Saturday, September 13, 2014

Classroom Management: Positive Behavior Cones

Managing classroom behavior is often a topic of concern for School Counselors.  Our training is geared more for the one-on-one interactions found in individual counseling, parent conferences, and teacher consultations. The managing of small groups is okay, but the classroom for many is daunting. Whether you are comfortable with classroom management or still looking for just the right tool, perhaps you will find the use of Positive Behavior Cones a  helpful idea.

Shortly before school started, I found these cute little cones with positive sayings on them at my local Dollar Tree.  I had no idea what I would do with them when I bought one of every color, but I was certain they were a "must have" and I would figure it out later.  Pre-planning began and I set up my classroom putting one on each table.  During pre-planning week ideas begin to form in my head and by the time school started I knew how I would use them.  Now, after 4 weeks, I am happy to share how I am using Positive Behavior Cones to assist with classroom management.

A Little Background
We are a PBIS school and our behavioral expectations spell "PAWS" (our mascot is a Bulldog). All of our students know Perform Personal Best, Act Responsibly, Work and Play Safely, and Show Respect.  Last year, we created  a school-wide behavior incentive program which involved classes earning a bone for good behavior. Each faculty and staff member was given 10 bone stickers each month to give away around campus to students or classes exhibiting PAWS behavior (but never to their own class).  Every classroom was given a paper dog bowl and were working towards earning bones. A menu was created listing rewards in 25 bone increments. When a class reached 25 bones they were able to exchange them for a class reward, which was provided by our administration. Once they turned in their dog bowl with bones, they would get a new one and start the collection again.

Cones and Bones
While unpacking my new room I found a lot of left over bone stickers.  Obviously, I had not been giving away my fair share of bones each month!  I decided the best way for me to participate in this school-wide incentive was to offer my classes the opportunity to earn bones during their lessons with me. So as I did my introductory "Meet the Counselor" lessons with each class, I talked about what PAWS looked like and sounded like during my classroom counseling lessons.  I explained to the students as long as everyone was following PAWS their cones would remain on their tables. At the end of class, if I had not removed the cones at anytime from any table they would earn a bone.  However, as I am teaching a lesson, if a member of their table is not following PAWS, I will give them a reminder one time then will remove their cone.  In order to promote continued compliance with PAWS, good will, and a "we can do it" attitude, I provided a way to earn their cone back.  I told the students in a very dramatic way they could pout and get mad because they lost their cone or they could decide to correct their behavior, follow PAWS, and I would return their cone for making a good choice.  As long as every table still had their cone at the end of class, even though they may have lost it at one point, I would award them a star. When a class had earned 3 stars they would receive a bone.  There is a list of classes posted on my door where I record their bones and stars. So far, the students are loving it and I have given away 4 bones and numerous stars. The first 2 weeks of school as I introduced the Positive Behavior Cones, I did not take cones off the tables, but told them, "If I had started the program today, you would have lost your cone for that."  I wanted them to get use to the idea of the cones and see and hear what I would remove cones for.  I always talk about  PAWS when removing a cone. "That's not showing respect to talk when a classmate is sharing.  So I will have to take your cone."  In the past 2 weeks, I've had 30 classes (I am in the Special Area rotation) and only 2 have left with no star or bone.  I am very pleased and so are my students!

So, how can this work for your classroom management?
Well, you may be thinking, that's just fine but we don't have a school-wide incentive program to use as a reward.  No matter, you can still make this work for you. Classes that keep their cones for following whatever rules or procedures (yours, classroom teacher's, school's) you choose to follow could earn a sticker. Three stickers (or whatever number you decide) could equal a popcorn party, or extra recess, or lunch in the classroom with a movie (inexpensive things you could provide).  Or if the classroom teacher has an incentive program with marbles in a jar or letters to spell a word like recess, playground, or whatever, classes could earn a couple of marbles or letters for keeping all their cones. If classes lost a cone, but earned them back maybe they earned half a sticker or just one marble or letter instead of 2.  Talk it over with the classroom teacher to see if they are willing to have you incorporate the use of Positive Behavior Cones in with their classroom incentive program.

Even if you didn't have a chance to get these Positive Behavior Cones at Dollar Tree, you could use any object to represent the cone. Maybe make and laminate table tents with positive sayings on them, or use those 3 sided clear acrylic photo holders. The choices are up to you and limited only by your imagination.  I'd love to hear your ideas for managing classroom behavior or a unique way you have used the Positive Behavior Cones! Please be sure to share below.

Do you use an incentive program when teaching classroom lessons?  What works for you and your school?


  1. LOVE these colorful cones and your creativity! Kids love incentives, and what better way to incentivize than to give them time ... with you, at recess, in the nature center, on the track, etc. Way to go, Jeannie ... those little superheroes are lucky to have you!

  2. Thanks Barbara! Don't we have the best job ever?!

  3. I did get the cones and have begun using them!! Looking forward to having more positive responses from my kids! Thanks so much for sharing your wonderful ideas!!!

  4. I went back to see if there were any more at Dollar Tree and all were gone. Glad you were able to find them!