Thursday, January 17, 2013

Task Charts

I have a 2nd grade student who needs tangible reinforcers, and an 8th grader who only wants verbal praise or a smile in his direction. Another student, this one a 3rd grader, is obsessed with stickers. Lucky for me, I don't have these kids all in the classroom at the same time, but what if I did? How do you handle behavior for students, whether they have special needs or not?

All teachers at my first job used the card system. Green was good, yellow was okay and red was BAD. A good visual, but I never really liked it. The next two years were a whirlwind of changing policies mandated by the school. Don't you hate that? I felt like as soon as I implemented something, I learned that it was wrong and I should have been doing it another way. I'll stop there, because this rant could go on forever :) My point is, I never felt like what I did was working. It wasn't functional for me or my students. Hallelujah for the University of Cincinnati. (I wanted to attend University of Alabama online, but they weren't offering the courses I needed. Roll Tide anyway!)

This past summer was an eye opener. I took a course in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) and learned more than my head could hold. Some things I'm still confused about, but I took more away from this class than I have any other. The main concept I learned, and one I try and remind the general education teachers of daily, is that we have to be specific when setting a goal, and when the student meets that goal, he or she must be rewarded. Having "be good" on a behavior plan is a little ambiguous. What does the child need to do in order to "be good?"Should he/she reduce outbursts in class to less than 10 or 20 times? Does the student need to only ask for a restroom pass twice a day? You decide that goal, but decide it with them. Also, if the child does what you ask, reward them! Sure, Susie may have written her name in crayon, but she met her goal of coloring within the lines on two worksheets per day. She did what you asked, so praise her! Let her choose from a reward menu! Too many times we get so bogged down with the negatives that we forget to focus on the baby steps these kids are taking.

I have used all kinds of behavior/task charts with my students this year. For example, my second grader, C, had to complete two tasks before lunch without redirections, and two tasks after lunch without redirections. Each task completed according to the written plan meant a smiley face could be colored in on his behavior chart. Every colored smiley face I saw at the end of the day was exchanged for a crayon. This went on for a few weeks until C received a whole box of neon crayons. We have upgraded to a more sophisticated behavior chart, one that will transition with him to 3rd grade. This time, each check C receives earns a letter of the word "Spiderman." After we spell it out completely, C will go back to his classroom with an official movie folder.

Initially, I start with one task or goal, but as the year progresses the student can have two. Think about the kids you have. Would they benefit from something like this? If you think so, try it! Writing a behavior plan is not difficult, and can be done for ANY child. Help your students set goals that will make them better citizens. If you have questions, feel free to ask!

Go to my Teacher's Notebook Shop to purchase this item. There are three sheets. Two are writable PDFs so you can customize it to fit your needs!

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