Want to bring your behavior management game to a whole new level?!
Some people call it, “Beat the Teacher”, “The Good Behavior Game” but I’ve heard it called the Student vs. Teacher Game. A game you say, with classroom management? Oh, yes. It’s a thing. A really awesome game, that your students will LOVE to play.
So how do you play it?
Draw a scoreboard on the board. The board needs to be visible to all students and the teacher. It also needs to be easily accessible. You have to keep the game going.
Set the Rules!
Every good game has a set of rules. Prep your students with the rules of the game. The rules should be fairly easy for students to know/learn, as they should be the rules and expectations that you set for the classroom at the beginning of the school year.
To start the game you can tell students the following:
Today we are going to play a game! The Student Vs. Teacher Game. I am pretty sure I can win the game and beat you guys! What do you think? Here is how our game works, you get points for following our classroom rules and expectations.
Johnny raises his hand to be called on before he talks. Students get a point.
If everyone has quiet hands and feet. Students get a point.
If everyone has listening ears, students get a point.
Following directions? Students get a point.
How does the teacher get points?
When students are NOT following our classroom expectations. Not listening to directions? I get a point.
Talking out instead of raising your hand? I get a point!
Every time someone makes a mistake or forgets our classroom rules, I get a point.
I will be keeping my eyes peeled for all behavior positive or negative. So, if you want to win, you know what to do!
I typically like to give students a point or two while explaining the rules. This helps them to understand how exactly the game works. In the first five minutes or so of playing the game and teaching your lesson, be sure to find positive behavior to award them points for. Often if they can see that this game is one they are winning out, the positive behavior keeps snowballing.
For all you teachers who wanted to be actresses or actors, here’s your chance to really ham it up. The more you award positive points to students, the further behind you will fall. You can act disappoint and use your best acting chops to show your displeasure about the fact you are losing! You can taunt students a little, “I know you guys will eventually forget the rules, and I will start getting points and will win!” If you do spot a broken rule, give yourself a point. Get excited about it. Usually, students use this to improve their behavior even more! They want to win. Self-monitoring is a wonderful thing! You can get a little obnoxious about giving yourself even one point. If you do it right, they will hate to let you get even one point, so their behavior will continue to improve! Students love a little competition. Make sure you keep the score on board- so everyone can see it easily! Reinforce the behaviors you see when giving points. I see that Amelia is paying very close attention. Students get a point. Johnny- nice job raising your hand. Students get a point.
The Magic Rule
I’m sure some really smart people figured it out, but I can’t find the name of the person or persons who came up with this rule, or I’d give credit to them. The magic rule though is the rule of three. The rule of three states that we should identify at least three positive behaviors for every infraction we catch. This doesn’t mean you should let some behaviors slide. Catch all the infractions, but then catch three positive behaviors to keep reinforcing the good behavior.
Choose a reinforcement at the beginning of the game. If you win, you get (extra recess, free period, a short movie (if they win several days in a row! etc.) Giving them something to work for (besides beating you) will get them even more excited about wanting to win.
Don’t let the little misbehaviors slide. The higher your expectations the higher your students will rise to meet those expectations.
Don’t think that this game will only work with elementary kids. It works with students of all ages. Just find the right reinforcer for them to work for!
This game is hard work. Fortunately, though, it pays off. Your student’s behaviors will improve to the point that your lessons will all go smoothly, because of the high expectations you are practicing day in and day out!
You’ll probably lose. Sorry. But in the scheme of all things classroom management- you’re winning!