VBCM 7: Tally Charts
Welcome to the Virtue Based Classroom Management Series where you will find ideas and free downloads for implementing Education in Virtue in your classroom. This is the seventh post. For a complete list of posts, topics, and free downloads click here.
Young children are very concrete, they love to see their growth and progress before their eyes. And, truth be told, middle school and high school students aren’t that much different. Documenting your behavior when you are trying to change a habit, or start a new one, is a common practice. If anything, it helps you be more conscious of your actions. Virtue is the habit of doing good, and sometimes building that habit takes real, conscious effort.
This VBCM post is able a very simple idea: tally charts. They don’t have to be tied to a goal or an incentive, but maybe you want to be able to set a goal and give a reward in your classroom.
One teacher from Presentation School in Sacramento, CA, shared with us how she used a “Courtesy Chart” in her classroom. It is worth sharing what she wrote:
The beautiful thing about the virtue of courtesy is that it helps us to acknowledge the dignity of the human person, thereby leading us to perform acts of kindness, love and respect for our neighbor and ultimately loving Christ in them. To help strengthen this virtue in my students, I created what I like to call a “Courtesy Chart.” This large chart contains a list of “courteous phrases” which I emphasize should be used frequently throughout the school day. The chart lists (but isn’t limited to) such common phrases as:
- Good morning.
- Good afternoon.
- How are you?
- Thank you.
- No thank you.
- You are welcome.
- May I…?
- Excuse me.
- I am sorry.
- I forgive you.
How I use the chart in the classroom is that every time a student says one of the phrases or hears a peer use one of the phrases, he would place a tally mark next to that particular phrase. We make it a class goal to have at least 5 tally marks beside each phrase by the end of the school week. If we reach our goal, the entire class gets a prize for practicing virtue. Sometimes, if our class is struggling on a particular phrase, we may refocus our goal on getting more tally marks for that particular phrase. There are all kinds of ways to using the chart to encourage our children to practice this most essential virtue!
For children who may be a little less motivated in using the courtesy chart, I suggest turning it into a game. For students who were a “little sleepy” in the morning upon their arrival to school and neglected to say “Good morning” to me, I told them that they had to “race me” in saying “Good morning” to the other. If they greeted me first, they received a little prize (e.g. a sticker or a pencil). They LOVED this and would beat me almost every morning! Eventually, it became so natural for them that, without them realizing, I slowly weaned them off from receiving prizes and now they greet me without expecting anything except the simple joy of acknowledging the presence of another. Now that’s true virtue!