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Teacher: Brad Flaig who teaches at Belle Grove Elementary in Pasadena, MD. Brad Flaig can be contacted at

Name of Best Practice: The Penalty Box - Behavior Management

Rationale/Purpose of Event: By using this system the PE teacher is able to negate and eventually eliminate undesired behaviors without disturbing the class. This system also allows the teacher to keep a "written record" for the entire class.

Suggested Grade Level: K-2, 3-5, 6-8

Materials Needed: The Penalty Box- Area of the gym to send students for behavior management. Mine includes: 1. Two desks (wrapped w/ foam noodle to prevent injury in the event of a collision) with chairs. 2. 4 Gymnastics mats surrounding and establishing the boundaries of The Penalty Box. 3. Small File Cabinet to store reflection sheets or "Unable to particpate sheets" and pencils for students. 4. Record Book- 3 Ring Binder divided into 6 Seperate sections labeled by grade. k,1,2...5. Each section should have class list for that particular grade. 5. Signs identifying the space and "Gym Rules" 6. Student reflection forms, notes home to parents, and/or apology letter outlines for students to complete. The Penalty Box 1 -Picture of Time Out Area The Penalty Box 2 -Picture of Sheets Box The Penalty Box 3 -Picture of Steps Redbook Directions-PDF Apology Note-PDF Note Home-PDF

The Penalty Box - Behavior Management

As a teacher in a quick paced school (30 minute periods with ZERO transition time) I developed this behavior management routine to reduce my time wasted trying to keep up with issues that arose during class. By teaching "The Penalty Box" to my students at the start of the school year, they have learned how to use the system all the way down to grade one. It has allowed me to quickly eliminate behavior problems and more importantly keep an accurate written record of my student behaviors in the case of well... ever needing them. If you were to implement this program I would establish the ground rules at the start of a fresh year, I would not recommend starting mid-year and firmly believe that in doing so, the routine is destined for failure. Any teacher who is not firm and consistent in their behavior management increases their susceptiblility to failure in implementing this program. Prior to explaining the ins and outs of the system, I want to mention that my school has recently underwent a visit from the Fire Marshall and he had no qualms with the arrangement in my gymnasium regarding "The Penalty Box".

An Example-

I see a student pounding a tennis racket on the ground while I'm trying to explain an activity. I stop instructing, turn to that student and address "Jane, we are not allowed to destroy the equipment. Return your racket and Go sign the Red Book." Jane frowns and returns her racket, and walks to the Penalty Box. She opens the Red book, finds her page, and makes a mark. Afterwards she turns to the file cabinet beside her, pulls out a form and begins working. I continue to explain the directions for the next activity to the class and turn on the music, starting the activity. While the students are working I walk to Jane at the Penalty Box, recognize that she has placed her third check next to her name- indicating that she is required to fill out a reflection sheet before returning to class (Which she has already begun). I look at what she has written thus far and ask her why I sent her to the Penalty Box. Then I ask her what she could have done better and what will happen if she is sent to the Penalty Box again. I place a check next to where she initialed in the Red Book, indicating that she A: did in fact place a check in the book, and B: that she is prepared to return to class. Before she returns to class I date her reflection sheet and store it in my files in the event that I require them in the future, all taking less than one minute, and without disturbing the rest of the class as they are practicing.

Keys To Implementation:
Designate an area in the gym to create “The Penalty Box”. This area should be that students who are in the Penalty Box can witness all the instruction of the class but are generally out-of-view of other classmates to avoid distractions.
At the beginning of the school year establish clear rules and routines. Make your students aware, otherwise the system is pointless.
1. Establish steps of positive behavior reinforcement. Through some tweaking, I have come up with six steps for students.
1. Warning- student is explained to why they have been sent to the Penalty Box and return quickly.
2. Time-Out- Student spends less than 5 minutes “Cooling Down”.
3. Reflection- Student is required to fill out pre-developed reflection sheet about the behavior they exhibited or failed to exhibit. Teacher collects.
4. Apology Note- Students teacher is given a slip of available times for a “Recess Apology Note”. Student will return during recess period and write and apology note to the teacher for behavior. Teacher will sign and date to keep record.
5. Note Home- Teacher will have student fill in their name on pre-designed sheet making them aware that they have earned five marks and will get a letter sent home. Teacher will date, make photo-copies of all records on particular student and mail home (otherwise notes will never be delivered) to address kept by school.
6. Call Home- Teacher will have conference with student’s parents via telephone after school completion.
**It is extremely rare that students reach beyond step 3. Every now and again even the best students have a “Bump” in the road. I choose to refresh my Red Book every semester to give students a clean-slate. I also use the Red Book as one of my 3-5 grades each semester. You can establish your own criteria. Should a student pass step 6, administration should be considered.

--This also provides an area for students who are improperly dressed. Those students should have a pre-developed sheet to complete during regular Class.

When a student is sent to the penalty box it is vitally important that they understand why. Generally the student understands but on occasion you will hear that they have no clue. Use your judgment but make sure to work through the situation with the student. If they are uncooperative, continue to address the class and allow the student to be removed for a longer period, eventually they will cool down. Allow students to return to activity after they have fulfilled the demands explained by the step they are on in the Red Book.
When I created the Red Book, I thought about all the ways the students could expose the loopholes and I feel it is safe to say that I have come up with a nearly full-proof method of avoiding any mishaps.
First: Have the school organized in a 3 ring binder book by grade. Make sure there are empty slots to add in for students who come mid-year. Each class should have their own sheet of paper and be arranged in a graph. The students will clearly be able to identify their row, and where to put a check.
Second: Other than the students checking the book in pencil, the teacher should have a space besides each check the student makes to put their initials in PEN. This allows the teacher to verify that the student has not erased previous checks earned, and also keeps the students from checking other students rather than themselves. The student will be unable to erase the teachers Pen. Also this ensures that the teacher granted permission for the student to return to class, and that they are aware of what they are required to do.

My school is by no means an “Easy” school. This system works if the teacher is consistent. Teacher’s without a behavior system are at the whim of the students, and I have seen and experienced it myself, which has lead me to create the Penalty Box. While this system does take time to establish, you will be rewarded ten-fold in the change of your students.

The Penalty Box Picture

The Penalty Box File Cabinet Labeled


Teacher should modify their steps for the Red Book to fit their personal needs.
This system can be modified (and is ideal) for all cultural arts--PE, ART, MUSIC, and regular classroom teaching of all grades.

Teaching Suggestions/Tips:

Do not use exercise as a punishment! If you have large class sizes make sure your penalty box is safe where no one can get injured in that space. You can modify for your situation.

Adaptations for Students with Disabilities:

Modify as neccessary for your situation

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Posted on PEC: 2/21/2013 and has received 57 votes.

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Previous Comments:


This is a great idea! I am going to be a first year teacher at a K-8 school and I'm definitely using this strategy.


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