How To Set Up Your Clip Chart System for Amazing Success!

How To Set Up Your Clip Chart System For Amazing Success

So glad to see you here for the  2nd installment of the clip chart system challenge. If you haven’t signed up, it is not too late. Just click here or scroll to the bottom and be sure to read Part One here.

As we talked about last time, used alone clip charts don’t remain effective for very long, but as part of a system they have the potential to be a powerful behavior management tool.

We are going to get to the nitty-gritty of setting up your system for success and dispel some myths and misconceptions as we go.

Ready? Oh wait!

Apple Clip Chart

Do you have your clip chart printed and laminated? If not, you can get this one free when you sign up for the challenge.

You can use any clip chart if it is editable or has the recommended wording.

See A Word About Wording below.  

Also, although the colors don’t matter to the system itself, they should be purple, blue, green, yellow, orange, red to synchronize with the free printables.

A Word About Wording

(Misconception – Clip charts are degrading)

Clip charts themselves aren’t degrading but sometimes the wording used on them can be. 

Avoid clip charts that have cutesy phrases such as “flight cancelled”, “head in the clouds” or “lost in the jungle”. I have seen all of these! Not only might some children (and parents) find it degrading, but the reverse also can be true! Some of your challenging kids may find “walk the plank” funny and motivating. It’s best to use descriptive words you would feel comfortable writing on a student’s work or report card. Imagine writing “shark bait” on a student’s paper?

Okay so now we are ready to hang up that colorful, appropriately worded clip chart, right?


Another issue that has come up, is the publicly displayed element of a hanging clip chart with students’ names on it.

We will talk a lot more about reward and punishment later, but keep in mind that this system is intended to be predominately positive and motivating.

It is a tool for teaching and reinforcing appropriate behavior, with the last two levels reserved for truly unacceptable conduct, not minor infractions.

If children engage in behaviors that are intolerable they must learn there are consequences for those behaviors.

If part of the outcome is embarrassment, hopefully they have learned a valuable lesson about socially unacceptable behavior and consequences.

The point is not humiliation, rather learning about cause and effect of behavior and accepting responsibility for their actions.

Relationship building involves trust and respect so it is important for all students to see that you, the adult, will not allow aggression, offensive language or bullying.

Step 1 – The Rules

(Misconception – Kids Don’t Care About the Clip Charts)

Of course, they don’t! Not at first anyway.

A clip chart is just 6 pieces of paper hanging on the wall! Your job is to provide kids with reasons to care about it!

Become a car salesman. Emphasize all the positive benefits the clip chart can produce, both individually and as a class.

Now turn into a cheerleader and really sell it! Sell it from the heart and before you know it, you will hear your students talking about the awesome clip chart their teacher uses.

Step 2 – The Rules

The rules are the second piece of a positive behavior management plan.

Almost every teacher I have ever known, starts the school year with some version of rules.

The rules are a crucial part of any classroom and while there may be similarities they can differ from teacher to teacher and from year to year.

As you create your rules, think carefully about what is important for you to be able to teach effectively.

Classroom rules define what is and what isn’t allowed. Effective rules use short, clear, positive statements. (i.e. instead of no calling out, say raise your hand) and don’t go overboard with the number of rules you have.

Be sure to include some positive version of “use appropriate language” and “keep hands to self”.  Classroom rules reflect the climate of the classroom you wish to create.

So far, I may not have told you anything new about rules.

While all of these things are important for rule development there is one significant difference for incorporating them into a positive behavior management system.

The way the rules will be introduced to your class varies a great deal from the traditional way and may take a bit of a mind shift for you.

The rules should be viewed more like goals instead of a list of things that are prohibited with consequences for infractions.

By viewing rules as goals, they become a set of skills to be learned and maintained throughout the year and will help create an encouraging and affirmative classroom structure instead of one of fear.

Students and parents will be pleased to know you are a teacher who manages his/her classroom with a positive system, not a teacher who looks for opportunities to catch students disobeying.

Time spent now discussing the rules with your class, will be time well spent. Give rationales for why specific rules (goals) are important and present lots of examples.  Revisit and reinforce when necessary. You might even want to link them with your character education traits.

Now hang up your clip chart and rules, give yourself a pat on the back and stay tuned for Part 3 – The Motivators

Before You Throw Those Clip Charts Away…

Before You Throw That Clip Chart Away...

Read This!

Clip Charts. Those rainbow-colored charts with clothespins bearing students names or numbers clipped to the sides. If you are a teacher you have seen them, probably used them, and have an opinion on them one way or another.

Lately the clip chart has gotten some really bad press. I have read articles urging teachers to outlaw them, burn them, throw them away. Beside that, they have been called demeaning, ineffective and evil.

So, what is wrong with clip charts? Nothing. What IS wrong, can be the way they are implemented.  Many well-meaning teachers have inadvertently been using them incorrectly.

Have you ever had a Pinterest Fail?  You see a beautiful picture and it has thousands of likes, and although you carefully followed instructions it came out looking ugly and tasting terrible?

What mostly likely happens is someone posts a delicious recipe, someone else tweaks it a little and re-posts it. Tweaks and re-posts continue.

Before long the recipe no longer resembles the original. The same thing has happened with clip charts.

People have put their own spin on clip charts until they no longer look or function as intended. I have heard many classroom stories about clip chart implementation that could potentially have damaging results.

Yet, when used the way they were originally intended they can be a fun, effective and stress-free tool for classroom behavior management.

The original form of the clip chart was a positive system designed for teaching and reinforcing appropriate behavior.

One of my pet peeves is when certain colors are assigned labels of “good” and “bad”. Colors are just colors.

They are not inherently good or bad and this vocabulary should not be used or allowed by teachers and parents.

In theory, a clip chart could be on plain white paper, although it would be a lot less engaging and fun!


As a result of all the tweaks and changes I  often hear clip charts “don’t work”.                  

Used alone, I mostly agree.  At least they probably won’t work for long!

But as part of an easily implemented, behavior management system you would be amazed at the outcome!

I have taught this method to many, many teachers with terrific results.

On October 11, 2016, Juliette said:  I am SO excited to use these. My class saw the chart and was already chattering about how they would get to purple before I even explained the concept. Thanks!!

On January 20, 2016, Ashley D. said: LOVE it. The charts are life savers.

On August 17, 2016, Carmen J. said: I love that kids can move up, instead of only down!!!

Not convinced? Before you throw out your clip charts, I am inviting you to take the clip chart challenge.

Already a clip chart believer? You are gonna love this!

On the fence? Give it a try. What do you have to lose?


How It Works

Beginning next week, I will be sharing a series of posts describing how and why to set up a complete clip chart behavior management system. Once your system is set up and running, I will continue to support you with additional information for lasting results. Together we will constantly strengthen your system and motivate your students.

What You Will Get

  • Access each month to free behavior management printables
  • Tools to implement a complete system
  • A better understanding of behavior and motivation
  • A smooth running, well behaved class
  • A format for documenting problem behavior
  • Admiration of your administrators and colleagues

What You Will Need

  • A classroom of kids. A willingness to try something new!
  • A 6-color behavior chart. You can use any one you want but be sure it is editable because the words will be important. Also, although the colors don’t matter to the system itself, to limit the need for editing printables, they should be purple, blue, green, yellow, orange, red. You can find many varieties in my TPT Store Stars On The Spectrum. Or get started with the free one below.
You can find this one in the FREE RESOURCE LIBRARY when you sign up for the challenge below.

How Much Does The Challenge Cost?

Nothing! The challenge is absolutely free!!!

Where Can I Sign Up?

Right here!

True Story – A Box, A List and Clean Up In Aisle 7

The Box, The List And Clean Up In Aisle 7

Or Why This Post Took 2 Years To Write

This is a story. It is a true story, it is my story, it is the story of how this blog came to be.

Long before computers and Xerox machines and PLC’s, I began my teaching career without the benefit of Pinterest! Can you believe that?! Over the years so much has changed, the pendulum has swung back and forth and back again.

Some changes for the better, some not so much, but that’s a totally different topic for a totally different time. Almost two years ago, with mixed feelings, I retired at what I considered a young age.

A young woman lying on her couch talking on the phone and eating


The first two months were an awesome, endless vacation. I lounged on the couch in my PJs eating fast food and Netflix bingeing.

Then…I remembered …The Box! Do we all have one of these boxes? I think we do. The Box was my treasure chest of “things I would do when I had more time” i.e. when I retired.


The Box

Excitedly, I lifted the dusty top. Counted cross stitch of a unicorn with a peace sign? What? No!  Five rolls of film with pictures to scrapbook? Well, I’d have to get them developed and …and…nope. Rusty calligraphy pens? I haven’t updated my tetanus shot, nope! 129 things you can make with zucchini?  Hmmm, zucchini is out of season, so…nope.

The List

Sigh. I put the top back on the box and I shove it back under the bed. Next came my list “THE List”. The list to end all lists. I’m famous for my lists. Honestly, look up “lists”, you’ll see my face.

1) Write a novel (Scoff)

2) Bedazzale a purse (LOL)

3) Play the lottery (I can try, right?)

4) Dye yarn with Kool-Aid in my crockpot (uh…what)

There was more but I’ve probably overshared enough already. Needless to say, this list…THE List, wasn’t turning out to be all that much of a life changer.

The Blog

That evening I admitted to my daughter that maybe, just maybe, I was getting a little bored…and maybe, just maybe, I missed teaching…a little bit.

“Start a blog, mom.” She said to me. Me? What? A blog? But I hardly even know how to use FACEBOOK! I don’t know how to do that!

“I’ll help you!” She promised, fingers already flying over the keyboard and words like “host” and “WordPress” coming from her mouth.

Within minutes, Stars On The Spectrum comes to life and so do I once again.


“We’re all set” She tells me, with a grin on her face. I’m beaming for the first time in what seems like forever. It’s getting late now, so she promises to help me write the first blog post tomorrow, after we go grocery shopping.

I can hardly sleep, my head is filled with ideas. The next morning finally comes around and we make it out of the house our feet crunching on freshly fallen snow. I feel like something about today is going to be different, I think to myself.

Clean Up In Aisle 7

My daughter is chatting away on the car ride there and once inside aisle after aisle, reading items off a list, grabbing this, grabbing that. I am barely focusing on what she’s saying, I’m so excited about what I’m going to put up on my new website when we get home! Walking down aisle 5 she stops and grabs my arm…

“Mom, I think my water just broke!”



My daughter is laughing, trying to waddle to the bathroom. I’m trying not to freak out and stay calm, because we’re literally in the middle of grocery shopping.

Oh, my goodness, is she going to give birth in the middle of Walmart?!

She wobbles out and she nods with her typical smirk. Within 24 hours, my very first granddaughter was born and my blog forgotten.



So, that is the box, the list and the clean up in aisle 5 part, but the story doesn’t end there. I opened my store on Teachers Pay Teachers and focused most of my energy there (and on my grandchild of course!)

I made a few feeble stabs at my blog but I was ill-equipped when it came to using plugins and software. I am also a perfectionist, so unless things are JUST right, they’re wrong. I took courses and watched as many YouTube videos as I could.

I’m writing this post because November 16th, 2016 is coming up. My beautiful, granddaughter will be turning TWO! And I, dear readers, am posting my very first blog post. Not because it is finally perfect, but because it is Time! I hope you like it!

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