Team Points for Classroom Management: How to do it & Why it Works!

In my classroom management, I like to implement systems on three levels of accountability: hold students accountable individually, as teams/ small groups, and as a whole class.  This is how I use team points for small group accountability: 

How I use team points in my own classroom:

-teams of 4 are optimal because it’s two partnerships. Also, it’s small enough where everyone is accountable, but big enough that there’s not too much pressure on any one student.

-the teams have their desks together and sit together when other grouping is not in place.

-teams work together to earn points.

-the points are recorded on the board or on a chart so everyone can see them .

-only I can award team points. However, I can invite another teacher to give their opinion on which team/s have earned points. This keeps other teachers from completely taking over your own system, but allows for some continuity.

-the team with the most points at the end wins a prize. If it’s really close, I might award two teams. Or, if one team staged a huge comeback, I sometimes reward them for turning the ship around as well.

-immediately after the winners have been named, move the students into new teams.

-the winning team is responsible for erasing all of the previous points from the chart. That way, it’s ready for a fresh start. (Because they are leaders, and leaders show responsibility for the whole group!)

Switching to new teams:

-during the first month or so, prizes are awarded after a week. Then, we switch to new teams.

-once students have ‘bought in’ and the system is in place, switch over to awarding prizes after two weeks. I like to take advantage of a shorter school week to say, “Oh, this is a short week, let’s keep these teams until the end of next Friday instead.” That works really well as a trial for the longer time period.

-there’s an editable map (in PowerPoint) of our classroom that I use to create new teams by moving the students’ names around.  I keep it secret until it’s time for the students to switch into new teams. Then, I project it onto the board and let the students move their desks to match the map. Of course, you have to also teach them how to safely move their desks. In my class, they had to work together with two people moving one desk. They also had to make sure to watch out for each others’ fingers and pick the chairs up to move them instead of sliding them all over the floor.

Why the team poinst system works so well (for me):

-Moving the students so frequently helps the kids get to know each other. This creates a stronger bond and class culture.

-If parents (or students!) are upset about their seat placement, I can just remind them that it’s only for (at most) ten school days. After that, they will be moved to a different spot with a different partner and different team.

-Almost all of the responsibility for running the system is on the students. They move their desks, they set up the team points chart, and they can even collect their own prizes (if you set up a system for it). The teacher just needs to award points and make the new seating chart by moving the names around on the slide.

This team points classroom management system grows with your students, as they mature and learn.

-In the beginning of the year, I spend a lot of time awarding points for things like: getting ready on time, listening, raising your hand (class participation is super important, obviously!), having your pencil, etc… You know, all that basic direction following and things we need to do to have order in the classroom.
As the students mature, I start to award points for things like: making sure your partner understands a concept, reminding your team to bring home their math book for the homework assignment, being honest even when it’s hard, making good choices, working hard to improve in something, or helping someone from another team clean their desk and get organized. At first, students will do these things to earn points, but eventually, it just becomes part of your class culture and part of who the students are as human beings.

-Building and reinforcing classroom management systems like team points will help save your sanity on those chaotic school days (Halloween?!!). Do your future teacher self a favor and teach your kids to get along and work together now.

Happy Teaching (with Teams)!!
Christine Cadalzo

PS: You can get my printable Team Points chart parts here, if you don’t want to make your own.