What is classroom management?
Well, according to wikipedia (I know, we, as teachers, never let our kids site this source!), it’s a term that teachers use to discuss how smoothly a lesson runs despite possible disruptive behavior. It also can mean how to prevent disruptive behavior. Well, as a teacher in my 9th year of teaching, and sixth different school, with massively different socio-economic student populations, I still struggle with managing the behavior in my classroom!
And, by the end of the third quarter, I was at my wits end!
How did I change the discipline in my class?
Well, unfortunately, our school does not have a set policy for discipline. Thus, when a student deems it necessary to throw something across the room or at someone, there is really no consequence. Teachers have their own methods, which, of course, vary by teacher/class/grade level/etc…BUT that means no consistency or continuity for the students. As a Middle School teacher, I find it absolutely NECESSARY to have boundaries. But, I was at a complete loss as to what I could do! I’d already been asking administrators where the school discipline policy was only to be told that “we had good kids and didn’t need one”. AND, lunch/after school detentions weren’t changing the behavior I was seeing in class. So, I changed my discipline methods. Here’s what I did and how it’s working so far…
What EXACTLY did I do?
Well, with my grade 6’s, I actually went through the whole process of problem solving with them. This process was taken from How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk. If you haven’t read this book, and don’t have time yet, check out my freebie poster here. Basically, it went something like this:
It was working, too! Until a student pointed out that it felt like I was always waiting on the students to make a mistake and “catch” them. Thus, moving them down the path of consequence. Therefore, I had to change my strategy. I wanted to “catch” my students doing appropriate things; things that made me proud; things that were benefiting their education; behaviors that would one day help them to become role models in society. So, my journey toward pointing out positive ways my students were interacting in class had begun.
After reading Unconditional Parenting: Moving from Rewards and Punishments to Love and Reason, I also didn’t want to give rewards. I fully believe that some students legitimately need rewards to jump start that motivation but the ultimate goal is to help students be more aware of themselves and more intrinsically motivated for their own well-being.
So, what did it look like?
After quite a bit of thinking (and pinteresting), I figured out how to help my students correct their own behavior (by changing discipline strategies) without having to say a word! I simply move my student names to the appropriate area of the board to indicate to them what I see. My hope is that eventually I can trust them to help me move people as they are also astute observers.
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How is it working?
I have noticed a HUGE change in how long it takes students to start class. As they walk in, I greet them and begin moving their names to the appropriate places. Throughout class, students will comment to me that I need to move their name because now they are refocused, or working hard, or respecting others. Do I still have minor issues? Of course. But, the amount of major and minor issues has drastically decreased. Don’t believe me?
Your Challenge: Try your own version of this activity. Implement it for at least a week (yes, you can start at the end of the year, I did!). Comment with your results!
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