I always tell my students when I first meet them that I have eyes in the back of my head; all teachers do. I also tell them that the fire alarm is a camera straight to Santa’s Workshop. He is always watching. I’m pretty sure they believed me too as they sat up a little straighter, folding their hands a little tighter. Unfortunately, I don’t have eyes in the back of my head, nor is Santa watching diligently over my classroom from the North Pole. All I have to rely on are my own two eyes, and my oh so trusty traffic light.
What is a traffic light doing in my classroom, you ask? The traffic light system is what I use to manage my students behavior; anywhere from horrid to exemplary. It’s simple really. I created a paper traffic light using black construction paper which I glued large circles in red, yellow, and green to. At the very top I placed a large blue star. The idea is – all students start the day on blue. Blue is excellent. Each time they break a rule, I would move down a clip with their name on it. Green meant they had one verbal warning, yellow meant they had to go “take a break” in the time-out chair (or silent lunch in some cases), and red meant that they continued to break our rules so a note was sent home. At the beginning of each month, a calendar was stapled inside each students’ folder. At the end of every day, I would mark their calendar with a dot or a star with the color they were on at the end of that day. This way, parents were informed daily of their students’ behavior.
This entire monstrosity I called a traffic light was taped to the wall in the back of my classroom, only accessible by snowmobile or helicopter. Well not really, but it did mean you had to climb over students, tables, chairs, etc. to get to it. In other words, truly an inanimate object. So this year, I am turning my yard stick into my traffic light, making it come to life; officially mobile and much more useful.
The idea of the traffic light yard stick is the same as before, students’ clips are moved down when a rule is broken. Except now my students are held accountable for their behavior whether they are with me in the classroom, in the cafeteria, or in specials with their music, art, or gym teacher. I also plan on using it to herd cattle, and lead sheep to greener pastures.
Now remember, the traffic light yard stick is not intended to be used as a weapon. Also, if you envision yourself using it to usher your students along quicker in the hallway while shouting, “MUSH!” Then this probably isn’t for you.