up straight, keeping eyes on the teacher, neater writing, speaking quietly, keeping hands behind back in line ... and so forth. Emphasize that you want your student to pick the easiest sill to improve ...thus making success more certain.

Explore Super Improver details here.
From the first hour on Day One, use the Scoreboard to motivate kids toward the highest levels of instructional achievement.

Think of the Scoreboard as a video game that nourishes social and academic growth.  When students treat each other with respect, efficiently follow classroom rules, perform transitions Wolf fast, stay on task, mark a positive tally.  Kids clap their hands, a One Second Party, and exclaim, “Oh, yeah!” When pupils break classroom rules, treat each other rudely, perform transitions Turtle slow, are off task, mark a negative tally. Your students quickly lift their shoulders, uttering a Mighty Groan.

Explore Scoreboard details here.
Too often, classroom rules are posted on the wall and are rarely referred to again.  Weave WBT rules through your day, rehearsing them, with gestures, first thing in the morning, after lunch, and each recess.  Amp up student engagement by marking rapid Wolf and slow Turtle responses on the Scoreboard. Reward individual students who increase their callback speed with Super Improver stars.

The more entertaining you make the review, the more your kids will delight in following the rules.  In addition, not surprisingly, the better your students know your guidelines, the clearer, and deeper, their understanding of your expectations.

Explore Classroom Rules details here.
When students have mastered our Classroom Rules, typically by the end of the first month, start Rule Call Out.  Randomly call a rule number (1-5, or Diamond) and kids respond with the rule and its gesture.

By the end of the second month, use Rule Call Out whenever a rule is broken. Use callouts to stop challenging behavior without halting the instructional train.  When a disruption occurs, announce the appropriate rule and hold up the number on your fingers. Students exclaim the associated principle and gesture. You will discover one of the marvelous blessings of teaching ... kids love to tell each other what to do.

To energize call outs, use the Scoreboard to record tallies for responses that are Wolf fast or Turtle slow.   For example, Jack continues to have a problem with Rule 2: "Raise your hand for permission to speak." He blurts out an urgent question, "What time's lunch?"  You raise two fingers and exclaim "Two!" Some kids respond, "Raise your hand for permission to speak." You note the tardiness of their response with a Turtle tally on the Scoreboard ... and then rehearse a few more times until their callback is Wolf speedy.

Replace scolding with Scoreboarding!
Wrong/Right Practice can be started a week or two after the beginning of Rule Call Out.  Ask kids to demonstrate Wrong (Turtle) behavior and then Right (Wolf) behavior. For example, ask the class to show how slow bones Turtles would open their books. Then, employing the Scoreboard as motivator, kids demonstrate how speedy Wolves open their books.  (Opening books so rapidly that pages might be torn is Gooney Birds ... no Gooney Birds in your class!).

Practice Wrong (Turtle) and Right (Wolf) routines for lining, up, entering the classroom, retrieving learning materials, moving to and from learning stations, asking questions, teaching a neighbor ... everything!  Reward improving students with Super Improver stars.

NEVER allow inappropriate behavior to go uncorrected. Whatever you accept, is what you'll get. Don't scold, rehearse incorrect and correct behavior with Turtle and Wolf tallies.

Backtalk Stopper! Say, "Let's see how we can improve our politeness. Tom, I'm going to ask you to sit up straight. You say, rudely, 'I am sitting up straight.'" Tom complies with pretend backtalk. Then say, "Let's do the same thing. But this time, when Tom backtalks, I'll say Five! You exclaim, 'Keep our dear learning community happy!'" You ask Tom to sit up straight. Tom starts to reply with pretend backtalk, but you interrupt him with "Five!" Kids proclaim, "Keep our dear learning community happy!" You've demonstrated that when backtalk occurs, the class joyously supports you ... even Tom's homies will merrily put him in place.
As a powerful Beloved Rascal reformer Put a Flight School Box in the upper corner of your whiteboard. Add the day’s target behavior … in this case Rule 1: Follow directions

When you note kids slacking on the target, look away, wave your hand in their direction, say “Some of my friends need Rule 1 practice in Flight School.” Look away so kids wonder who you're talking about and Beloved Rascals' fuses remain unlit.

Put an X in the box for each kid that needs practice.

At recess (or whatever time you choose) kids repeat the rule gesture. They need to rehearse for 15 seconds. Every few weeks, increase practice by 15 seconds to a maximum of 120 seconds.

Rationale: kids don't need punishment or a time out. They need to embed target behaviors into their motor and visual cortices!
After a month or so, replace Flight School with Practice Cards, one of our earliest and most successful techniques for improving student behavior.  Note our strategy thus far: reward individual improvement with Super Improvers, nourish team growth with the Scoreboard, review the classroom rules until kids are ready for Rule Call Outs.  Practice the Wrong and Right way to behave in class, institute short rule rehearsals with Flight School and then longer rehearsals (see below) with Practice Cards. Put up a pocket chart with each student's name. When you see a rule broken, put a White Card in the student's pocket. The student practices the rule gesture for two minutes at recess. Never assign more than two white cards per student per day. Increase the practice time by increments of 10 seconds per week to a maximum of three minutes.


After several months, add Purple Cards when you see a student steadily improving in their rule behavior. A Purple Card cancels a White Card and earns the student a Super Improver Star to give to an improving classmate!
To continue to polish the behavior of your Beloved Rascals, say something like this to your class, “As you know, one of our most important rules, is Rule 4, ‘Make smart choices.’ Because I want you to have lots of Smart Choices practice, I’ll occasionally ask you a question about yourself outside of class. It’s your choice, of course, how much to answer and how long we talk. But I do encourage you to chat with me because I think it would be a Smart Choice if you help me, your teacher, know more about who you are.”

Open the Door to your Beloved Rascals by asking them leading questions. Before anything else, with resistant learners, you must establish a relationship that doesn’t involve scolding. Praise your Rascals for small signs of positive behavior; learn about their interests; praise their cool shoes but also, ask Open the Door questions.

Here are five suggestions. The last one is Surefire:
How are you doing today?
How’s life at home?
What part of class do you like the best?
What’s your strongest (weakest) subject?
Did you see "Batman Goes to Mars?"
Find out your student’s favorite video game … then play it …and ask for advice.
Our most popular cure for rascally behavior, use for 20 years with challenging kids from coast to coast! Place a large bullseye in a prominent place in the room. Cut out your Emo Turtle and Ultimas Falcon. Let kids wonder for a few days what's up. In reply to questions, say, "This is a game I'm going to play with a few friends."

When you're ready and there are no distractions, invite a rascal to play Bullseye.
In a one-on-one session explain the scoring system; 1 is worst behavior (Turtle); 5 is best behavior (Peregrine Falcon). With your rascal, role play behaviors 1-5.
At the end of the day, you and the rascal (privately, no peeking), write down the rascal's scores, then compare them.
If the rascal's score matches yours, the student wins two Super Improver stars. If the rascal's score misses your score by one, the rascal wins one Super Improver star. Larger misses, no stars, play tomorrow.

Rationale: the power of the Bullseye Game is that is rewards for honesty, for taking responsibility for actions ... rare even in adults!

When the rascal self-scores low, ask, "What's going on at home? ...a wonderful opportunity to strengthen your bonds with your troubled child.

The only way the game is ever conned is that some rascals misbehave in class, then are "honest" about their negative behavior, thinking they won two stars. When you see this pattern, you say, "You're now ready for Level 2 Bullseye! No credit is I ever score you a 1! Welcome to my world, little friend."
During student meltdowns, rolling on the floor, crying, out of control behavior, the traditional antidote is to offer a pair of choices, either of which the teacher finds acceptable. "Jack, would you like to go sit in Cozy Corner or play with Tommy Teddy Bear?" The problem is that too often Jack wants neither. A less traditional strategy is to ignore Jack's screaming, not give him the attention he craves, and loudly praise another kid's mellow behavior. If either of these works for you, read no further.

WBT's preferred strategy is to incorporate Star Dice into the daily routine. Say every morning, "Raise your hand if you're feeling sad or a bit upset (assess hand raising). I'm sorry you're not feeling better (name names). Come to me at recess and play Star Dice for as long as you wish." In more challenging circumstances, ask for a show of hands several times a day ... or prior to any exercise you've learned is likely to trigger meltdowns.

At recess, students decide if they are one Turtle, two Turtle, or Three Turtle upset (mild to extreme). They then jiggle the sealed Star Dice cup until one, two, or three fives appear. It doesn't take long before kids discover that rolling more than one five is quite a trick. Nonetheless, Star Dice jiggling is engrossing, a small, hypnotic, entertaining challenge. When the requisite dice are rolled, the student wins one, two, or three stars to give to an improving classmate! Thus, the antidote for being upset is to act kindly toward, bond with, another student.

The more often you encourage children to self monitor their emotions, play Star Dice, and bond with other kids, the fewer, and less severe, the meltdowns.

When the Star Dice game is well established as an entertaining, rewarding activity, offer three choices during a meltdown: "Would you like to stay here with us, go to the Time Out Chair, or the Star Dice Table?" If the Time Out Chair is non-cozy, barren, and the Star Dice Table is colorful and inviting, you may be able to sidetrack meltdowns into mesmerizing dice jiggling that wins stars for classmates.