Classroom Management Without Quieting Kids, Part 2: Dances and Happy Points
Earlier this spring, I wrote about teaching without quieting kids. I had just substituted in a class of unusual Kindergarteners. They were so disciplined that, with little encouragement from me, they used their class’s quiet sign to settle each other. My encouragement? Simply to give them a point each time they quieted themselves without my prompting. By the end of the day, the urchins had amassed 15 points.
When I wrote that blog entry in late January, I did not know that the youngsters had helped me to create a classroom management activity that would become synonymous with me, the Happy Points. I have since used happy points in over 15 classes and three schools, grades K-4. Now when students see me walking the class-of-the-day down a hallway, the onlookers probe, “How many happy points do they have?”
The district record was broken four days ago by some second graders (whose room is adjacent to previous record-holders): 22 points. I keep a list of classroom totals so that each group can compete with its school or grade level, as seems attainable. It’s fun for the kids and for me.
Kids’ eyes light up when I tell them that for five and ten happy points, I’ll do a “teacher happy dance.” For 15 points, THEY get to do a classroom happy dance (quietly). That’s the extent of the reward. A few seconds of physical joy.
“Are you subbing in our class on Monday?” “No, I’m in another room on Monday.” “Awwww.”
“Are we still the record holders?” “No, you got beaten by a class at the other school by one point.” “We still have two weeks of school. Can you come back?”
Considering how much time we teachers spend quieting our classes, it’s a big deal for the kids to take that responsibility. How empowering for them to see that they can manage noise themselves! It’s not just for the usual leaders in the room. Quiet kids can manage the process just as easily as chatty kids. In my next entries, I will describe the process, and note the benefits and challenges of this happy point process.