I hate tattlers.
Not the kids themselves, because I have always loved all of my students, even the tough ones, but tattling drives me nuts. It takes soooooooooo much time to deal with all of the complaints to the tattler's level of satisfaction, and it frequently involves other students in other classes, and none of it matters (thus why it is tattling and not just telling me about a problem).
So... something had to be done about it.
My first attempt was to bribe the kids not to tattle. I issued a rule that if anyone tattled on someone else (I have very clearly defined rules of what a tattling is) the tattler would have to pay the "victim" 5 class dollars (a relatively high fine).
If you are wiser than me at that time, you will know the result of that... and why it was such a bad idea.
"Johnny did this" says the tattler... "He owes me 5 dollars" says Johnny... or even better... "Sam was going to tattle on me so he owes me 5 dollars and he won't pay..." you get the picture. Bad, nightmare bad idea. It didn't last long.
One day I saw this:
(Click on the picture if you want to buy that, I didn't, as I will explain in a minute)
I am guilty of frequently seeing stuff in stores or online, being inspired by them, and then using handy programs such as word and Microsoft Publisher to make my own (cheaper) version of the product.
This is no exception.
The idea of writing down the message instead of telling me sounded like an amazing idea. They get to voice their concerns, and I don't have to spend 20 minutes after recess sorting out all of the incidents that happened during recess. I, like the turtle poster, made sure that kids know that if someone is hurt, they can bypass this system, but otherwise, write it down, and put it on my desk, and I will deal with it when I can.
With a little bit of training (so that I don't get 5 papers from students telling me what 1 girl said to 1 other girl), it has worked GREAT!
The kids are satisfied that they get to tell their story, and frequently forget about what they wrote down (I know this because the ones that I read and think... this is absolutely nothing... I just throw out, and plan to deal with if it comes up again... and it doesn't).
Another trick with this is that I usually "don't have time" until their next recess, or P.E.. When faced with dealing with the problem that happened at snack or getting to go play, I have had many kids decide that it wasn't a big deal or they had already made up, and then I don't have to spend any time on the problem.
So... if you have tattling kid problems like I do, I encourage you to try this in some form. My principal, in hearing about this idea, really liked it too, and he hopes that more teachers in my school will adopt this idea as well.