If only I could sit and wait for my students to get their behavior back on track. Imagine how nice it would be. I could just sit back, prop my feet up on the desk, and get lost in a book. Even more perfect, but just as unrealistic, is the thought of having a perfect class with no troubles whatsoever.
The reality is your class’ behavior will range from year to year and so it is best to have a classroom management plan in place for even the toughest of classes.
I remember all the advice I was given during my college experiences. While some of it was beneficial, all of my real learning came from being in the classroom itself. So what tips do I have for excellent classroom management so you do not turn into the skeleton above while waiting?
Rule #1- Don’t Make Assumptions. Every school has a method of notifying the next year’s teacher of each individual student’s behavior and academics. Avoid looking at each individual’s file until well after school has begun. You don’t want to make a judgment and label any student right away. A child may mature over the summer. Further, we all have different teaching styles. Ours just might be the one style that specific student needed to have a great year! Instead, watch. Observe student’s behaviors and see what you notice. (Just remember, the first few days back they tend to respond a bit more appropriately. I always believed it was the shock element of actually having to be at school again!)
Rule #2- Devise a Behavioral System Children Can Follow. There are many effective behavioral plans out there. You could easily have a student move their clip up or down for choices made or have a classroom economy. While the method is important, the actual rules are what counts. I have seen classrooms with many, many rules listed. The poor kids wouldn’t be able to keep up! Keep the rules simple- but make sure they are also clear. The rule, Be Respectful, is a fabulous rule, but do children fully comprehend it? I can tell you from my experience as a mother, I’m still always teaching my 16 year old daughter what respectful means. Each day she presents new challenges and each day I have to reteach. I’m not saying do not use the rule, be respectful, just make sure students understand it. Take time out at the beginning of the year (and revisit them often) to explain explicitly what each means and looks like. Model, Model, Model.
Rule #3- Be Consistent with Consequences. Out of all the rules listed here, this is the most important! One of the biggest mistakes teachers make is being inconsistent. Students in grades kindergarten on up will watch for any little wiggle room you will allow. And by being inconsistent, guess what?!? You are allowing it! Not only does it send mixed signals for the students, but it’s also unfair.
Rule #4- Communicate! I have a binder that contains a section for each student. This is where I record important information that I have observed throughout the day, including behavior. I record everything, no matter how minor, just because you never know when you are going to need to refer to it again in the future. In addition to recording it in my student binder, I also make sure I have a method of keeping parents informed of student behavior throughout the day. Parents do NOT like to be “blindsided” at conferences with anything. Further, something we may think is minor, may actually be something very big to a parent and she or he would like to nip it immediately.
Rule #5- Focus on the Positive. I know this is much easier said than done, but it is important. There is not a single human being that enjoys negativity. Who doesn’t smile inside when they hear something great about themselves? Reward students for excellent behavior. Rewards doesn’t have to be an elaborate thing. It can be something simple like spending a lunch with you or pun tickets (see below- click on the picture to download it free!). Students need to hear that they are on the right track and doing great! Not only do students need to hear it, but so do parents. I have sent emails, notes, postcards, and made phone calls to parents letting them know the great accomplishments their child has made. I can tell you as a parent, I LOVE hearing positive things from my children’s teachers! It’s encouraging! Just make sure it’s genuine.
With these few simple rules, you will be able to focus on the things that matter most—Helping each child grow!
Wishing you the best year ever,
The Owl Teacher is a new blogger from http://theowlteacher.blogspot.com. She has a total of 9 years of experience ranging from third to fifth grade.