Behavior Management in the Art Room

I was a lucky ducky this year and got to spend a day observing the Missouri Art Teacher of the Year. She was so much fun to watch, her lessons were great and her relationships with the kids were awesome. But the single most helpful thing I took from that day was her classroom management system for behavior. I immediately tried it out in my classroom (that was in October) and it stuck, and has worked all year for grades K-8.
Here's the overview:
Each table has a number, which is a team. When the team is following procedures (comes in quietly, looks at the teacher when I ask for their attention, cleans up in a quick and orderly way, etc.) they earn a star. At each of these times, all tables have a chance to earn a star. I give "bonus stars" when certain tables are following directions when perhaps the others are not. That is a bonus for resisting peer pressure! Lol! I also give bonus stars to tables who are working at an appropriate voice level while working at certain checkpoint times, and to tables who went above and beyond when cleaning up (for instance, picked up all of the little paper pieces under the table left by the prior class).
As you may have suspected, teams can lose stars as well. Star loss is caused by the team arguing, being disruptively loud, not cleaning up when it's clean up time, etc. There is a lot of pressure from the other members of your table if you are to blame for losing a star! I do give one verbal warning before a star is lost. On that note, I put more focus on GIVING stars for positives rather than removing stars for negatives. Example: "I like how tables 2 and 3 are all sitting in their seat working quietly, they have both earned stars." If the other tables happened to be especially obnoxious, I would give them a warning at this time too.
So, what happens if your table has the most stars? At the end of class, right before lining up, we have the ceremonial counting of the stars. The table with the most stars gets to pick out of my prize tub (picture below) and the runner up gets to line up first, followed by whichever tables came in 3rd and 4th.

With all of these classes, how do you afford to keep a prize tub stocked? If you're like me and have zero budget for these things, then you have to get creative. It's important to remember that kids are easily impressed with things that you and I take for granted. Like pieces of scrapbook paper that they can use as a bookmark or incorporate into their artwork. Here's a list of things that have appeared in my prize tub this year:

  • colored or spiral paperclips
  • pieces of scrapbook paper
  • free-draw paper
  • foam stickers
  • die cuts (like you can find at Dollar Tree for a pack of 25/$1)
  • sticker sheets, cut into many pieces to make about 3-4 stickers per piece
  • bookmarks (25 for $1 at Dollar Tree)
  • ANYTHING that you find in your desk that you think any of the kids might like... it'll surprise you.
For the older kids, I give them an option to get a "Free Time Ticket" which can be collected and a certain number traded in for a free class period.
Also this year, I gave the kids a chance to exchange their prize for an entry into the drawing for the big paper mache dinosaur that I made during Dino Month. It was a hit! I also had runner-up prizes (rolls of ribbons and supplies that we no longer needed).
Next year I'm doing an all-year drawing for a model car that I have used for still-life drawing in past years. They're really excited!


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