Are you looking for ways to improve positive student behavior and easily communicate with parents daily? Check out these behavior management and parent communication ideas from the Clutter Free Classroom including behavior plans, logs, charts, notes, forms, apps, sheets, tools, websites, and posts.

As a classroom teacher, you know that in order to teach effectively, it is important to set clear expectations and establish consistent procedures and routines. Once those are in place, it is helpful to have a plan for managing student behaviors. Do you have a plan that is working for your group of students this week or month? It is good to often switch up the behavior system you use to keep it fresh and motivating for your students. Read below to learn more.

This blog post will…

  • suggest strengths and weaknesses of the clip chart behavior system
  • offer an alternative behavior system to a clip chart
  • provides a helpful resource for behavior management

Before We Begin...

I assume you are reading this because you are interested in improving your overall classroom management. I encourage you to grab this free resource:

Clip Chart

I do love the clip chart and out of all the systems I have used (and I have tried many over the years) it was by far my favorite. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to any teacher. I find it fairly easy to manage and it does provide quick results. I love that it reinforces positive behaviors and can be transported to specialists, recess, etc. I think that carry over throughout the day is very important. This is especially true if you are departmentalized and the students travel to different teachers.

Why I Stopped Using the Clip Chart in my Classroom

  • Kids Perspective: First, and probably most importantly, I noticed my son would say things like, “I had to be math partners with ___ and I didn’t like it because he is always on red” or we would run into a classmate at a store and he would say to my husband, “That’s ____ she’s in my class. The teacher likes her because she never moves her clip down.” Hearing a student’s perspective outside the classroom was eye-opening. His words told me that kids, be it good or bad, define each other by their status on a behavior chart.  After putting this on my radar, I noticed several small indicators in my own class that confirmed it to be true...knowing glances when someone moved a clip, an collective gasp when a student who usually clipped up over and over and over was told to clip down...things like that.
  • Confidentiality: I had avoided using names on my chart because I didn’t want parent volunteers to be privy to the “status” of other students and instead used numbers.  But, let’s face it, the numbers are not exactly a top secret code. Technically this is “data” and I do feel it should be kept confidential. 
  • Inaccuracy: I liked that the clip chart provided students with the opportunity to “clip back up” and avoid parent contact because I do think it helped students “pull it together.” However, I don’t think it offered an accurate overview of the day to parents. If a student is clipping up and down all day everyday then it will be reflected on his report card as a conduct grade. But is it fair to provide a less than stellar grade on a legal document without keeping the students’ families “in the loop” on the day to day stuff?
  • Arbitrary: As I've mentioned before having strong routines and procedures in place and by being consistent, the need for a behavior plan sort of phases itself out. I don’t typically need to address behaviors much after we’ve been in school for 6-8 weeks because the students know the expectations and the room just sort of runs itself and everyone does what they need to do. Because of this I found that clipping up and down became more of a matter of opinion and “teacher mood.” It was too arbitrary and I felt that I needed something much more systematic and accurate.
  • Overuse: Lastly, because the chart is an effective behavior modifier, it is used in many classrooms at my school. By the time they got to me as third graders it had become a bit stale. Clipping up lost it’s “razzle and dazzle” because they had “been there/done that” for so long. I felt we needed to shake things up a bit.

Characteristics of a Good Behavior Plan

  • confidential 
  • can travel with the kids and carry over from the classroom to specials and back
  • provides effective feedback to the parents that was free from opinion
  • allows for positive reinforcement / feedback
  • enables me to track progress and have concrete data to back report card grades
  • easy to manage

Behavior Log

Ultimately, I decided to use a daily calendar/behavior log with numbers that directly relate to my expectations. Each student has a monthly calendar in his/her communication folder. It’s located in a space that is easy to access and easy for parents to see. I designed the calendar so that you simply need to fold it on the line and can insert it over the folder flap.

If a child is not “meeting a classroom expectation,” I quietly address it by verbally reminding him of the expectation that he is not following.

For example “You are expected to be on task during independent work time.” I then record the #7 on my whole-class chart. If the behavior continues I state, “I reminded you that the expectation is to be on task during independent work. Let's add it to your calendar as a goal to work on.” I then circle the #7 on my chart which signifies that I will be recording it on his calendar.

If the same behavior continues throughout the day, I add tally marks next to the number. This shows the parent what the child’s day looked like. In the event that a child exhibits repeated behaviors or demonstrates a behavior that is dangerous, destructive or considered to be "bully-like" they complete a goal sheet. The goal sheet communicates more about the incident to the family and most importantly it is in the child's words. This helps to eliminate the phone calls and emails that say "I want to hear his side of the story" or "__ says she didn't do anything wrong." It also helps to remind the child that we must all take ownership for our actions, but that we can all make positive choices.

I explain that because these are “expectations,” we don’t need to write on the calendar if they are doing what is expected. I don’t tie in extrinsic rewards because I think it is important for them to adhere to our established guidelines, not to earn a prize, but because that is what is expected of them as members of a learning community. I really like the message it sends.

This system provides me with data. It allows me to analyze specific students. I can pull them aside, have quiet/private discussions and work with them to set behavior goals. I provides the parents with a record of the day. I’m very happy with it overall.

I do think it is important to stress that this system works best AFTER the expectations have been clearly taught, modeled and time has been provided for them to internalize the procedures and routines within the classroom. For that reason, I intend to start the year with the clip chart.

I incorporate the language that I’ll be using with the calendars. Instead of saying, “clip down,” I will say, “You re expected to be on task during independent work time. Please clip down.” or...“Friends, we are all expected to respect our school. I noticed Kate took the time to put away some supplies she saw out of place. Please clip up Kate.”

I tell them beginning on day one that the clip chart will be our temporary tool for learning our procedures and routines, but that our goal is to be able to demonstrate all of the classroom expectations by ___ and at that time we will switch to a different method of tracking our progress. I have found that this is a very easy to manage and highly effective system to use.


Helpful Resource

This packet includes whole class weekly behavior tracking sheets (perfect for attaching to a clipboard and sending along to specialists as well as using in class), individual tracking sheets, student goal-writing pages and more.

Are you looking for ways to improve positive student behavior and easily communicate with parents daily? Check out these behavior management and parent communication ideas from the Clutter Free Classroom including behavior plans, logs, charts, notes, forms, apps, sheets, tools, websites, and posts.

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