Just Say NO to Public Behavior Management Systems!


I love this blog post from Pernille Ripp¬†called “I’ve Had Enough– No More Public Behavior Management Systems.”

She says in reference to kids who have a difficult time with behavior, “When we use public behavior management systems, we tell those children that school will never be a place where they will succeed. We put them under an unattainable microscope and then wonder why they rebel.”

Just Let it Go!

I used to use a clip chart and I’m sorry for it.

Sometimes I think back and wonder why, as a teacher, do we do certain things? Like public behavior systems, homework, spelling tests, etc. These are not things that are learned in our credential programs. There isn’t any research that supports the use. So where did we learn it then? We learned it from each other. Because someone, however long ago, decided this worked. Public behavior systems kept a class in line. It kept a class quiet. It kept kids in their “place.” And long ago that was how school was. A quiet, teacher centered place. But this isn’t what school is today.

However we are human, and yes, we make mistakes. Mistakes can bring about good if we can learn from them. I wish I could go back and change my practices of the past and apologize to kids who may have been adversely affected. But since I haven’t been able to get our Tardis to work just yet, what I can do is move forward. Make changes and move forward.



Image Credit: LINK

We all can. We all want our classrooms to be safe places for children. All of the teachers who I have worked with love children. So let’s truly build a place that is safe, respectful, and helps our most needy kids. Make the behavior systems private and personalized. Because let’s face it, 95% of the class does not need a system. Plan for the small percent. It may be a lot more work, but it is work that is well worth it. Because our most needy students, our students who need the most love, ask for help in the most difficult ways.



  1. says

    Great post, Jo-Ann. There’s much that we do with students that involves from being “public” – we want to hear each other’s ideas, learn from each other’s experiences, processes, trials, productive failures, eventual successes. We need our public space to be safe space for students, one that’s used for good. The idea of using negative peer pressure or public shaming to control behavior has limited short-term usefulness and negative short and long-term harm that should bring an end to such practices. At the same time, there are a few absolute statements in Pernille’s post that I would want to qualify or “walk back” a bit, without disagreeing with the premise.
    And by sharing our teaching struggles and failures publicly as we do through blogging and social media, we hopefully make our professional public spaces and PLNs safe for these kinds of discussions. You’ve done your part here!

    • says

      Thank you for your response David Cohen. Yes, this post is me, being honest about past mistakes. If we can’t share those mistakes, how can we help others to learn? I would never say I am a perfect teacher. I am a “learning teacher.” Even after 17 years of practice I’m learning, growing, and moving forward. The hard part is letting go of past behaviors and admitting they aren’t what is best for kids. I’m hoping this blog post challenges some teacher friends to think differently.

  2. says

    THANK YOU! As a dad of two elementary kids and as a principal I so appreciated your perspective and passion about this topic! Thanks for the post and for the great observation that mistakes can bring about good!

  3. Chelsea McClellan says

    As I reflect on this past school year in terms of student behavior management, I realize that I never used a single “system.” This marks two years of PBIS (Positive Behavior Intervention Strategies) implementation for me. I am a believer and advocate and will never go back. It just works…every single time. The premise seems like a no brainer, ignore the misbehavior (unless it’s a safety issue) and immediately find someone with the expected behavior and give them genuine praise for it. “Kyle, I appreciate how you are listening to your partner and gently pointing out how you might start another way. Thank you.” “Jen, you have your pencil ready and your eyes up front. That really helps me give us more time to discuss this problem.” These are genuine praises that good teachers are giving all the time. But usually alongside asking or redirecting the behavior that is disrupting class. Those redirections, in this system just aren’t given. And miraculously, they aren’t needed. I can’t remember the last time the disruptive behavior lasted as I praised everyone directly/physically near the person causing the issue. They self-corrected. And, within 2 minutes, you find something genuine to praise him/her for. Then keep a close eye on more ways to give him/her more praise throughout the class. It can be time consuming and cyclical, but I’ve never seen a strategy so completely change the behavior of the worst offenders so quickly with no escalation. And the icing is that the 95% get recognition for what they always do and who they already are as scholars and difference-makers.

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