Kindergarten Teacher


Resources for Ditching the Behavior System

Screen Shot 2014-07-29 at 10.50.43 AM

This post is simply blog posts and resources I find that support getting rid of the color chart or behavior system. I keep hearing many people want to remove these systems but don’t know where to start or are forced to use them. Hopefully these resources will give you the inspiration needed to try it or give you resources to talk with your admin about removing them in your class. I will continue to update this post as I find resources! Please add resources in the comments and I will link them!

Blog Posts:

Confessions of a Former Rewards Addict

Put Your Name on the Board: A Tale of Why I Gave Up Classroom Discipline Systems

Moving Past Behavior Charts

Why I Will Never Use A Behavior Chart Again

Chuck the Chart Part 1: But Why?

Chuck the Chart Part 2: Behaviour is Like Reading…

Chuck the Chart Part 3: Talking to Your Administrator(s) 

Reward Free Year

I Lied, We Do Have Treasure

Be Brave: The Only Rule in my Class

“Behaviour Management” : Not systems, but relationships

Too high a price: why I don’t use behaviour charts

So I Gave Up Punishments and My Students Still Behaved

How Do You Reward Students When You Don’t Believe in Rewards


Punished by Rewards – Alfie Kohn

13 Responses to Resources for Ditching the Behavior System

  1. Roxanne says:

    Thanks for the great resources! What do you tell your parents at the beginning of the year? Last year I did this, and loved it, but … I had parents ask how were they going to know about how their child behaved if I didn’t write it in their folder or give them a color or check each day.

    • Matt Gomez says:

      Each child has a calendar in their folder. A smile face for the day means they had a typical kindergarten day. If need I write “see note” on the calendar day and add a sticky note to explain issues. Happens very seldom. Most of the time I will call or email parents if there are issues also. If the kids are having behavior issues I see that as much as my issue as theirs. What can we do together (parents and teacher) to support the child.

  2. jannike johnsen says:

    Hi, I can understand how behavior systems can be abused in a regular education classroom, but I teach students with Autism in a self contained classroom and have found behavior systems, using incentives, to be very helpful for some of my students. It is individually based, and not all-class, and uses incentives that work for that particular student. It changes as the school year progresses, and my goal is always for the incentive to be internalized. I have had great success in reducing harmful behavior as a result. But I will read all of these links so that I can be more informed. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Thanks so much for including my blog post in your list! I am glad to see so many teachers looking for alternatives.


  4. Thank you for this great resource. I am pinning it so I can enjoy it again and again

  5. Mrs. Ruoff says:

    I’m finally going to do this. Thanks for the great resources. It was the final push I needed. I will be brave.

  6. Julie says:

    I am so excited to be reading these articles…I haven’t been successful with a behavior system yet. My question is what do you do with those kids who continually break the rules? What kind of consequences do you have because there are consequences in life…like I always say to my students if I speed I might get caught and I will get a ticket. Also, do you do whole class rewards as an incentive? Thanks for your help!

    • Matt Gomez says:

      I do not have a whole class system either. The kids are given natural consequences, I don’t have anything set in stone for those consequences because it depends on the child, the behavior and the situation. For example, you throw a rock on the playground and you will probably be asked to sit out for a while. Knock over the trash can and you will clean it up. I don’t ever take away recess or play time unless the behavior happens during that particular activity. My class has a lot of expectations and consequences when needed, I just don’t decide those ahead of time.

      • Julie says:

        That makes sense..what about the student who doesn’t listen in class, shouts out, etc? How do you handle them?

        • Matt Gomez says:

          I handle each child/situation differently. When a child is acting out I think there is a reason. I would want to find out the why behind the behavior. Attention? Stressed? Lesson Engaging? etc etc. Rather than control that behavior I want to find the cause and work on that. Punishment does not fix behavior, only teaching does that.

  7. Mindi says:

    Excellent list of useful and inspiring blogs. I do understand why so many teachers and parents fall into the use of behavior modification reward systems as it seems to offer a clear and structured way of responding to events and directing actions.

    However, I never used it myself and would strongly advocate against it. I believe firmly that the responsibility for a child’s learning is first and foremost on the teacher’s shoulders. It is her primary responsibility to build a relationship with her kids that enables a natural engagement with learning.

    Children don’t need to be taught curiosity, desire for knowledge or willingness to explore. They have that. Behavior is best ‘modified’ not by punishment and reward but by finding ways to speak to the child’s interests and enthusiasm. Its hard work and requires, in many cases, that the teacher takes the trouble to re-educate herself – and the children’s parents.

    So yes, go for it. It might seem frightening at first if you are habituated to strict ‘control’ but if you hold back from new things because of your fear – what are you really teaching your kids, I ask?

    Great links. Thanks. I hope this encourages a shift away from behavior reward systems and back to more humane and responsive collaboration in learning between teachers and students.

  8. Dana Hilmoe says:

    I’m trying this, starting now. No traffic light in my classroom. Wish me (us) luck.
    We are a PBIS school so we have a positive program in place. I still struggle with how I am going to show consequences of behavior without my traffic light!

    • Matt Gomez says:

      You make it up as you go along. Focus less on the consequences and more on how to make the room/lesson more engaging and you will succeed. The best behavior management is a great lesson!

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: