Why I Still Love the Clip Chart...

If you've been reading my blog for a while, you know my love for the Clip Chart. It honestly transformed my classroom environment. I went from focusing on the negative (with a system that primarily documented poor choices) to encouraging positive changes. I saw the biggest impact among those who have a habit of making poor choices. They went from being defeated and stuck in a rut, to understanding that change is possible and praiseworthy. 
Now I although I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the Clip Chart and the system I had going (you can read about it here and here), I know that some people have reservations. The one I hear most often, from other teachers and parents, is that it is too public. That having a record of mistakes on display (the lower levels of the Chart) and having students publicly acknowledge their mistakes (by walking over and moving their clip), is damaging to their confidence. I've even heard it said that it's a violation of their right to privacy.  

While I respectfully disagree with both of those ideas, I get where they come from. As a child, I felt an ENORMOUS amount of pressure to achieve and be perfect... Much of it stemming from my own personality (think typical type-a first born and very shy). My perfectionist tendencies were encouraged and praised often. So in the times that I failed, or perceived that I had failed, I was crushed. I still remember the first time I had to change my behavior card in 3rd grade. My teacher used the stop light behavior system of 3 cards- green, yellow, and red. My card was always on green, until one day I got a little too enthusiastic in my conversation with a neighbor. My teacher, Ms. Lindeman, calmly and silently flipped my card to yellow, and there was an audible gasp from my classmates. I'm sure I turned a few shades of red and don't doubt that I wanted to hide. But I learned my lesson and moved on. The truth is that Ms. Lindeman is still by far my favorite teacher, and much of what I do as a teacher has been inspired by her.  So as hard as that moment was, it didn’t leave lasting damage. 

I'm of the opinion that kids crave structure and consistency, and that they need accountability and consequences. Can these things be applied too harshly? Yes, which is why it is all about balance. For me that balance is in the Clip Chart. Yes, it is a record of mistakes, but it's also a record of victories. Yes, it requires kids to be publicly accountable for their mistakes, but that was often the only consequence necessary to steer them back to positive behavior. Now I'll be the first to admit it doesn't work for every kid, or every class. Nothing ever does.

So while I will always use a big, beautiful Clip Chart, I know that some teachers and parents prefer a more private version. So I’ve created a personal sized version of the Clip Chart, so that each student can keep one at their desk instead of using a large displayed version. Now their behavior can be just between you and them. The packet includes Clip Charts in black-line (students can color the levels), bright polka dot, or bright chevron prints. I’ve also included a behavior reflection sheets and certificates. You can purchase the personal sized Clip Chart here.



  1. Hi, you've been nominated for a Liebster Award! I love your site! http://www.thecharmingmisfit.com/uncategorized/liebster-award/

    1. Awesome! So exciting. Your site is super cute! I love, love, love the wooden background.