Bright Idea for Managing Hallway Behavior!

I'm joining up for another Bright Ideas blog hop! There are 150 bloggers, all with awesome FREE ideas and tips!
My tip this week is a management tool. Everyone knows what a line of students in a hallway should look like: quiet, facing forward, hands to themselves. My class this year can't handle that. Well, about 1/2 of them can, but the other 1/2 find it incredibly difficult. I do everything I can to avoid having to be in the hallway for a prolonged period - I don't go to lunch until I know the other classes have cleared the cafeteria line, we're the last ones into assemblies, we're the first to leave assemblies etc.

However, this class also can't handle going to the bathroom on their own (as our custodians can attest to!) so we have to do whole class bathroom breaks. With 26 kiddos, this can take a long time. I have several students that have impulse control issues, and this is very apparent while waiting in line. I tried redirection, making my expectations clear, having consequences etc. Ultimately though, I found that our bathroom breaks were a big negative part of the day - which of course followed us back into the classroom as well.

So, how do I remove the negative from our bathroom breaks? By changing my expectations! I can't expect this year's kiddos to be able to do everything previous year's classes have done. Instead of trying to get them to stand still and be quiet, I had to give them something to do and focus on. Since our bathroom breaks are so long it helps that this is educational too.
We've been working on fluency and sight words a lot, so I came up with the idea of using Fry's Phrases on poster boards. I chose phrases from the first 300 and wrote them on the ghostline posters. I taped these to the walls in the foyer outside our bathroom. Each time we head out for a bathroom break we bring a pointer from the classroom with us.

Now instead of saying "Please keep your hands to yourself." or "Remember, our voices are off in the hallways.", I say things like "I'm looking for the antonym of short." or "Find a word that ends in a digraph." or "Can you find a silent e word?". The beauty of this is that I can make this as difficult or as easy as my kids can handle. I have some CVC words on the posters so my lowest kiddos have a chance at identifying those, but I can make it super challenging for my higher level kiddos by asking for them to identify words with blends or multiple syllables etc. We look for verbs, nouns, adjectives and adverbs as well as punctuation too.
 Now, the management part comes with the fact that they only get a turn with the pointer if they are standing in line quietly, directly behind the person in front of them. They also don't get to raise their hand until they've found the word I'm looking for, which means that everyone is scanning the posters trying to find the word. Since they're all working for a turn, I don't ever have to get on them about line procedures any more.They're no longer bored since they're focused on reading the posters, trying to find the words before a friend. This is fast paced too, so in a single bathroom break almost everyone gets a turn, which gives them the opportunity for movement so they don't have to stand still as long.
I used a multicolor pack of posters so I can give hints like "You might want to look at the green poster."  too, but also because the colors are naturally appealing to the kids. I started off with only 3 posters, but have progressed to having 7 taped up now. Sometimes I'll just ask someone to read a whole poster, or a whole line. The point is to keep changing it up so that it's something new to engage them each time.

I hope this idea helps some of you who are having problems with hallway procedures. Sometimes it's helpful to have that reminder that expectations need to be realistic and can change to reflect your class. I'm not saying to lower your expectations, but if a procedure isn't working you have to see if there are other ways to get the desired result - in this case a class that didn't disturb others while waiting for the bathroom!

Be sure to check out all the other Bright Ideas from this month:


Shelley Gray said...

What a great way to keep your students focused! Fantastic idea!!


Lee Ann Rasey said...

I love this idea! But my students will be loud (they love to talk) reading these, and I am unable to keep an eye on them as we allow only 3 boys at a time in the restroom, and I need to watch them. Also our girls restroom is upstairs so they get no supervision. Yep, bathroom breaks are not fun!

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