My behavior management plan is constructed to help students take responsibility for their actions and to try to work out conflicts without excessive teacher intervention. I believe that learning to take responsibility and learning how to solve conflicts are two skills that are essential in helping students to become effective members of society.
The first thing I do at the beginning of each school year is to have a class meeting to discuss what our classroom expectations (rules) should be for that year. I find that when students are part of the rule making process, they are more apt to follow them. I continue these class meetings on a weekly basis to discuss any issues that are ongoing in the classroom, brainstorm solutions, and "tweak" expectations, if the need should arise.
Once the expectations are in place, I employ a positive approach to classroom discipline. With good behavior and work ethics, students are able to earn discussed rewards throughout the school year. In many classrooms, well-behaved and hard working students are overlooked because the teacher is using all of her energy on the child that is not behaving or working. By placing the emphasis on the positive, most students are eager to perform in the classroom. For the occasional misbehaving student, I have a list of consequences that I use after the first warning. The list starts off with a small consequence and gradually increases if the behavior persists. I find that these strategies keep disruptive behaviors to a minimum in my classroom and help to promote a positive atmosphere.
To help students learn to solve conflicts on their own, I have a Peace Table set up in a private corner of the classroom. If two students have a dispute, they go to the Peace Table to try to talk though their problems before asking for teacher assistance. At the beginning of the year, I have a job entitled "Classroom Mediator." Students rotate through this job position throughout the year. The mediator's job is to go to the Peace Table with the students and ask a list of questions to help the students work through the issue. Depending on the age of the students, puppets are also used to help the students express their feelings more comfortably. Table rules are posted and include: using kind words and "I" statements, listening as the other person speaks, working towards an agreeable solution, and shaking hands at the end of the process. I find that most conflicts can be solved at the Peace Table with minimal teacher assistance. The Peace Table process helps students improve their problem solving skills while working on their conflict resolution abilities.