On writing students’ names on the whiteboard by @sorw88

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.

This is a re-blog post originally posted by @sorw88 and published with kind permission.

The original post can be found here.

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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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  1. You put the names of children in Y7 on the board if they ask a ‘pointless’ question!?! Primary teachers everywhere are shuddering – we have spent years encouraging that child to participate and not be afraid of mistakes, they are learning opportunities. You have undone all that work with a stoke of your whiteboard pen!

    • Sounds like it’s being done in good humour, I’m sure the author is sensitive and sensible enough not to do so where a student’s confidence might be undermined.

      And there IS such a thing as a stupid question, where it is deliberately so!

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