On writing students’ names on the whiteboard.

For a while I wrote students’ names on the whiteboard if they had been good, and if they had been bad.  From talking to colleagues I think this is fairly common practice.  One teacher told me about a boy and a girl who were talking.  She wrote both their names on the board on the ‘bad side’ with a love heart between them.  They stopped talking.

I’ve since stopped writing names on the board for misbehaviour, because it so obviously had made behaviour worse, not better.  The worst behaved students – so, the more likely to be on the board – would typically say something along the lines of ‘Whaaat?!  How come my name’s on there when X has been talking this whole time?!’  Generally the loudness and anger of their reaction was completely out of proportion to what has happened: there was no sanction attached to having their name on the board, it was basically just a bit of a warning.  It was not unusual for a student to get more angry and rude about their name being on the board than about being given a lunchtime detention.  They don’t seem to mind nearly as much if I write their names on my phone (which I now do, as discussed here).

The only time I write student names on the board for doing something bad is with year seven, and this was more or less as a joke.  They were, as I think year sevens probably are up and down the country, very fond of asking questions/putting their hands up, so if what they said was pointless or annoying, I would write their name of the whiteboard under ‘stupid/pointless questions/statements’.

I now only have a ‘good side’.  I often forget to write down names during the lesson for good things, but I always write them down for giving out books, generally for when lots of students are off task (then I write down the names of the few doing what I want), and always for the first few people to get started writing at the beginning of the lesson.  At the end of the lesson, I dismiss students on the good side of the board immediately on the bell (even if the rest of the class are still packing away).  It’s a generally acknowledged truism in behaviour management that good behaviour is achieved through the certainty, not the severity, of sanctions.  I think this can also be applied to rewards, as here.


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