Thursday, September 13, 2012

Behavior charts...do they really work?

Ever since Olivia started Kindergarten, there has been a lot of focus on her behavior and the behavior charts that are used in the classroom.. Every day she comes home with a certain "color mark" on her planner, which basically tells us how she behaved that particular day..
She seems to understand how the behavior chart works and most days she comes home on the "green", which means she did "ok" considering there are two more colors that are better than that...
Anything below green means she did below average or worse.. 
Now.. this is where my issue comes in... In the first 4 weeks of school she has come home with Yellow, Orange and Red on a couple of occasions in which case the teacher has written a little note below the mark briefly explaining what she did to deserved such color. 
Today she came home with a red mark (first time!) and next to it a little note read "Threw juice box across the room"... I know my child isn't the violent kind so before I pointed out the juice box incident, I asked her what she did wrong and she said "I don't know.. I was in the blue all day long and then I was down to red".. So I said "did you throw a juice box across the room?".. and she said "well, I was trying to throw in the trash can". Apparently she thought it'd be fun to try to dunk the juice box in the trash bag but the teacher didn't think it was such a great idea..but did she really GET it??


In speaking with Olivia, I realize she doesn't grasp the concept of the behavior chart and the whole color coding is just not sitting well with her, she thinks it's a game and is focusing more on what color she will get than she does in what she learned throughout the day...that's where I question these behavioral techniques...why is that more important than the daily lessons? Why is her behavior the main priority?
A chart will only be as good as a child can interpret it and if that child is getting a negative remark because of an isolated incident, then I don't think their behavior is being accurately interpreted...
If Olivia did well all day and even managed to be in the "blue" for the majority of the session, why would she get a "red" because of throwing a juice box, which in her mind was not intended as an evil act?  Why do these teachers focus on the negative instead of reinforcing the positive? Why don't they pay more attention to the actual lessons and curriculum?
I know I'm sounding like an annoying mom, but I'm just so fixated on these inefficient techniques modern teachers apply... I don't think it makes sense to "scare" a child with a color coding chart instead of promoting good behavior...and it's definitely not ok to shift the focus from learning to behaving..
Life isn't about colors or taking away privileges.. it's about learning what is good and what is bad...
I believe these behavior charts are silly and they don't relay the message that's intended.. 
I'm not a teacher (thank God!...I would have no patience), but I can tell you that teachers need to figure about better ways in which to get a child to behave in a classroom.. these charts aren't cutting it!
Also, teachers should spend more time teaching and less time punishing!
What behavior techniques do teachers use in your child's classroom??

4 comments:

Vanessa said...

Mackenzie's teacher also uses the colour chart (blue for WOW, Green for GOOD, Yellow for WARNING and RED for POOR CHOICES). The big difference that I can see is that she is basing the colour on the whole day and not a certain act - this is teaching her that she can choose to change her behaviour and make better choices. The focus is not only on the the colour but on teaching her about the power of choices and the impact of them. Mackenzie has acted out (crying, refusing to listen, not asking for help) but still come home with a Green. When I ask her about it - she says it is because she changed her bad choices to good choices. We have started to use the colours at home. I hope the teachers start to focus on the whole day for Olivia and not a moment. The juice box throwing seems like the perfect chance for that teacher to engage her and explain classroom rules and not label her RED. 5 year olds will naturally test limits and make it a game....I hope that she eases up as the year moves forward.

Adriana said...

I agree! I think the intention of the chart is good, but I don't think these teachers are taking the time to explain it or even bother to reflect their overall behavior. It's always based on one thing, rather than the day as a whole!

Meagan said...

I do not think you are being an annoying mom , I would be asking the same questions. It seems like a far fall from blue just for what happened . At our daughters' school they do a green yellow and red. My step daughters school also has orange in between yellow and red. My daughter Hailey who just started Kindergarten has been on green but my stepdaugter is often on yellow or red. When she explains herself she really doesn't understand what she did wrong and often is not informed why her color is being changed. They are all in public school right now. I am having my own issues with Haileys Kindergarten class because her class size is 30 with one teacher! I've already started the applications for private school next year.

Adriana said...

That's exactly my issue...the fact that she doesn't seem to understand why she is being assigned a certain color. I know Olivia is really smart and she would know if things were explained to her.
They go to private school and there are 2 teachers for 28 kids in the class, so I know they have the capacity to explain things to them, you know?
Also, it's a Catholic school so maybe they could also use God in their explanation...