CHOICE BOX-DISCIPLINE METHOD (My speech to parents at Orientation)
* Note the square on the back whiteboard. It is labeled "Choice Box" and this is my method of discipline in the classroom.
* I give one warning for behaviors that are not 'good' choices. If they do not heed the warning, they will have to write their own name in the choice box. They are the only ones who can write their name in there and they are the only ones who can erase their name from there.
* When they write their name in the choice box, it means they lose 5 minutes of their recess or choice time, whichever comes first. If something happens at the end of the day, it carries over to our morning recess the next day. If they do something else, they may lose another 5 minutes of their recess. Occasionally, children can lose their whole recess.
* If they hit, kick, bite, push--there is no warning, it is an instant 'in the choice box'. . ...these instances are totally at my discretion and how I 'see' what is happening.
* I do operate on a very positive discipline approach, lavishing positives on each child frequently throughout the day.
* I do not yell or get angry, instead, I am simply very matter-of-fact.
* The students brainstorm rules with me the very first day. I simplify those to 4 rules. . ..1. Be Safe, 2. Be Kind, 3. Be Honest, 4. Be Curious and then we all sign them and they are hung on the wall to remind us to make good choices all day. These rules cover just about any situation that can arise.
* Make no mistake, the power of the choice box lies in the fact that your child must shoulder responsibility for his/her actions when they write their own name in the box. But, when they have served their time, I talk with each child and ask them if they know why they got their name in the Choice Box/how they might have avoided it/what might help them to avoid it next time---and then I ask them to try to do a better job next time...Then, they erase their name, the slate is clean and they have a fresh start. . . I hold no grudges.
* For the most part, my philosophy is that kindergarten is like Las Vegas, whatever happens in kindergarten, stays in kindergarten. I will not necessarily tell you about your child getting in the choice box, unless he/she is a frequent user. Even when I do tell you, it may be just to inform you that this has happened. Unless I tell you that there is an ongoing behavior that we need to work on together, I do not expect you to do anything more. Please trust that your child and I have a plan and are working on it.
* I also do not overuse the "Choice Box"--I will use other methods---I may have someone sit out from an activity if they are being too goofy and can't be in control. When this happens, they go to the library because I know they are "done for today". There is no make-up for the activity missed.
* I try to use natural consequences whenever possible. . .forget your coat-you will get cold, disrespectful to a parent--removed from the group, etc.
* The choice box will get used quite often at first as children test the boundaries and how consistent I am. As we become a close-knit community, it's use will diminish.
Note to my teacher friends at T.net:
Being consistent, giving only 1-2 warnings, following through-----all these will make any system work. I like the Choice Box because it is teacher-friendly, easy to use, quick and to the point and then gives children another chance to make better choices. Contrary to what many believe, children do not misbehave on purpose, many times they just don't know what they should do....sometimes they just lose their temper (if adults recognize the signs of this happening, we can head it off). PREVENTION is SO worth the effort. Design your schedule/lessons to take optimum advantage of children's natural curiousity and each group's stamina. Alternate quiet/active activities. Always think about how you can involve as many of a child's five senses as possible in each lesson---this helps them to retain knowledge and may reach a child on many different levels. Arrange your room so that you have quieter activities grouped together and noisier activities grouped together. Model, model, model, model what you want to see and then have several children model it.