Tuesday, January 28, 2014

I Think It's A Blue Day?

My son's Kindergarten class uses the infamous color coded system for classroom behavior management.  It's not my favorite method to be honest.  When I read this article, which addresses shaming, it really put things into perspective for me, and settled my feelings on the controversial method.

I try not to acknowledge my son's daily color report because it's not what is important to me.  I do care about my son's behavior, it's important to the development of his whole self.  But I want to know if he's understanding what he's being taught at school.  I want to know what's helping him, and what's not helping him.  I want to know about successes, and failures.  I want to know what he's going to try next time...a color does not tell me these things.

I want my child to learn how colors can describe emotion and affect moods naturally, not instill fear.  What makes yellow so bad?  I thought it was a cheerful color.  What makes purple the best?  It used to make me think of violets, and now it's a shade that my son tries to obtain.  When my son is told he had a purple day, he doesn't even know why half of the time.

I love my son's teachers, and I know they have only the best intentions for their students, but I do not understand a system of colors that isn't entirely clear, even to the children.  I told my son one day that I do not care what color you get.  Treat others the way you want to be treated.  I only care that you are trying your best and just being you!

A note was sent home, intended to explain the meaning behind using the color coded system.  I noticed one particular section that covered some basic rules... "Team players are friends to everyone."  It struck me because I know my son, and many other children know how to be a friend to someone, and what it can look like...but to everyone?  What if you aren't friends with everyone?  No one can be...it's an unrealistic expectation to impose on anyone, especially children that haven't learned the fine art of faking friendship for the sake of social harmony.  What a confusing message for young brains that are in the very early years of social problem solving.

You can be polite.
You can be courteous.
You can be cordial.
You can be helpful.
You can smile.

But you can't be friends with everyone.  Not everyone gets along, even when they try.  I guess that means it will only be a yellow day for a child, or maybe a blue because they tried?  I'm starting to think about it too much already.

I wonder how much the children think about their color instead of learning to be their best selves, and loving what they are learning.  Hopefully, they will learn that a color will not define their day, or who they are.    

A couple of resources that I am a fan of regarding classroom management...

The School Family (Dr. Becky Bailey/Conscious Discipline)

Ten Stoplight Alternatives (Beyond The Stoplight)

What classroom management resources have opened your eyes?

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  1. Thank you so much for this, it is absolutely brilliant! My son's not in school yet, but I have seen the color system in use and I, too, feel like there needs to be a better way. I love your point about friendships the most!

    1. Thank you Amanda. The friendship part is definitely what has been inspiring me to write about this topic. I feel that telling children to be friends is a way to paraphrase the things we'd like to see them doing and learning, but children are very literal. Saying "be friends" can backfire...it's the skills "behind the curtain" that need focusing on.


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