Why Do Teachers Use Clip Charts?

Today is part 1 in a series about something I am very passionate about…clip charts and other types of public behavior management.

Before I start this blog post, I want to share that I had a clip chart in my classroom for several years. My second year of teaching I added squares to “clip up” and thought I was REALLY progressive. I had no idea that what I was doing was so harmful. But I know better now, and I hope this information reaches a teacher who’s struggling with behavior management. I do not want to shame anyone or guilt you into doing something different. My goal is to share the mistakes I made so you don’t have to make the same ones. Together we can make our classrooms safer for all of our students!

I feel like it’s important to talk about WHY we’re using clip charts, Class Dojo, and other similar systems. I don’t believe anyone wants to shame our students, hurt them, or make them feel insecure. We are all doing the very best that we can.

When we talk about why we’re using them, it will be easier to figure out a different solution.

Pressure

There is SO much pressure as a new teacher. If you look on social media, you think your classroom has to be perfectly organized and decorated. You need to spend thousands of dollars on matching bins and storage. Your walls should be perfectly curated for professionally drawn anchor charts. Your admin wants you to meet certain test scores and show ALL THE DATA. You need to be totally prepared for each meeting and learn 1,000 acronyms. Your classroom should be quiet, and when your class walks down the hall no one should be out of line. So when a veteran teacher (or a Pinterest image) tells you that a clip chart will make your life easier, you’re probably gonna do it.

Not Knowing Other Options

I didn’t have a single class on social-emotional learning or even behavior management. We talked about routines and procedures, but that’s it. I looked around the internet and it seemed like everyone was doing clip charts. You’d make them cute to match your theme, of course. That’s just what everyone did. So I never questioned it. I remember telling a new teammate we weren’t using clip charts and she started crying. She’s a close friend and I KNOW her heart. She would NEVER, EVER want to hurt a student. But she thought she had no other option. If we DON’T use clip charts, how will we have a well-managed classroom? Won’t they just run around and punch each other? I’m kidding, but really…that’s what I used to think.

Thinking “I used one and I’m okay!”

If you don’t know this about me, I’m a mom of an amazing 3 year old. As we have reflected and sought to be the best parents we can be, I constantly hear “I got spanked, and I’m fine!” It’s the same with teaching. For me, I remember color cards. You had to “change your color.” A lot of us had a similar experience and we “made it.” “We survived! They can’t be that bad.” So much in teaching is “but we’ve always done it this way.” Clip charts are no exception.

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