One of my first day of school procedures is the supply caddies. Keeping the caddies organized and putting supplies up is a behavior that should not be assumed, but taught and positively reinforced.
Step 1: Teach the Expected Behavior
I start by having each table dump the contents of the containers out. I ask them to identify what they see-glue, giant eraser, rulers, scissors, highlighters, protractors, compasses, etc.
I draw a two dimensional layout of the caddie on the whiteboard and ask them where they think the best place for the given tools should be. Some students will try to change it up, but after a discussion students come to an agreement that the original placement is best. This gave my students that sense of ownership for where the tools should go.
I then have students place the items one at a time in the baskets making sure that all students participate in the placement of the tools into the caddies. (Not hard, because all students want to touch and play with the tools.)
Step 2: Positive Reinforcement
I look for students demonstrating the proper procedure and behaviors and use a three step acknowledge approach.
1. Say the student's name.
2. Thank them for the appropriate behavior and procedure.
3. Finish by identifying the specific task.
Example: "Sean, thank you for closing the glue and putting it back in the right spot. I appreciate that."
Trust me, it's not silly or a waste of time. In the seconds it takes to identify that behavior, I have praised a student, set an example, identified a positive behavior, and hopefully corrected the negative behavior being done by Katie next to him.
It usually works because students become my supply caddie monitors. I'll see students correcting their neighbors poor behavior and demonstrating the correct procedure.
Step 3: Make a Quick General Statement
Sometimes, the positive reinforcement is above their heads; so, I'll make a general statement to the class. I only acknowledge the behavior for a quick second, and then I will thank the student for the positive behavior demonstrated.
My least favorite behavior is the slapping of ultra flex rulers. I thought by using ultra flex rulers I would avoid the wooden rulers spinning on the end of pencils scenario. Instead, I introduced another fun behavior-slapping, bending, rolling, etc of the ultra flex rulers.
General statement: "Thank you for putting the rulers back in the baskets." And I keep teaching. Most of the time, either the students corrects their negative behavior or their neighbor elbows them.
Step 4: Make a Quick Specific Statement
I definitely have this one kid that is oblivious to all things unless specifically addressed with an explicit statement.
Example: "Dawn, scissors down please, thank you." OR "Dawn, thank you for putting the scissors up."
I have found that when I thank students for a behavior I expect to see, they comply with a smile. However, if I order a student to do something, it has a negative affect.
Another trick of the trade is to provide them with a reason.
Example: "Fred, thank you for closing the glue. We wouldn't want it to dry out and use your project/supply money to replace it." (They hate wasting their project/supply fund.)
Step 5: Reteach the Expected Behavior
Sometimes, a student needs to be retaught an expected behavior. I usually keep them after class for the few minutes it takes to:
- check and close all glue bottle lids for the classroom
- dump out and reorganize the supply caddy for their table
- demonstrate the appropriate behavior for handling a specific tool
I have only had to do this a few times.
Another behavior I have had to deal with is writing on my tables. A student thought writing on the tables was allowed. I held him after class and had him clean all tables to show him the lengths I go through to keep tables clean.
Added Note: I have been called a supply nazi, which is not appropriate; but I know, they know I mean business.
I never let an inappropriate behavior slip without identifying and providing them with the expected behavior.
CRAP! say "Stuff!"
Shut-up! say "Hush my angel!"
Student throws a pencil to another. I make them redo the exchange by handing the pencil to each other.