Behavior CODES Page 2 link

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I have been using the seating chart on the clipboard to keep track of my student's behavior for the past two days and have really noticed a difference in my class.

My first question is this: While marking a "T" for talking or an "O" for being off task, do you verbally tell the students you have put a mark by their name or is non-verbal, eye contact a better way to let students know?

In response to your first question, if you can get a student's attention without using your voice, everyone wins. You're talking less while not involving anyone else in your "conversation." A simple quizzical look, raised eyebrows, or any other non-verbal cues can go a long way to making a point.

Another thought would be to add a gesture with the pencil you're using for making the marks. With the child's attention, you could "write" a T in the air. (You'd have to make the cross on the T from right to left so that the student would see it the way he normally writes it.) The same thing could be done with an "O" for off-task. (Again, the letter would be formed "backwards"--in this case, clockwise--to make it legible to the student.)

By the way, I'm not saying you can't verbally tell a student to get back on task as you make the mark. But if you do, try to get close enough to the student that you can do it somewhat privately. I say somewhat because even if you use a soft voice, I can almost guarantee a dozen other students will hear your remark and think, "Good thing I'm on task."

Also, at the end of the day (or midday if the student has several notations) I have reviewed the chart with those particular students. A few students want to look at the the chart after school to see how they did. What are your thoughts on that? Should it be available for students to look at?

In a word: absolutely. One of the big advantages of the Behavior CODES program is that it makes students more aware of the issues that are interferring with their quest to become better students. After all, the first step in changing inappropriate behavior is becoming aware of the behavior itself. Showing students how they're doing--privately, of course--is not only a good thing to do, it often leads to a meaningful dialogue between you and the student.

Just bear in mind that the dialogue can't be one-sided. You shouldn't be doing most of the talking. Students are used to adult lectures and, for the most part, check out mentally as they wait for the adult to finish. Better to put the ball in the child's court and ask how the student plans to fix the problem(s) that are causing the codes to appear in the seating box. It's this kind of "what are you going to do to fix this problem?" interactions that can sometimes have the biggest impact.

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Posted on a Yahoo email group of adoptive parents:

"Have any of you encountered a classroom management program called ADOPT? I was shocked when my 11-year-old adopted son came home from school to tell me that he had been "adopted" by his teacher. Evidently this means that his behavior in class that day was not good and he needed to be punished (or at least "monitored"). I emailed the teacher who told me that they were using a new class management program by Rick Morris called ADOPT (an acronym for: not paying Attention, not following Directions, being Off-task, Playing around, not turning in assignments on Time). Am I overreacting to this?"

No. She's not over-reacting. She's merely expressing her concerns regarding the welfare of her son. In the thirty-one years I taught school, I was always most appreciative of the parents who brought these kinds of issues to my attention so that I could do something about them. After all, we both shared the same goal: helping children to achieve and succeed at the highest level.

And, true to form, I'm going to do something about this one.

Starting today, ADOPT will be removed as the title of the program and replaced with something less offensive. And that's an easy thing to do because the title of the discipline program I created is actually incidental and has nothing to do with adoption. It was just a clever--or so I thought--acronym to describe the five behaviors I was struggling to deal with one year.

So I'm going to rethink the acronym and come up with something harmless. Maybe we should have a contest and see who comes up with the best suggestion.

Off the top of my head, I'm thinking TODAY.

T = social Talking
O = being Off-task
D = not following Directions
A = not paying Attention
Y = Yelling (blurting, being too loud, etc.)

But, then, that's just a quick thought. I'll come up with something.

At the same, I've always pointed out to teachers that it wasn't necessary to use the behavior codes I used. My suggestion was to assess their class and figure out the one big behavior problem that was getting in the way and deal with that first.

Social talking, for example, is just one of many behaviors than can interefere with growth and development. In fact, social talking represents 80% of off-task behavior. A teacher who can successfully deal with that one issue is well on the way to creating a more effective learning environment for everyone.

Regardless of the specifics, I'd like everyone to know that I'm concerned about the perceptions and hurt feelings that have resulted from the inappropriate use of the word and will be taking steps to solve the problem.

Thanks for helping me to turn the ideas I share with teachers into better ideas.


Below is a link for a PDF
you can download that contains a brief but heartfelt response. Please feel free to pass it along to others who may have been offended.

ADOPT Response

Teacher Suggestions

WASTE is the acronym; we do not want to waste our education by the following:


Work missing or late
Attention misdirected or lacking
Social talking
Time not used well [ie, off-task behavior]
Evading Directions


Jennifer F.

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My students don't always sit in the same seats. They move around a lot. I'm wondering if a grid of names--as opposed to an actual seating chart--would work for the ADOPT program. I could make a spreadsheet in Excel that has the names of my students in boxes. I'm also thinking that I could put the names of the biggest offenders in the top row of boxes so that their names would be easier to find. What do you think?

I think what I almost always think: give it a try. Trying a new idea--or modifying an existing one--so that it will work better in your own classroom is one of the main ways you can become a better teacher.

The one big advantage of a seating chart, as I've mentioned before, is that it is easy to locate a student's space for recording a misbehavior code. Where you look in the room is where you look on your seating chart. However, if your students don't have a regularly assigned seat, the seating chart loses its advantage. And since there is no longer an advantage to the use of a seating chart, you are free to explore other ways to accomplish the same goal: easily record letter codes for students who are not complying with your classroom standards.

Thus, the idea of making a spreadsheet grid to use in the place of a seating chart is a good one. Whether the idea is actually going to work or not won't be known until you use it in the classroom. It's only by trying on an idea that you will truly know if the idea--or, in this case, the modification of an idea--will prove to be successful. And even then you won't know right away. You're going to have to live with it for a while. Very rarely does an idea I've created work perfectly the first time. It usually takes a bit of adjustment on my part before I've got the whole thing down to a workable model.

So, again, I suggest you give the spreadsheet grid a try.

I'm just not so convinced, though, that putting the names of the knuckleheads along the top row is the best way to go. While I agree it would certainly make it easier to write codes in their boxes, I'm concerned about the subtle influence it might create in the mind of the teacher. By placing certain names along the top row, you're adding to the bias--unintentional though it may be--of seeing these students in a bad light and, thus, create a system which is predisposed to citing these students more than the others.

I'm not saying that the students in the top row aren't deserving of more codes. After all, that's why they're in that row. I'm just concerned that their elevated status on the grid is going to make it more likely that they'll receive a letter code for something that might be overlooked for a student whose name is not as easy to locate.

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I'm not sure which way I should go with the ADOPT idea. Should I use a set of seating charts or the new grading sheet you made for secondary teachers?

Before I offer my recommendation, I'd like to point out that the grading sheet being referred to is mentioned in the Thoughts on Teaching link, "ADOPT for secondary teachers." (There's also a link for a downloadable version of the ADOPT grade sheet.) You might want to read that before you read the rest of this entry.

Hey, welcome back. Here's my recommendation: Give each one a try and see how it goes.

Now then, this may seem to you like a lot of unnecessary work. I mean, why can't Rick just tell me? He's never been shy about expressing his opinions in the past. Why hesitate now?

Well, since you asked, I'll tell you. I'm reluctant to suggest one over the other because there are too many variables involved to be able to confidently say, "Do it this way." Trying to predict what's going to work well in someone else's classroom, let alone my own, is something I just can't do with any guarantee of success.

Speaking of own classroom experience taught me over and over again that I needed to live with an idea for a while before I was able to figure out the best way to go. For an example of what I mean by this, you should read "Birth of a Notion," a post you can find on the Interactions page.

What I can do is point out the advantage of each method and then let you decide which one to try first.

The Seating Chart

The advantage to the seating chart is that where you are looking in the room is where you are going to look on the chart. This makes recording behavior codes an easy process. The student in the middle of the far left row who is off task can be found on your seating chart in the middle of the far left row.

The trade-off--and there's almost always a trade-off--is that you need a new seating chart for each day of the week. Five charts for each of six periods represents 30 seating charts. That's a lot of paper to keep organized.

Maybe you could try to record the codes for the week on just one seating chart. This will require that you write rather small. It will also mean that you won't be able to see progress--or lack thereof--from one day to the next. Unless, that is, you draw a / after the last code from the day before. Hmmmm. That seems like a lot of work.

Maybe you should have a separate clipboard for each period. You could keep them in the hanging file box mentioned below. That could work. But, once again, we're back to the original point. You won't really know until you've tried it for a couple of weeks.

The ADOPT Grade Sheet

The advantage to the grade sheet is that you can keep all of the codes for an entire week on just one sheet. This would make it easy to keep a sheet for every period on just one clipboard. That's nice.

The trade-off--there it is again--is that it's not as easy to record codes as it is on a seating chart. You have to scan for the student's name. And, honestly, if recording codes is a tedious process, you will eventually quit using the strategy.

Maybe you could list the students' names in alphabetical order by first name. (I know this goes against our teacher conditioning that everything is organized by last name, but bear with me a moment.) Seeing the first names of your students in alphabetical order will really reduce the tedium of locating a name in order to record a code. Vincent's not paying attention? Zoom to the bottom of the list and, bingo, there he is. Excellent.

Bottom line: Try both, live with each one for a bit of time, and see what you think. After all, it's your classroom which means it's your decision.


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