Awesome Teachers Incorporate Group Behavior Management (GMTT – 11)

Group behavior management has taken some “hits” recently. The teachers I have interacted with have become worried about embarrassing a student, creating an avenue for bullying, or creating more bad behavior from being called out. However, research continually shows that group behavior management is a powerful motivator. Not only do they help with general behaviors, but they also motivate academic performance too. Choosing to take out whole group behavior management (or group contingencies) is taking away a powerful tool in your classroom.

What It Does For You

  • Increases motivation.
  • Reduces the amount of time the teacher spends on rewarding students.
  • Creates a powerful group culture.
  • Allows you to manage and motivate the whole class simultaneously.

How To Do It

  • Be careful as you research different options. Some options (such as visible clip chart that students move based on behavior) call out students all day long.
  • Be ready to change these and vary them. (maybe start with the clips and then only use them for when visitors are in class)
  • In order to do a true group contingency, make sure to create an aspect that involves everyone working together. For instance, if you use the behavior clips, make sure to have a reward if everyone is on green. (or whatever color you choose)
  • Additionally, I highly recommend coaching students how to help struggling group members. Creating a list of ways to react when another group member is hurting the whole group contingency is a great way to keep students focused. These could be ignore the behavior, giving a KIND reminder, being an example of desired behavior, etc.
  • Group contingencies should be avoided on new material or on anything that students still need lots of guidance with.
  • Don’t be afraid to create a highly motivating reward. You can always scale it back later.

Examples of Whole Group Behavior Management Ideas

  • One option is to pick one student to preform a specific behavior for a set amount of time, and then the entire group reward is based on that student’s performance. I generally wouldn’t pick this option unless in a very specific situation (if I know a student likes a challenge and attention). I personally would also make sure the expectation is VERY attainable.
  • A second option is by creating a group expectation (set a behavior, a time, or a specific work result), and then randomly call out a student’s work to examine. This particularly works when teachers periodically rig the selection. When the kid who typically struggles finally gets the expectation, praise that student with more energy than typical.
  • A third type of group behavior is creating a situation where every student is individually responsible for the group goal. A great example of this is if you get 7 out of 10 problems correct, you can choose an independent activity.
  • My favorite type of group behavior management is by requiring all students in the group to meet a specific expectation before the whole group can receive the reward. I like to ensure the goal is attainable by all, create specific ways group members can support and cheer for others, and make sure students have a way to try again fresh (whether it’s the next day, or class period, etc.). In small groups I like to have students earn specific amount of “effort points.” Sometimes if I have a particularly tricky group, I allow the rest of the group to move on without a student. Or I create a different goal for each student. Then everyone simply needs to meet their own goal.
  • A last way to involve the whole group is by creating a group performance expectation, and then averaging a random selection of student’s performance. If the average is greater than the goal, everyone gets the reward. This allows more wiggle room for a diverse range of learners.

Wrapping It Up

Group behavior can be a very positive experience in the classroom. This made the list for easy things to add to the classroom, because it takes no resources. Use the tools in your current room as rewards! Create a goal that you are already expecting from students! When teachers feel confident using these skills, it can be used a powerful tool!

Make sure to check out my other short posts on behavior management: Walking Around The Room, Using Precision Requests, and Positivity Lists.

Let me know if you have problems with group contingencies or have one that your love!

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