Suggestions for Classroom Behavior Management for Second Graders

by Karen Hollowell

Second-graders, like most students, need to learn to obey rules and adhere to school and class guidelines. The teacher should begin the year with an effective classroom behavior management plan that results in a calm, orderly classroom routine with clear expectations, and appropriate rewards and consequences. Most children will thrive academically, socially and emotionally in an environment that is structured but allows them to learn through interaction and conflict resolution.

Positive Behavior

Second-grade teachers will usually have better results from their students if they enforce a positive behavior plan. This type of plan is based on clear communication between the teacher and the class during all phases of the discipline process. For instance, when the teacher presents classroom rules at the beginning of the year, they should be positively stated like "Respect your classmates' space and possessions," instead of "Do not touch anything that does not belong to you." Positive statements convey expectations. A long list of do's and dont's may encourage misbehavior as many children in second grade are beginning to test their limits with authority and engage adults in power struggles.

Behavior Documentation

Most second-grade teachers use some type of classroom display to keep up with daily student behavior. This can be as simple as a list of names on the board of misbehaving students with checks to indicate the number time someone has been reprimanded. The problem with this system is that some second-graders may like the attention they get, even if it's negative. A more effective method would be to designate a bulletin board or a section of the wall just for behavior management. Every student's name should be posted, and each will start the day with a happy face, green light or gold star. This will motivate more students to maintain this top status and not commit offenses that will require them to move to a lesser place on the chart.

Rewards and Consequences

Second-grade teachers can benefit from offering rewards beyond the traditional prize or sticker. They should offer incentives such extra computer or library time, homework passes, or the opportunity to help with special classroom chores such as running errands to the office. Consequences should include a progression system that allows children to see that they are responsible for their own behavior. All students begin the day at a certain point and can maintain their place with good behavior. Examples include the green, yellow and red light system or the four ticket plan. Each student begins the day with four tickets. If they have to pull one ticket, they get a warning. The consequence gets more severe for each ticket that is pulled in a day, ranging from time outs, walking laps at recess, to parent notification and office referral. Teachers can motivate the class to behave by offering a major reward for a cooperative effort. A suggestion on Mrs. Nelson's Class.com suggests that the class make a compliment chain made out of plastic links or paper clips. They get to add to the chain each time they get a compliment from another teacher. Students should be working toward a predetermined goal such as 50 links in order to earn a popcorn party or ice cream day. These long-range behavior management plans teach group accountability.

About the Author

Karen Hollowell has been teaching since 1994. She has taught English/literature and social studies in grades 7-12 and taught kindergarten for nine years. She currently teaches fourth grade reading/language and social studies. Hollowell earned her Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Mississippi and her Master of Arts in elementary education from Alcorn State University.

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