STEP 1 – PREP YOUR TAGS
Preparing and setting up your billets de fierté (which is what we have been calling brag tags in French) will take some time and work. I recommend picking a rainy day and setting up camp in your living room with a pot of freshly brewed coffee and some Netflix.
Just about any set of brag tags that you purchase will include many different options – especially if you have purchased a bundle of tags.
The first thing you will need to do is decide which tags will work for you, and how many of each you will need.
Which behaviours do you want your students to learn and show? Which are most important to you and your classroom environment?
There is no need to print them all if they don’t all work for you – and you don’t need to print hundreds of each tag either!
I do choose to print MOST of the tags. I love handing them out, and I like to have a wide variety of tags to avoid students being awarded too many doubles.
However, I don’t print tags that don’t work for my classroom setup (for example « pupitre propre » isn’t relevant to me, as my students don’t have desks) or the male teacher option when available. I print out just ONE page of each.
I only have 16 students, and there are 18 tags per page in my sets. I feel that it is unlikely that every student will earn every tag, so one page should be more than enough.
(Besides, if I start to run out of a particular tag during the year, it is so easy to just print and laminate that ONE page, rather than doing a hundred different pages at once. If I have extras of anything left over, I can save them for next year.)
Once you have chosen which tags you would like to print, get out your card stock and start printing! If it is more cost-effective for you, you may choose to print at Staples or another office supply store.
Another great option is to refill your ink cartridges at Costco for a MUCH lower price than buying new ones, or signing up for HP Instant Ink if your printer is compatible.
I also suggest laminating your tags if you want to reuse them. I let my students choose 5-10 to take home at the end of the year, but the rest come back to me to save on prep time for my next group.
I make sure to laminate them so that I know they will survive the year!
STEP 2 – PREP YOUR DISPLAY
Another decision to make is how you would like to display them, and what you plan to use to hold them all together.
In the past, I have bought inexpensive ball necklace chains on Amazon, but you could also use large binder rings or anything else you wanted that can hold a students’ collection together, and is easy to open and shut!
I have also made necklaces with my students and used shower rings for the tags. You can read all about that in THIS blog post – it is my favourite way to display them to date!
I display them on my bulletin board. Here is what it looks like before we make the necklaces/start earning tags:
My students all have a number on each of their supplies/boxes/baskets, and they will have one on the bulletin board as well. Underneath is a simple thumbtack that they can hang their necklaces on.
They will be on display all year long for everyone to see and celebrate! I find that using a number instead of their names is a simple reminder that we are not comparing ourselves to others – each student knows their own number, and they are only trying to self-improve and earn more as the year goes on.
Here is a peek at how they look a bit later on in the year:
Brag tags aren’t a competition against anyone else – they are all about self-improvement!
STEP 3 – STORE YOUR TAGS
The last piece of the setup puzzle is deciding how you would like to store your extra brag tags until you hand them out.
I am sure that there are as many ideas for this as there are stars in the sky – choose one that works well for you!
I purchased an organizer (pictured below) on Amazon.
If you want the same one, you can find it right here: https://amzn.to/2OHmbsT (affiliate link)
I just need to add labels so I can quickly find the tags I need, and I will be good to go! I will keep the organizer in a place that is easy for me to access as needed, but where my students won’t be tempted to touch ;)
STEP 4 – EXPLAIN
As with any successful behaviourial management system, communication is key – with both students AND parents. It is very important to have clear expectations, and to explain them to your students and their families.
This may be difficult at the beginning of maternelle, and require lots of miming and gestures, haha! Once a few students have earned their first tags, however, rest assured that the rest will catch on very quickly.
The main idea is that these tags will be used to congratulate students who make great choices and show some of the important character traits that we are trying to develop in our students.
This will help others easily see and understand which actions and choices lead to a positive, inspiring classroom environment that will help everyone succeed.
If you are planning on having other teachers/staff hand out tags to your students (for example, the music teacher or duty teachers), you should also explain the system to them.
I will give a few tags to all of the other specials teachers at the beginning of the year that are relevant to their subject and ask them to hand them out when a student is behaving exceptionally.
I will also give some to the teachers near my classroom, and those who have a duty to hand out when they catch my students speaking French outside of the classroom (always a challenge in a minority community!)
STEP 5 – NOTICE & GIVE
This step is pretty self-explanatory – the next step is to notice your students being awesome and handing out the tags! However, as simple as it seems, I do have a small strategy/piece of advice to share.
This is a set of mostly generic tags that you can use to reward your students for ANY great thing they do.
This is the set that I use to start the year. It is important that your students know and can explain why they have won a tag.
I don’t know about you, but my students in September cannot explain what showing integrity, being honest, showing empathy, etc. means. Therefore, it doesn’t yet make sense to give them tags that congratulate them on those qualities and behaviours specifically.
However, just because they don’t yet have the vocabulary to explain what empathy means, they still may show it and you still may want to reward them.
You can use a card from the Bravo! set to encourage them for doing the right thing, and they should be able to explain in their own words what they did to earn the tag.
Throughout the year, I will then gradually add other tags from other sets into the mix – teaching them along with our outcomes.
STEP 6 – CELEBRATE!
The most fun step of all! You will need to decide how you want to celebrate your students for earning their tags.
There are SO many possibilities for this step, and it is important that you choose one that works for you and your students.
I strongly encourage you to display your tags in a way that allows you to easily see if one child isn’t earning as many tags as the others – then you can be on the lookout for positive things they do and say to bring them back up.
You may decide to let your students wear their necklaces on days that they earn new tags, or have one day a week/month where ALL your students can wear them together.
You could call this « Journée porter et partager » for example, and do a little « montre et raconte » where your students can all explain to someone (the class, a reading buddy, another adult, etc.) how they earned their favourite tag, or their newest tag!
You may also decide – especially if you do student-led parent-teacher conferences already – to invite your students to attend parent-teacher with their parents and explain how they earned their tags.
They can talk about the ways in which they have shown great behaviour, and share which tags they are hoping to learn/what they will need to work on in order to earn them.
Another option is something I do – offer a little “bonus” reward for a certain number of tags earned. For example, after 25 tags, they could get to eat lunch with you.
I love having special one-on-one lunches once a year with my students, and if you don’t do this already, I highly recommend it!
During our wrap up at the end of each day, our whole class also applauds and cheers for students who have earned tags. I also give them a sticker that they can take home, so their parents know they have earned a tag, even though they can’t take their tags home that day.
I hope that this post has made a little more clear how to organize and implement les billets de fierté in your classroom!
While there is some initial work to get them set up, I truly believe that they are worth it. If done right, they can really encourage even our youngest students to be great little citizens and hard workers.
And, if you are still on the fence about giving brag tags a go, I have GREAT news!
I have a FREE set of five generic (aka useful for any time of year/rewarding ANY behaviour) brag tags that I can send you, so you can try prepping them and handing them out without needing to purchase first.
That way, you will be able to see if the full bundle will be worth the investment for you and your students.
Just enter your info below, and I will email you the freebie, and explain a bit more in detail about brag tags, why I think they are so great, and how I get them to work for me in my French kindergarten classroom.
I truly believe that anyone can use brag tags in maternelle to get their students excited about behaving and being their best selves. So why not give them a go?
Maybe someday you will even be able to play a successful ball game! ;) #dreambig