Classroom Management That Works
This year I will be in my second year of online mentoring through the University of Texas WINGS program with Jenny, a second year teacher here in Austin. I am also in my second year of mentoring my colleague, Jennifer Moody, who teaches first grade with me at Metz. Yes, that is three Jennifer’s between us! Thank goodness my apprentice teacher for this upcoming fall semester is named Molly or else I might have had to assign everyone a number like Christina did for her interns on Grey’s Anatomy!
I have a passion for working with new teachers and enjoy helping to guide them towards their own teaching style. I strive to give them a safe, relaxed place to learn and to ask any question they need answered. I show that I am also trying to acquire new skills, just like they are, and that the art of being a good teacher is that you learn from your mistakes.
Inevitably, new teachers are most worried about classroom management and I believe they have good reason to be. If you do not take the time to put a class management system in place from day one, you are setting yourself up for a very difficult nine months. I find that most first year teachers’ worry that they are behind their colleagues in lesson plans or that they aren’t teaching enough “important stuff”. They fail to understand that using the first several weeks of school to continuously review and reinforce their rules for respect, productive work and general “how to’s” is the most important thing they should be teaching during this time! By working on this with students, they are setting up a system that will allow the rest of their lessons to run smoothly and with maximum absorption of knowledge.
Expert teachers should have a classroom management plan that works for them, but that doesn’t mean it will work for you. My management plan took a couple of years to perfect, but once I had it worked out, I have never changed it and I recommend it to all first year teachers I have worked with. I tell them to try it, use what they can from it and adapt it for their own teaching style. My plan doesn’t take away from teaching time, it lays the responsibility on the student in a constructive manner and it gets the teacher in the habit of recording infractions so they have a back-up reference if any one student shows a pattern of poor choices. Most importantly, it rewards positive behavior, because this is where your focus should be in the first place.
I am posting a copy of the discipline letter that I send home to my student’s parents on the first day of school. Please feel free to use it and modify it in any way that you would like. I also discuss and show photos of my “Good Citizen” bulletin board on my Scholastic classroom video tour, so I highly recommend that you watch that so you can get a visual image along with the written description.
Check back throughout this month to find my follow up blogs to “Classroom Management”:
• Effective Praise
• Rewarding Positive Behavior: How can students earn extra stars?
• Discipline with Reasonable and Logical Consequences
• Documenting Student Infractions
• Nice Notes and Red Notes
• Making the Call: Have a student call a parent to report their behavior
• Quick Q&A (What are sad sticks, what is in your treasure box, what are some alternatives to incentive charts etc?)
• More Classroom Management Ideas