Classroom management is one of those things that can make or break a teaching career.
It’s a bigger deal than I think I even realized when I first started teaching.
The lack of it can steal your joy quicker than butter melts on hot toast.
People who have it can make miracles happen with students under the worst of circumstances.
Let me tell you that systems come and go…but nothing works better in your classroom than consistency.
Today, moreso than ever…teachers have more access to ideas than when I started teaching 20 years ago. Teachers are inundated with ideas–both good and bad. The pressures on teachers currently in the classroom has ramped up the demand for ideas…hence the popularity of blogs, Pinterest, and Teachers Pay Teachers. Ideas from organizational tools to units of study are shared –both free and at a cost–to the delight of overworked and underpaid teachers everywhere.
I’ve bought, sold and shared for free quite a few ideas myself since the blogger boom started! I am as grateful as anyone else for the support that I’ve gained over the last five years particularly. Among the top searched concepts is management. Teachers and companies have answered. There are clip charts and brag tags. There are hand signals and anchor charts. There are even people who’ve developed apps for noise. Of course, where there are ideas, there are opinions. I’ve written my fair share of posts on management systems. I wrote one on clip charts.
You may have read my post on Class Dojo,
Here’s my one on using character ed to support your management goals.
It’s not SYSTEMS that kids remember…its your APPLICATION of that system that makes the difference.
It is why one teacher can use a clip chart and have phenomenal management, and the teacher next door who uses the same system doesn’t get rehired the next year because she couldn’t maintain control of her students.
There are some basic tools that all good classroom managers have. The more CONSISTENT you become with those tools, the easier it will be to manage the classroom you are in.
I recently changed schools. In my previous school managing the children was pretty easy, to be honest. In my new construct, I’ve had to be much more creative. 🙂 There are schools where kids don’t just give you authority because you are the teacher. You have to EARN it by building a culture, showing up every day, and adding value to the educational process. When I first started teaching, my authority as the teacher was not questioned…today, I have to establish it. Here are some of the things that I refocused on this year to help me manage the challenges present in my classroom. These are things you can do TODAY that will begin to change the trajectory of your classroom.
Stay on schedule. Don’t over plan. Find ways to streamline what you are doing so that you can get a good rhythm going. Often, students who are disruptive are doing that to stop the flow so that they can escape work. Making sure that you keep a good daily flow and hold kids accountable for the work that you expect will show your students that you are serious about the expectations you have for them and that they need to meet them.
One of the ways I help myself stay on schedule is with long range plans. Here are the ones I am using this year. They are NOT editable. The ones I did for first grade can be found on THIS blog post. This year, since I am at a school that expects common grading, I have sheets included for the grades I’ll be taking this year. It just helps me be able to look ahead and see what I need to do.
As tough as it may be at times, resist the urge to yell. I know that there are days where it will be really, REALLY tough…but once you start to use that as a strategy…you’ll go to it more often than not. Try to use lots of different tones in the classroom…whisper directions…say the directions in an accent…sing them a question in your best opera voice…yell when you are reciting an important part in the text…but DON’T yell out of frustration. This post from Cult of Pedagogy offers some great points and ALTERNATIVES to yelling. Check it out!
I can not over state the importance of building relationship with your students. The ones who are the TOUGHEST would benefit the MOST from more non-academic time with you. Talking to them about what THEY are interested in. When I first started teaching, many of the students were still having dinners at home at a table. Now, that is not the case. With more parents working, and students participating in a myriad of after school activities, there are many students who are rushing from one activity to another and having much less one on one talk time. Angela Watson over at the Cornerstone for teachers has a great post on building relationship with learners.
Parents are important. Full stop.
I know that many of us work in places where parents may not be participating in the process of their children’s education as they should. We ALL know about schools like that. Bottom line, we can’t stop trying to reach them. Sometimes, it is the parents of the most difficult students that we can not reach. Getting them to buy into participating for the sake of their children is HUGE. The best way that I know of to rope in even the most difficult parents is positivity. Calling them for POSITIVE things–even little accomplishments of their children is HUGE.
Another thing that I try to do throughout the year is participate in programs. Who doesn’t love to see their kid shining in a program? EVERY PARENT. Every year, I do a pretty big one on the Underground Railroad. The students memorize poems and songs. Then we present them to the parents along with the other artifacts of our learning.
This year, at my new school, my potential specialist has introduced me to parent participation ideas on other topics. This year, we had each student do a diorama for a multi-cultural celebration that included food from Latin American countries. My students were drafted to make salsa! 🙂 It was AMAZING! I need to write a post on that for you guys! One of my boys won for most original project! He did his on Panama…which is where my family is from! 🙂 I was so proud! 🙂 Several teachers participated in making the evening a success for the students. We ran games…gave out prizes…and I even got to run a face painting station! 🙂
I hope that you’ll keep the four T’s in mind this week with your learners! 🙂 These are some of the best ways that I know of to help create a positive culture in the classroom that results in much better management. Remember that no matter WHAT style of program you use in your classroom…CONSISTENCY is key! 🙂
Let’s continue to do this work together!