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Putney, ’95, outlines unique classroom management system

What do classroom jobs, imitation currency and interest earnings have in common?

They’re just some of the instructional tools that anchor P.O.W.E.R.F.U.L., a revolutionary classroom management system for elementary grades that alumnus Mark Putney, ’95, introduced to Fredonia teacher candidates at a recent program hosted by the College of Education’s Office of Field Experiences.

More than 100 Fredonia students gathered in McEwen Hall in mid-November to learn about Mr. Putney’s system that focuses on student learning as opposed to negative behavior. Through P.O.W.E.R.F.U.L. (Provide Opportunities with Economic Results for Underage Learners), a teacher creates a classroom token economy that aligns real-world economic incentives with desired classroom outcomes through the use of simulated money.

At the beginning of each school year, students apply for posted classroom jobs. They undergo interviews and are eventually “hired” by their teacher according to their strengths, so that they can achieve success early in the school year. After being “paid” with classroom money — every two weeks— students can then spend their income at the class store, or save it and earn interest to increase their cash balance. They can even donate it to a worthy cause, chosen by the class. Job roles created by the students and the teacher switch every quarter (roughly 45 days) throughout the school year.

The system teaches students how to give, save and spend their money wisely. To demonstrate how this all comes together, Mr. Putney gave specific assignments or tasks to three Fredonia students during the presentation.

“One specific example…was when a student once was torn about whether to buy something at the class store, or to save her money and gain interest on that money. Ultimately, she decided to not spend her money, and instead saved it so that she could buy a different item that cost more at a later time,” Putney explained. “This is a great example of teaching about delayed gratification.”

The goal of the Fredonia seminar was to help future primary, elementary, special education and TESOL teachers create a tailored management resource tool that can be applied readily in their own classrooms. “These techniques will be extremely helpful for preventing behavior problems and maintaining a creative and positive classroom environment,” Putney explained.

Through Putney’s seminars, teachers learn how to teach with passion, build character in the classroom through the value of hard work, and become as efficient as possible throughout the school day.

Putney, a graduate of Fredonia’s Educational Development Program, said his classroom system focuses on integrity, character, perseverance, skill building and passion about what students might want to do as a career later in life, all while still learning the rigorous curriculum. An elementary teacher in the Fredonia Central School district, he has taught in public schools for 18 years.

Mr. Putney’s appearance was part of the College of Education’s “Topics in Education Workshops,” hosted by the Office of Field Experiences each semester. Director AnnMarie Loughlin brings to campus school professionals who are passionate about a specific topic. Ideas for sessions typically originate from teacher candidates and have included classroom management, educational law and technology
in the classroom, among others.

“This was the second classroom management workshop that we organized this fall,” Ms. Loughlin said. “Having 70 to 100 teacher candidates attend a two-hour workshop voluntarily on a Friday afternoon says a great deal about our students.”
Putney will return in the spring for a hands-on workshop related to his unique program.

posted @ Thursday, January 22, 2015 12:13 PM by Pamala Colon

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