First, I think all children REALLY try hard (most of the time) to do the best they can. It's just a much easier task for some children as opposed to others.
Second, no matter how we slice it, the charts are visible to all. The "good kids" get to be (and stay) labeled as "good kids". The children that find sitting still, raising their hands, and in general controlling the "ants in their pants" get labeled as "naughty kids". Everyone knows... yikes!
Third, charts don't really honor improvement in a way that is lasting and reinforcing. I think it's so important to honor effort, even when it just lasts for a moment or two.
Fourth, For the most part, I don't think the acting-out child is even aware of his/her behavior. I think students get too excited, frustrated, antsy, etc. to even be aware of their behavior and the effects on others.
Over the years I found that quietly making children aware of their behavior (without the judgement) was pretty effective.
Simple statements like,
"I'm noticing that you are chatting with Sally. I bet that's making it hard for her to do her work."
"I'm noticing that you raised your hand all morning when you wanted to talk. I bet this is someting you are really thinking about today."
Anyway- you get the point.
I also had "I noticed" cards that I made sure each child got at least once a month. I used the cards for positive "I noticed" statements only. Actually, I kept a chart to be sure that I sent a positive "I noticed" card home each month for each child. This allowed me to acknowledge each child's efforts and to share the acknowledgements with the child's parents. It kept us all in the loop and all honoring effort.
I have a number of card styles and a monthly tracking chart for anyone who would like them. Just click
here to download.