Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Why I'm giving up the color charts

First let me start by saying I have never been a fan of the color chart. You know the one I'm talking about. The one where the kids start on green and move to blue for an great job or yellow for misbehaving. I tried it my first year and I failed miserably at implementing it. In fact, I gave it up 
Halfway through the year. Why? Because the kids who were always good we're always on green or blue, and the kids who struggled a bit more were always on yellow or red. Changing their color didn't change their behavior. I couldn't move Annie anymore for laying on the carpet when she is usually up not paying attention just because Duncan is always paying attention and if he did it, he would move to yellow...

I've been struggling with this battle for the past few weeks. How am I going to motivate these students and keep them accountable? What will I reward them, what will be their consequences? I knew it had to be something that wasn't too time consuming or demanding on me ( I already have enough I need to do and keeping up with 1 more thing is just not feasible). Then, I was talking with some great educators on Twitter...

"I don't use a system, I just build strong relationships, have high expectations, and teach my students them" is what they told me. "we have family meetings, learn to solve problems, and they don't want to feel that feeling they get when I am disappointed in them... They want to be happy, they want to make me happy, they want to have fun!" 

Intriguing... No incentives and no set in stone consequences (they need to be logical anyway - otherwise the students won't learn)

So, in true me form: I asked questions, I did research, I became more intrigued, I became energized!

If I spend even more time at the beginning of the year building our class family, helping students understand how our classroom should look like, feel like, in order for us to all be successful, if I taught them the true value behind compliments, a high five, a good grade, feeling confident...then we would all feel rewarded every single day without the silly stickers , pencils, or other things they may pick from the "treasure chest" that they play with for 1 day then forget all about tomorrow.  I want to create learners who are excited about school, excited about learning, and who feel that a "Great Job" is much more treasure than any tattoo they grab out of the treasure chest. 

Of course, kids will misbehave, kids will need consequences, I will need to solve problems and figure out how it best help my students...but this is a challenge I am ready to take on full force...because I believe that in the long run, this decision is going to make a long lasting, positive impact on my classroom and the lives of every student who steps foot inside my classroom.

I will be sharing my journey through this year with no "formal" behavior plan in my room. I hope you'll stop back, check my progress, and maybe I can energize and inspire you, too, to give up your color chart for good!


  1. That's so great, Ashley! I've never used a color chart, but have tried a lot of treasure chest-type stuff in the past. Last year was the first time I did without and I was really happy with the results - how much closer our class community felt and how we focused even more on working together. You may know about this already, but https://www.responsiveclassroom.org/ has some great resources! Best of luck~

    Carolina Teacher

    1. Thanks Danielle! It's reassuring to know that other teachers have done this and it's really paid off. I keep wondering how we have not crossed paths yet?? lol! :)


  2. In my almost 16 years teaching, I have always been uncomfortable with "behavior management" systems - especially ones that publicly shame such as color charts. Tomorrow morning, a co-worker and I will present an alternative to our school wide "discipline plan" (color chart). We tried to avoid the school wide plan as much as possible the past few years and finally feel we can ask to abandon it entirely. I am very excited as I think our principal will be supportive. (She came to our school last year; the school wide plan has been in place since before I came to the school 9 years ago!) I can't wait to read updates about your school year!

  3. You are on the right track, Ashley! I've been a teacher and mom for nearly 40 years now and I have never found gimmicky behavior management systems work well at changing behavior. I take that back, they work well at modifying teacher behavior! If I am doing more work managing the system than the child is, then there is a problem. I totally concur that taking time to set very clear expectations, practicing procedures, building class community, following through on reasonable and authentic consequences goes much further than charts, clips, and prizes. ~Denise