In the 18 years I’ve been teaching, I’ve tried all sorts of behavior management systems. I’ve had the kids pull cards. I’ve tried the marbles in a jar. One year I even gave my students tickets for good behavior and excellent participation. Another year, I awarded table points. I’ve even used an economy system where my kiddos earned money and then spent it all in a class store buying trinkets. I was always looking for that PERFECT SYSTEM! The one that would work like a charm with every single child.
After years of research in my own classroom, you know what I finally discovered? I’ve finally realized that THE PERFECT CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT SYSTEM DOES NOT EXIST!!!!!
What works one year and with one group of students, might not work the following. Another thing I’ve learned is that you need to find a system that WORKS.FOR.YOU. If you don’t have much time left at the end of the week to run a class store, then do it! Be honest with yourself and how much time you’re willing to invest.
It’s important to choose a system that fits with your teaching style and with the needs of your students. It should be a system that both you and your students will enjoy. You definitely don’t want to pick a system that is absolute torture for you. You also don’t want a system that’s going to seem like work. We have enough work on our hands, and a classroom management system shouldn’t be adding to that pile.
For the past few years I’ve used BAM’s in my classroom with much success. My students seem to love them, my parents tell me that their children can’t stop talking about them, and former students ask me if I’m still using them. Needless to say, as long as BAM’s continue to motivate my kiddos, I’m going to keep using them.
What Are BAM’s
A BAM is a fuzzy, colored pom pom that students are able to earn and trade in for tokens. In our classroom, the word BAM stands for students caught Being AMazing! We have LITTLE BAMS… and BIG BAMS. Big BAMs are worth 3 of the little ones and they are hard to come by. That’s why whenever a student earns one, it’s a B-I-G D-E-A-L
Where Do Students Keep Their BAMs
Students store their BAMs right on top of their desks inside of small containers that I usually find at the Dollar Tree. One year I used colorful plastic baby food jars like the pink one in the picture below. Another year I used clear containers with colorful lids. They were meant to store paint and had a white insert that the kids could open to drop their BAMs inside. The children really LOVED those containers. I usually look for something small, colorful, and cheap that will last the entire year. The kiddos treat their BAM containers like gold.
How Do The BAMs Stay Put
I attach each BAM container to the top right or left of each student’s desk with a small velcro dot. The velcro makes it quick and easy to remove when needed. At the beginning of the year, we set a few ground rules so the children don’t spend the entire day removing and replacing their containers from their desks. They also NEVER go home! They must always stay in the classroom and on each student’s desk. Another rule is that you’re only allowed to touch your own container.
How Are BAMs Earned
BAMs can be earned for just about anything. The point is to motivate students! If you give students a list of what will earn them a BAM than that’s all they’re going to do. They’re not going to go out of their way to do something special. So instead I just tell my students that I’m always on the look out for AMAZING BEHAVIOR and AMAZING PARTICIPATION. That’s how you earn BAMs.
Sometimes I’ll award a student a BAM even though they may have answered a question incorrectly. Perhaps they took a risk in answering when no one else dared to raise their hand. Or perhaps a student helped a classmate with a difficult math problem without being asked to. The point is, that you want children being AMAZING ALL THE TIME!
Here’s a list of some of the more common ways students can earn BAMS:
- class participation
- random acts of kindness such as helping a fellow classmate without being asked to do so
- returning weekly work folders on time
- recalling information that was learned in a previous lesson
- excellent classroom behavior when a guest enters the room. (If it’s someone REALLY important and the entire class does AMAZING, then I’ll even award them a BIG Bam!)
- working/sitting quietly when the classroom phone rings
- excellent cafeteria, hallway, library behavior
- well thought out answer to a challenging question
- excellent effort
- fantastic teamwork
- honesty (If a student finds a BAM on the floor and turns it in, I’ll usually reward them with a BAM)
As you can see, you can pretty much hand them out whenever you want. And because they are so small, you can have a few in your pocket or in your hands and award them in random places throughout the day. If I ever notice that my student’s hallway behavior is slipping, I simply grab a few BAMS in the palm of my hand and let the kiddos know that I’m on the lookout for some AMAZING BEHAVIOR. I wish you could see their reactions… BAMs are like gold nuggets in my room!
In another post, I’ll tell you all about how we trade in our BAMs for tokens…
If you’ve been struggling with behavior in your classroom or are in need of a change, I hope this post gives you a few fresh ideas to try out!
Do you have a few tips and strategies of your own that you’ve learned along the way? If so, I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.