A Simple Way To Keep Track Of Consequences

Smart Classroom Management: A simple Way To Keep Track Of ConsequencesFirst off, I don’t think it’s terribly important how you keep track of consequences.

It’s just important that you do.

You never want to be caught flatfooted if a parent asks why their child was in time-out last Tuesday.

You also want to be ready if an administrator or counselor inquires about a student’s behavior.

It’s best to have the documentation to support your opinions.

But because it’s an oft-requested topic, I thought it was high time we covered it. What follows isn’t the only way to keep track of consequences.

It’s just a simple one.

Go low tech.

There are many options for documenting misbehavior, but I’ve found that a simple class roster and a clipboard to be a good way to go.

There is something about seeing the teacher’s handwritten notations from the very day misbehavior occurred that makes it seem more reliable and impressionable to parents.

A clipboard is also easily accessible and won’t make you appear to be texting or checking your email during class.

Track one month at a time.

Print out a roster or spreadsheet that includes one small square per student per day and covers a period of one month.

Because the form is dedicated to behavior only, you don’t need much space to record how many times and how often a student broke a rule.

Simple checks, dots, or vertical lines to represent each incident of misbehavior will do. You’ll make these marks within seconds of the misbehavior occurring or as soon as you’re able.

Include an explanation page.

Slip a sheet or two of notebook paper under the roster so you can include notes regarding any repeated, unusual, or severe misbehavior.

Because a warning is a courtesy to students, you won’t need to describe a first and only incident of misbehavior occurring within a single day—although you certainly can.

If you send a student to time-out or contact parents, however, you’ll want to jot down a description of what rule or rules were broken. This can be done after the school day ends.


3/2 – Aronson, called out without raising hand, warning. Pushed while lining up for lunch, time-out.

3/5 – Sellinger, talked during lesson, warning. Talked again during lesson, time-out.

For severe misbehavior, or misbehavior that involves more than one student, you may have to write more complete descriptions.

Expose The Truth

When the month is out, clip the form and accompanying notes together and place them in a file for safe keeping. Begin a new set on the first day of each month.

When you conference with parents, you can show them your documentation as a means of expressing concern, opening dialogue, or explaining why their child earned the grade(s) they did.

Being able to reference your marks and notes regarding behavior from any day of the year engenders trust and confidence in you.

It shows that you’re on the ball and that your opinions and observations are accurate and supported by eyewitness descriptions. It helps you avoid the confrontations, skepticism, and questioning of ability that plague so many teachers.

It exposes the truth in black and white and supports the SCM philosophy of shifting responsibility for listening, learning, and following rules over to students.

Where it belongs.

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28 Responses to A Simple Way To Keep Track Of Consequences

  1. Emily February 27, 2016 at 9:40 am #

    I have a note section on mine and it’s useful. For my personal reasons I prefer the clipboard and roster, yet the Spanish teacher who comes in for an hour made her own color-change chart. I make note of what happens there just to keep things in order.

    I think I shall edit mine to a month plan.

  2. Steph February 27, 2016 at 12:32 pm #

    Thanks Michael, sometimes it’s good to have the simple things pointed out while you’re absorbed tackling the bigger picture! I keep a similar low-tech sheet for each student with each key learning area in it for simple anecdotal notes or comments, which are very useful come interview or report time. Mostly I get the chance to scribble them down! 🙂 Regards, Steph

    • Michael Linsin February 27, 2016 at 1:32 pm #

      You’re welcome, Steph. Thanks for sharing.


  3. Lisa February 27, 2016 at 1:40 pm #

    This is such a powerful method. I have been using something like this substitute teaching. I make a seating chart and keep it on a clipboard. I make notes of GOOD behavior on it but the kids don’t know that. Many of them think I’m writing down names of kids that are misbehaving. They FEAR my clipboard for some reason. When I look at them and start writing they quickly come to attention. I do tell them that I am looking for good behavior so I can tell their teacher the ones that had a good day. I do leave a list of kids that the teacher can reward when when returning. I also make notes of things the teacher really needs to know about if there are unacceptable behavior issues- so it’s also used in that way for consequences. IT WORKS!

  4. Renee' February 27, 2016 at 2:20 pm #

    I teach Middle School and keeping track of the behavior, missed homework, and being unprepared for class for 7 different classes can be challenging. I too have adopted the clipboard method. Using a sheet a month per class helps me make a quick recording of the infraction and the date it occurred.
    It also help with being accurate for conduct grades for report cards.

  5. Denise Elkins February 27, 2016 at 3:11 pm #

    Thanks Michael. I love the simplicity of this system. I’m wondering though if you are keeping track using a class roster, when you meet with a parent to show them documentation of behaviors, the parent will be able to see the other students on the roster with possible behavior documented. Which of course would not be good. Am I misinterpreting how it is set up? Thank you for your help.

    • Michael Linsin February 27, 2016 at 4:13 pm #

      Hi Denise,

      You just place a piece of paper above and below the child’s line.


  6. teacher alam February 27, 2016 at 7:24 pm #

    awesome..simple is often best…i too keep a clipboard and all rosters…i teach computers for 24 classes covering 500 students weekly…so i always write stuff down…plus u right. it shows authenticity if and when reviewed when written down on paper.
    i also have a date stamp that i stamp away…shows added visuals. some parents are always arguing their child is the best and so on..so when an offense occurs, i write it down and document it. even if a child comes to class late or misses homework etc.

  7. Rachel February 27, 2016 at 9:55 pm #

    So true! I have my middle school students write a 3-sentence paragraph about the misbehavior. Sent. 1- what rule was broken? Sent. 2- How was it broken? & Sent.3- How can I fix the problem in the future? I have them sign and date it. They are keeping track of their own behavior, in their own words. I keep the paragraphs and when I get three I can choose to send copies to my principal, call home, or have a conference any time I need to. All with very little documentation on my part.
    It also doesn’t stop my teaching. I can simply say, ” John, will you write me a paragraph on number three?” and go on with teaching.

  8. Aaysha February 28, 2016 at 8:27 am #

    Thank you, valuable tips as a NQT I will be trying this in my next lesson.

  9. Tanya Kolkema February 28, 2016 at 12:08 pm #

    Have any of you created a sheet that you’d be willing to share? Why reinvent the wheel… ? 🙂

    • Ashley August 24, 2016 at 1:06 pm #

      I would also really appreciate a visual of this! Were you able to make/obtain one yet?

  10. Domenic Panza February 28, 2016 at 8:51 pm #


    I truly appreciate your simple approach to classroom management, and this is just another example of how educators can keep it simple and improve effectiveness. In my years of teaching I seem to always be looking for ways to simplify and this is an efficient strategy to improve important aspects of the classroom.

    I want to specifically comment on the idea that at times “low tech” is the way to go. As I continue to pursue a master degree in classroom technology I am constantly presented with unique tools to create a fun and engaging classroom by using technology to our advantage. However, at times teachers overuse technology. For example, I have used excel spreadsheets to keep track of behavior and missing or late homework. Yet, I always struggle to keep up with the required entering of this information. At the same time using this technology has nothing to do with creating an engaging learning environment for the students. In which case I have realized that it is OK at times to step away from the computer and use low tech features such as the one you describe in this post.

    I still see the benefits of electronic documentation, but it is sometimes hard to document all information when all you you potentially need is a quick note that an infraction was committed. As you discuss multiple times on this blog, there is a need for balance. In this case there is a balance needed for technology integration and low tech features to create an effective classroom environment.

    • Michael Linsin February 29, 2016 at 7:45 am #

      Well said, Domenic. Thanks for sharing your insight.


  11. Greg February 28, 2016 at 11:23 pm #

    I’d like to recommend a free app for iphone or IPAD called ” Class Dojo”. It can be used to keep track of good behaviors and off task as well. It has been a useful tool for me,but by no means a substitute for sound classroom management as found on this site.

    On a different note, Michael I am very excited about your new book! I am hoping it will be released in Kindle format as well.

    • Michael Linsin February 29, 2016 at 7:46 am #

      Hi Greg,

      Yes, it will. And unlike earlier books, the e-version of The Happy Teacher Habits will be released at the same time.


  12. Greg February 29, 2016 at 12:22 pm #

    Great news about e-version! I love the title, too:)

    I just read Domenic’s post after I posted mine. I agree with his points. In this case I do use my IPAD to document the behavior quickly and it also gives a positive or negative sound effect which has had an almost Pavlovian effect on the class- in a mostly positive way. I can edit the categories I want to document so to keep it simple. I have also used the clipboard as well. I started with clipboard for a month which then led me to the Class Dojo. Either way is good for me.

    While it has been helpful, the core is still sound classroom management as always found here.

  13. Kathrynne February 29, 2016 at 2:24 pm #

    I was going to send an email to ask about this, but it looks like it was kind of answered here. If the first rule broken by a child is different than the second rule they broke, do they get a warning or a time-out for breaking the second rule? To clarify, do they get a warning for each rule they break? I wouldn’t think so because that would kind of lend itself to unlimited chances, but I thought I’d ask. Thanks!

    • Michael Linsin March 1, 2016 at 7:53 am #

      Hi Kathrynne,

      Yes to your first question. It doesn’t matter what rule was broken.


  14. keley March 1, 2016 at 6:07 am #

    Hello michael,

    Today I had a new experience as a teacher, because one of my students wanted to explain and present sth to class, I went and sat in the seat of that student , I felt how much stressfull is sitting on that chairs , what can I do to decrease this stress of students.

    students: 13 & 14-year-old boys

    class size: 30 students.

    thank you.

  15. Barbara March 4, 2016 at 3:09 am #

    I use the format in the “Together Teacher” CD, which is basically a Word document set in table format to create four large rectangles on each page. I label one rectangle for each student. So yes, I print several pages to cover the entire class. But that way I have more room to write so I can also include observations about academics, learning styie and such as well. Also, I can cut the sections apart for student files. When I need to verify a situation for a parent, I’m not displaying notes on any other student.

  16. Mike F May 25, 2016 at 8:11 pm #

    Basic idea to carry around a roster of class names for one month. However the article is lacking in specifics. What specific behaviors do I need to put in the columns that can be created?

  17. Crystal June 16, 2016 at 12:29 am #

    I’m obsessed with your website! I discovered it only a few days ago and have read post after post! All are very well written, in a clear concise way with endless tricks and tips. Thank you!!!

    Are there any posts on Parent- Teacher Conferences?

    I love the site and am an advid reader!

    • Michael Linsin June 16, 2016 at 7:23 am #

      Hi Crystal,

      It’s my pleasure! I’m glad you found us. We don’t have an article specific to conferences, but we’ll put it on the list of future articles. Thanks for the suggestion.


  18. Katie August 2, 2016 at 7:14 am #

    What is your opinion on having students change a color clip for each consequence they receive? I know many people believe the public display is more harmful than helpful, but it does provide a visual for the little ones and an easy way to communicate daily behavior to parents.


    • Michael Linsin August 2, 2016 at 7:55 am #

      Hi Katie,

      I think with clip charts the teacher should do the changing. I’ll be sure and put this topic on the list of future articles.


  19. Meredith August 9, 2016 at 5:11 pm #

    I am really enjoying your material, and cannot wait to put it into action in a couple weeks. I teach 8th grade and just downloaded your high school guide. My question is: Do you use the letter home as a third offense consequence with the high school point system? It seems that it would not make sense to take a point away with each level of consequence, then also send a letter home. I would love to hear your thoughts on this! Thanks!

    • Michael Linsin August 10, 2016 at 8:07 am #

      Hi Meredith,

      There is no letter home with the high school plan. However, the consequences that are outlined in the plan do run concurrently with the points system.


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