(Before reading this post, you may want to look back on a past post from January: Classroom Management with Marbles )
A while ago I posted about how I began to use marbles in my classroom for management reasons and how at the beginning I believed it to be an easy strategy to keep up with and to be motivating for my students. Today, I want to re-cap on how it went for the rest of the year. While it is a great management strategy, I don't believe I used it in the right way. However, I do believe there are ways to use it efficiently. I truly believe I had a great start with it, yet as things got busy it went down hill.
The following is what I did wrong:
1. I was inconsistent. Sometimes I chose to give the students marbles when they had a really good morning or afternoon, other times I would forget. Sometimes I gave marbles when I saw a student doing a kind act to another, whereas most times, I forgot.
2. My goals were set too high. I often found reasons to take away marbles rather than add marbles and when I did add marbles it was too little. While the students were close to filling the jar, it never actually got full. This was partly due to me forgetting it as well.
What I learned? Well, while the importance of consistency can be so obvious, it is harder to accomplish than one would think. So this is some advice I give to anyone thinking of starting this management strategy:
1. Only use the marble jar for one reason. Whether it be for when the students cooperate in class and show hard work, or whether you use it for acts of kindness. Do not set your goals so high to use it for numerous reasons, or it will become forgotten, and inconsistent.
2. Set goals in the morning for the marble jar, letting the students know the goal. For example, you could tell students that if they show hard, quiet work all the way until recess they will get a big marble, or 5 marbles in their marble jar. Or, if you are doing it for acts of kindness, you could tell students that if you see 5 special acts of kindness during the day, you will add 5 marbles to the jar. This way, you are reminding yourself to add marbles, and you are reminding your students about the marble jar.
3. Make the goals achievable so that the students WILL get that promised class party or treat if they fill the jar. If they fill the jar once and get their prize, they may be even more keen to do it again.
Trial and error... the best way to eventually run the perfect classroom :)