Educator Insights

Classroom Management and Alternative to the Stoplight method

Jen Bradley’s blog looks at ways to do classroom management and check behavior in the classroom that do not include shaming students into good behavior. The Stoplight method is the one focused on here (the moving of a student’s name from green to yellow to red on a prominently displayed stoplight to indicate their behavior), but her blog post got me thinking about other shame-based behavior management methods. I even started re-thinking a method I used when I taught in Korea, which was a three “stamp” system, in which stamps could be used at the end of the month to earn special events, but could be taken away for problematic behavior. It was clear who the “problem” kids were to anyone who glanced at the board in my classroom; the kids with a stamp or two or sometimes all three missing were the ones to watch. Looking back; this method was very successful for some of my students (usually the ones who were typically not disruptive in class but who had days where self-control was harder than usual) but didn’t help much at all with the students who chronically had trouble being self-controlled from the first day I had them. I suspect that some of the alternatives that Bradley lists would have been a better idea to pursue. However, implementing some, like “talk it out,” in lower-level classrooms where teachers and students don’t share the same language can be a little difficult. I know I remember feeling that frustration. Some of my students could only tell me their favorite color in English, and I could only ask about that much in Korean. Having a conversation about behavior would be almost impossible without a translator, and in many contexts a translator isn’t readily available.  So how can we find ways to do as Bradley suggests and go “beyond the spotlight”? Please share any ideas you have about this topic! this seems like a very relevant one.

What about you? what classroom management methods to you use?

What are some methods of non-shame based classroom management would be feasible in a classroom where the teacher(s) and students don’t share the same language?




One thought on “Classroom Management and Alternative to the Stoplight method

  1. I really like this post and your reflections on shaming students. I’ve just finished re-reading James Gilligan’s book “Preventing Violence” in which he states that the cause of violence is actually shame. If this is true, classroom management methods that involving shaming students may actually increase disruptive and even violent behaviour, not prevent it.


    Posted by clwoelk | January 4, 2016, 10:15 pm

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Contributing Author

Abigail Long is a 2012 graduate of Messiah College in Grantham, PA, and a member of Fairview Ave Brethren in Christ Church in Waynesboro, PA. She spent 14 months teaching English in South Korea at the Connexus Language Institute and is deeply interested in the connections between language learning, teaching and peacebuilding.

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