Thursday, June 19, 2008

Classroom Management

Classroom management is tough, especially if you have the kind of personality that does not naturally lend itself to being an authority figure. Case in point – me. I’m a soft touch and I love to laugh. I enjoy my students and I hope that they enjoy [most of] their learning. We get things accomplished and we check off the lesson plans.

But we are not always on task and there seems to be plenty of ambient noise in my classroom. I get “in trouble” a lot for this – sometime I feel like every time I turn around, there is another administrator wagging his/her finger at me. I have gotten into arguments over my methods, but most everyone tells me I’m in the wrong.

So what am I to do? What are we to do, we teachers who need help with classroom management?

Have Engaging Lessons

I think it’s time to drag out that old saying: “the best defense is a good offense.” For teachers, we need to have good lesson plans that engage our students and make them do most of the work. If they are focused on the lesson, they are less likely to be a management problem.

This means you need fill up your class time – no dead space (and I, for one, am guilty of not having enough for students to do). Instead of lecturing the whole time, lecture a little bit, have students break into groups and go over some discussion questions, and have the groups report to the class. Have students come up with an activity or game – give them some guidelines, show the grading rubric, and let them get to it.

You can also search the web for interesting lesson plans and activities – for English, I like http://www.webenglishteacher.com/ and for Latin, I like http://www.latinteach.com/ . I like to use movies and video clips to go along with what we’re studying. One of the great discussions to have is how the movie is different from the book and why the filmmakers might have made the differences.

Basic Classroom Management

First, set up a routine and teach it to your students. At my private, religious school, after the bells rings, the students all stand and we pray. We go to the warm-up activity, the main portion of the lesson (be it lecture, discussion, reading, or writing), and finally have a concluding discussion. I then let the students know what the homework is and what will be on the agenda for the next day. If the students know what to do every day, they should follow the pattern each day. Lack of routine can lead to chaos.

Let your students know your rules and consistently enforce them (another one of my issues). If, on day one, you tell your students to bring their textbooks or they get a detention, then every time someone forgets their book (no matter the excuse) then give them a detention. If you aren’t consistent and don’t enforce your own rules, your students won’t respect you or your rules. They’ll do what they want to do.

If you have engaging lessons, set up a daily routine, and be consistent in your rules, that should take care of your basic classroom management needs.

The Video Tip

Of course, there are some days that are just full on crazy days (like the days students get to dress up in costume for spirit week) and it’s hard to get students to concentrate. That’s when I get out ye olde video – snap it in and watch the students settle down and watch. You have to be careful, though. The video should relate to your subject matter – for example, don’t show Lethal Weapon 4 if you’ve been studying Shakespeare – and you need to monitor your students. Don’t go sit at your desk and ignore your students. They’ll fall asleep or do work from other classes.

And, after the viewing is over, either that day or in the next class period, make sure you talk about the movie and how it relates to what you’re studying. That way, you’re not wasting time and your students know that, even though you know how to have a little fun, you’re still about business.

7 comments:

Dana Huff said...

Lauren, some resources you might pass on to your readers regarding classroom management include Marzano's Classroom Management that Works and Wong's The First Days of School. Both are really good books for teachers looking to refine or even develop classroom management skills. I have, in the past, struggled with this a little bit.

Lauren said...

Thank you, Dana! Will do!

KStar said...

First, I love your blog! It is very informative and I look forward to each new post. Would you possibly write a post about searching/interviewing for your first job. Hearing from someone who has done it before would be so helpful.

Lauren said...

kstar, thank you so much! I would be delighted to write on searching and interviewing for a job. I'm on it! :)

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