Reflections on Classroom Management

General ideas:

It’s critical that students enter the room knowing that I will not permit them to leave for trivial reasons, do other homework, sleep, or refuse to participate.  To accomplish this, I have to try to establish a reputation and atmosphere of being both strict and consistent.

As the first students try to push and bend my boundaries, the prescribed punishments should be doled out immediately.  They should understand the expectations before they ever have a chance to break them and should not be surprised when they are enforced.

I would also like to note that I try to choose my battles carefully, and generally, kids know when it’s seriously time to settle down.  If I have to appear angry/extra stern or be loud to get their attention, (I try not to raise my voice) they understand that I mean business. In other words, we can’t freak out every time they get a little off topic or our responses will become mundane and expected. Then what do you have left in your classroom management arsenal?

Smile a lot and be friendly, even when some tell you “not to smile until Christmas.”  The trick is to try NOT to smile or laugh when they do something inappropriate – no matter how funny!

Go ahead and give the younger/bigger/rowdier crowds a seating chart and don’t be afraid to make changes. I’m not convinced that all classes can handle choosing their own seats. If you have older/more mature/smaller classes, then it’s totally up to your discretion. *FYI: I set my room up in straight rows for a while as there were AP tests and then we were getting ready for finals, and EVERY class had students walk in and whine, “This feels like a regular classroom” or “I feel like I’m in 3rd grade.”

Beyond that, the instruction itself is inherently linked to classroom management. You can give “the look,” use proximity, or even pass out demerits (detentions) all day and the problems could potentially remain.

Students should be busy, as I have previously stated, but this should not be applied through busy work and multiple worksheets. For my 75 minute blocks, I aim for 3-4 distinct activities (except days where we are engaged in testing  or large group projects, etc).  Sometimes students should work alone, in pairs, in small groups, and as a class.

Work should vary and be relevant – but that’s not enough – we must explain WHY it’s important, relevant, etc. Students should understand the objectives of the activity before they embark on the task.  It is important to recognize that there is no need to feel defensive over this question as a teacher (provided it the question is posed respectfully).  If we don’t have an answer for them, then what IS the point of the activity?

For me, personally, I’ve been thinking about some problems that I had. Here are my intentions:

*Students will receive 2 “Get out of class free” cards at the beginning of each semester. If they need to run to their locker/car/the library/bathroom (they don’t always go to the bathroom when they make this claim – I am considering using a conspicuous bathroom pass of some sort) they will either use their card or take a tardy. 3 tardies=  1 hard labour detention (scraping desks or wiping down floor boards, no fun here!)

*Students will never be permitted to go to the vending machine during class. If they are desperately hungry, they should already have something simple with them. (Obvious exceptions for medical concerns.)

*Students doing OTHER work during my class will have the work confiscated and returned to the appropriate classroom teacher at the end of the day. This is unacceptable.  If students are copying answers for work, even if it’s for another class, I am considering ripping it up on the spot. I will check with administration before I choose this (severe) path.

*Students who fall asleep during class are required to stay 2-3 minutes after class to “make up the time they owe me”. (Thankfully, this was pretty rare this year.)

*If students do not turn in their homework at the beginning of class, it’s late. If they forget their books and we have an open book quiz/test, they go without.  If they do not have a paper printed at the beginning of class, it’s late. Students who have emailed me papers to print are responsible for coming to me before class starts to print, or papers will be counted late.

*Cursing during class will result in an immediate demerit and conversation with me in the hall. While I know that they are accustomed to speaking like this, it is unacceptable in the classroom environment.

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