TTEE2 Hot Topic Email Discussion
Classroom Management is something that all teachers continue to develop no matter how many years they have in the classroom. The experienced teacher has learned that what works for one group, may not work for another. We are always tweaking and refining whatever it is that we do.
There are some strategies that are the standard for good classroom management that excellent and innovating teachers practice in their classrooms. In addition to having high expectations, teaching procedures and consistency, they also utilize many of the strategies in the links below. Check them out.
1. Edutopia New Teacher Academy Week 1 Video A clever intro video on the subject of classroom management. See embedded video below.
2. Room Arrangement for Class Management Fred Jones on how to arrange your classroom for optimal proximity, which is key to good classroom management. If you want to learn more, please check out Fred Jones Toolkit for Teaching in your school’s professional library. The full video set is available for check out from the district professional library located in the Greenville Elementary Library.
After taking some time to check out the resources above, what are your impressions? Is there something that you have tried or want to try with your classroom? Let us know what you think!
I agree with the resources below that students are individuals. You cannot treat each student the same when it come to behavior. In my classroom I try to keep the students on task and always have something for them to do. They always have their reading bag of books to pull a book out and read. This would happen during transition periods. The students know if they are not doing anything they should get a book out and read. In the beginning I have set my expectations for the class. As the sites below said as well. I wanted to make sure my students knew what is expected of them. I am going to keep my diverse thinking of tackling individuals behavior. One idea may work for one student but not another. I like to get to know the students to see what their likes and interests are and work from there on a behavior plan. I am always looking to improve my classroom management!
I believe that classroom management is essential for a productive classroom. This starts by having the classroom positioned in a way that will allow for optimum learning and observation. I agree that the resources listed below were very helpful to look at. Having prepared materials for students to work on during idle time is key to keeping a distraction free classroom. Also, having classroom rules and expectations displayed for the students to see is helpful. Everyday I write out the event schedule for the day, the students often will ask me what we are doing and I will simply point to the board. I believe that without this displayed schedule, several of my students would lose control, due to anticipation and nerves.
I have found a major key to successfully handling your classroom is to know your students and their learning styles. Students are more engaged in activities geared to their learning styles. Being organized and structured is vital too. Most students can't handle down time. Routines are important. Students have a sense of security when routines and environments don't change.
With several instructions in my classroom, it can be a challenge to keep all students on task, challenged and behaving appropriatly. Last year, I felt like I was just keeping my head above water in these areas. Changing mistakes from last year and honing those positive strategies has helped this year go much smoother. Starting off the year with high expectations, and REPEATING them daily has helped keep the classroom and happy and safe environment for the students. I also took a class on Behavior Management last summer and using ideas generated from the many other teachers who shared their successful interventions.
Something I've done the past couple of years is given my students an interest inventory and learning styles inventory. I find that knowing what my students are interested in and showing them that I care how they learn (and adapting my lessons to their learning styles), helps develop a relationship between myself and my students. That old teaching adage, they don't care what you're teaching until they know you care can be applied here. Building that rapport of mutual respect is critical in classroom management.
Greenville High School
U.S. History Teacher
Varsity Soccer Head Coach
"Wisdom is the power that enables us to use knowledge for the benefit of ourselves and others." -Thomas J. Watson
Classroom management has a lot to do with allowing the students to realize that you, as the teacher, will treat students with respect. At the junior high level this carries a lot of weight. Students are more likely to treat the teacher and other students respectfully when that atmosphere is set by the teacher.
Terri, Social Studies Teacher
Greenville Jr. High
I have found that classroom management plays a very vital role in my classroom. With PE being a class where the students are up and moving, having structure and a routine every day is very important. At the beginning of each school year (and reminders daily) we go over classroom expectations and daily routines. Daily procedures has been an important part of my classroom expectations because every student knows exactly what to do as soon as they enter the classroom. I agree with others when they stated that classroom management leads to respecting the teacher as well as their classmates, and it shows the students that the teacher will show them the same respect! I'm always looking for new classroom management ideas and ways to improve mine daily.
Physical Education Teacher
Greenville Elementary School
I think that classroom management and student achievement go hand in hand. When students know what is expected of them, it helps them focus on the task rather than play the "what can I get away with" game. I know that my classroom management changes/grows from year to year. Plus, being in the co-teaching environment all day, I tweak it depending on the class and co-teacher. A past college professor told me "being fair isn't giving everyone the same thing, it's giving everyone what they need." All students need solid structure and consistency, but that may look different from class to class.
I think without good classroom management there is very little teaching that can take place. The students need to know what is expected from them and have high expectations set right from the start. In order to get the most from each student the classroom environment needs to be consistent and adapt to their needs. This year I have a wonderful class but struggle with some talking or staying on task issues. I simply say key words to the class or the individual, if needed, in order to remind them about making the right choices. So far this year, giving them choices and adapting to their needs has helped my classroom in this area. I have also found that being able to connect and treat my students with respect allows them to keep their dignity as an individual and feel more comfortable to ask questions, participate in class and cooperate in the classroom.
I have experimented quite a bit with seating arrangements and have read Fred Jones's suggested models. Depending on your students and your style of instruction, room arrangement should change accordingly. He has some good classroom layouts in his book to give you ideas on optimal ways to set up your class per your instructional method. On a completely personal note, I like to change the desks a couple times a week, just for the sake of switching it up. I believe the best learning takes place when your uncomfortable, and sometimes our students get a little too comfortable where they're sitting, which is usually when you start to have students testing their limits. Randomizing their seating arrangement and having students sit next to students they are not used to sitting to, tends to keep them on task more.
Greenville High School
U.S. History Teacher
Varsity Soccer Head Coach
As everyone has stated, classroom management is an important aspect of a classroom. I think it is very easy to not praise those kids that are on task doing what is expected of them. So often, I think those kids with the negative behaviors get more of my time, even though I don't intentionally mean to do that.
To help with this, I have a behavior clip chart that I am using this year. I like this clip chart because students can move up, down, or both in the course of the day depending on their behavior over the day. This chart helps remind me that those good kids need more positive reinforcement for being "good" kids.
My chart is a rainbow colored chart:
Green-Ready to Learn
In my world of "Kinderland" this is working very well this year. It is also beneficial that first and second grade have the same behavior management system so once the kids learn it, they know the expectations for the next couple years :)
Of course, there have already been a ton of great ideas posted which I agree with and try to mimic on a daily basis. I always liked the idea of rearranging the classroom or setting it up physically for learning. Unfortunately, in my room there aren't a ton of options for placement of desks. Students like to feel in control in the classroom, as does the teacher. I think a lot of times pulling them aside or giving them a simple word for redirection can help, as previously stated. Discipline is tough; I don't think any of us wants to feel like a drill sergeant, but we don't want to be walked on either. I agree with finding a mutual respect with your students. This works well at the junior high level.
8th Grade Science
Greenville Junior High
I have found that when you adapt your lesson plans to fit areas of differentiated learning the classroom management problem seems to take care of itself. Students who take an interest in their own learning process rarely seek attention in other ways. It take a bit longer to set up at first but it is well worth it.
My classroom desks are set up in groups of 4. This allows for me to easily walk between my groups to observe what they are working on and/or redirect a child/ren. When I do things as simple as lining up I can say group 1 line up, 2, 3, etc. I like this set up because when I want my kids to have a discussion I ask them to turn and talk with their table mates. I too switch my kids from time to time (1-2 times a quarter) like Mike stated in the previous email. I can easily move children at any time to a different group if they are having a hard time paying attention or making good choices. My teaching style revolves around a focus lesson with time after, for children to discuss and explore together which makes this set up perfect for my room.
Something else that I started this year that has worked like a charm (I know this isn't anything new) is I have a set signal that lets my kids know that they need to stop what they're doing and look at me. When they are at the carpet and they are doing what I call "turn and talk" I clap twice and snap once and they stop their conversation, turn to me, and raise their hands ready to tell me what their buddy said. When I'm doing Daily 5/CAFE and it's time stop where we are I have chimes on my smartboard that I hit and the kids stop what they're doing, clean up, and come to the carpet. This of course didn't happen after one time of modeling but several weeks of talking about expecations, modeling and practicing. It's amazing how well this works and I'm so glad I stuck with taking the time to model and practice these.
1st Grade Teacher
I am trying some new things with my seating and my classroom management.
I now have group seating; this allows for easy group collaboration, particuluarly with those higher level classes that I have this year. I enjoy the opportunity to have short discussions with each group of students as I am passing papers out or checking up on them during group work time. It also gives me an opportunity to help students who, for some reason, aren't good listeners in a group setting and need that one-on-one "would you please repeat the instructions" chat.
However, it has its drawbacks with chatty groups that have a hard time coming to order. So, in some classes, I start a stopwatch when I am trying to get the students to come to order, and if I hit one minute of interruptions during that time, then they stay one minute past the bell (effective at the end of the last period!). Two minutes of interruptions equals two minutes past the bell, and if I go beyond that, that's when we start imposing consequences on the groups that are not coming to order when it's time to do so. It's at the point now where all I have to do is reach for the stopwatch and it takes all of two seconds for the class to come to order.
In the Pre-Calculus and Calculus classes, all I have to do is suggest that there might be a phone call home and that usually catches their attention in a hurry.
Even in the 28th year of teaching I put classroom management as a major component of the beginning of the school year. I sometimes feel like a stickler the first few weeks, but it is SOOO helpful the rest of the year to have procedures in place. Practice, practice, practice truly does help it to become 2nd nature.
If I were to generalize how I manage my classroom it would be PLANNING. If I have planned out, and thought about how a lesson/activity will go, it goes better than "winging it." (However, I do feel like I have "winged" some pretty impressive side tracks.) But, if I feel myself getting overwhelmed I know it's time to get things in order and laid out. It's worth an hour or 2 of "my" time to have the next 2 or 3 weeks sketched out and then planned in detail. Knowing where I'm headed makes things flow better.
Likewise, I try to let the kids know where we're going. Having a goal in sight and procedures to get us through the routines makes us all happier campers.
I agree. Planning and classroom management go hand in hand for success. I have tried different seating charts and end up with a few "tried and true" ones. There are ones I would like to try from Fred Jones, but when I get them set up, I realize that the room does not lend itself to the chart because of aisle space. I like to be able to move around throughout the room, which also keeps behavior and focus in check.
Classroom management is something I constantly self-evaluate. I do agree that a good lesson plan does tend to keep students focused and interested and then the management portion is much easier to handle.
5th Grade Teacher
Greenville Elementary School
As everyone has stated, classroom management is a very important part of teaching. In, P.E. it may be the most important part because if students are not following directions and staying on task, it could lead to injuries. I try to make sure I have a set routine for the students to follow each and every day. They come in and sit in the same spot everyday and they know what is expected of them when they enter. If I have problems durnig the class, I try to make sure the student understands the expectations right away so it won't happen again. I think this really helps keep the class under control and involved in the activity. I am always looking for new ways to help improve my classroom management as I believe nobody is ever perfect at managing a class.
P.E. Teacher Sorento/Pocahontas
Pocahontas Boys Basketball Coach
Greenville Jr. High Track Coach
My behavior plan is very similar to that of Tonya's. All students begin the day on green, and they are able to move up, down, or both throughout the day. I changed to this behavior plan over Christmas break of last school year. I noticed that I had a host of students who liked to do the right thing, and instead of being rewarded for good behavior, they simply stayed on green the entire day. When using the stoplight, my students simply walked into the classroom and were on green, if they did the right thing all day, they remained on this color. There wasn't really anything to work towards. This also allows students who often have difficult days to have something to strive for. With the plan I am using now, all students have something to work towards (positive reinforcement, words of encouragement, etc). I have also encorporated PBIS into this behavior plan--when the students are on green, blue, pink, or purple they receive Rocket Fuel.
I also have found, with not only an elementary ed background, but an early childhood background as well, re-directing the student in a positive format allows for positive change in that student's behavior. Instead of catching them doing something against expectations or classroom rules and discipling them immediately, re-directing them allows time for "fixing the situation". The student can realize that they are not doing the right thing, and it needs to be fixed immediately, or else they will move down a color. I have seen a big change in the overall behavior of my kiddos due to this way of classroom management.
First Grade Teacher
Greenville Elementary School
Like others have stated one of the most important pieces to managing a classroom is to have mutual trust and respect between you and your students. Over the first few weeks of school I have worked very hard to try and develop this bond with each and every one of my students. I make it a point to begin every lesson by just talking with the students. Rarely do we talk about classroom related things, most of time it turns into stories from the weekend, or what they did last night. The kids really love it, and I think that it shows them how I really do care about their lives outside of math class. Once you have a bond with your students it makes it much easier to manage a classroom
It took me years to learn what seems so obvious now. Set down expectations at the beginning of the year. Practice at the beginning of the year following those rules and expectations. Teach them, don't preach them. Reteach them when you feel it's needed throughout the year. Adjust them each year as you learn your students and classes. Enforce the rules equally and fairly.
One of the things that works for me is I want the students to see that this "teaching thing" is genuinely fun for me (and yes, it's still fun). If they only see me as a crabby old man who hates his work, they are less likely to enjoy the subject matter and their time with me. They may think I'm strange and goofy, but I probably am. Finally, I spend the time in between bells outside my door. First, it allows me to enforce a rule that students may not enter the classroom, put their books on the desks, then leave. It helps me to stop potential issues in the ahlls before they start. Most importantly, it allows me to converse with students, get to know them, let them know I care, and observe their interaction with classmates and other teachers in the halls. A good classroom, to me, starts outside my door.
This may seem like a small thing, but one of the things that has helped me is the simple location of my desk. I work at my desk, but I teach in front of the students. My desk is in the back and I rarely sit there. My podium (just for my stuff, not for me) is in the front. I move quite a bit, from side to side (maps and smartboards) and front to back (maps and wall photos, illustrations, etc.). I move between the rows to help involve students and I have been known to stand next to a desk to avoid discipline issues.
I have my classroom desks set up in a large U with a smaller U inside of it. This seating arrangement gives me room to walk around, monitor them on their net books easier, and leaves a large space in the middle of the room. If we are reading a book, or working out math problems on our whiteboards I will sometimes call the class to group up in that space. It allows the students to share their thinking in a closer space, while giving me proximity to monitor task work and behavior.
I really like Sheri’s use of a key word to bring the attention of her class together. This is something my mentor, Terri, and I have also talked about in our meetings together. It is a great, simple way to help with transition times and getting their attention. I plan on coming up with a “key word” with my class and start setting the expectations for what is to happen when this word is said!
5th Grade Teacher
"Develop a passion for learning. If you do, you will never cease to grow."
I have my desks set up in groups and I like this because I am able to walk all around the room to monitor all my students. I have also left room for my students to be able to gather at the front for reading a book or a morning meeting. I use the countdown starting with five for my transition but I also like the idea of using a key word and feel that incorporating that into my classroom management plan would help my transition times in between subjects.
4th Grade Teacher
Because most of my classes include 40-50 students at a time, classroom management is very important to avoid complete chaos in the music room. I have found that I have a greater bond with the students that I see multiple times a week, and therefore their behavior is much better than that of the students I only see once or twice a week. I'm trying to find ways to get to know those students better and help them get to know me so the time will be more productive and enjoyable for everyone involved. Because the groups are so large, they also tend to be very chatty. I'm going to experiment with the seating plan to see if there is a better setup that will help with the excessive talking. This is my biggest challenge so far, but I'm going to keep trying until I find a system that works.
Junior High Music
Classroom management has been a bit of a battle for me my first year. I think it is partly due to the fact that I am not that much older than most of my students and I am a female teacher. They are having a hard time seeing me as an authority figure. I have found that as I am getting to know my students better I can take a few steps to help increase my classroom management. I have found that having assigned seats is helpful especially after I have been able to see how students behave around other students. I can arrange them in a way that will be the least distracting and tempting for them to misbehave. Also, I have really been trying to make my way around the room more. I have found that if I just stay in the front of the room I tend to lose the kids in the back. So I am really working on moving around the room, which is a bit of a challenge because I have to keep going back to the front to advance the smart board, but if it helps keep everyone on task then it is worth it.
My last class of the day is especially unruly so I have been trying different tactics to try to get some order. My biggest struggle with them is getting the to quite down to start the lesson and keeping them from starting side conversations during the lesson. I recently started a bit of give and take with them. When I am ready to start the lesson I stand in the front of the room with my stopwatch. I start the timer and if it makes it over a minute before they get quite they owe me a minute after the bell. This seems to be very affective. Also, if they start to get off task during the lesson I just grab the stopwatch and it is usually enough to get them back on task. I hate to think that I am threatening them, but with it being the end of the day and all they want to do is talk about what's going on after school, it is sometimes necessary to get a little tough.