Thursday, August 15, 2013

Teacher Week '13: Taming the Wild, Classroom Management

Four Ways that I Create a Positive Learning Environment
{It's all about building relationships!

 1. Greet the Students

Every morning I stand at the door, which is actually an expectation for all the teachers to do at my school. When each student arrives at my door we exchange "good mornings" and give a hug to each other. My students and I do this at the end of the day when they are leaving too. My students have said this is one of their favorite parts of the day...being greeted with a hug and a smile sets a positive tone for the day. If for some reason I'm not right at the door that morning or moment, the first thing they will do is remind me that they did not get their hug that morning or they will walk to where I'm at in the room to make sure we exchange our morning hug and greeting. You could also exchange high-5s. Students love to be welcomed into the classroom!

2. Porter Patriot of the Week
Each student is scheduled by alphabetical order for a week where they are Porter Patriot of the Week. I send this schedule home at the beginning of the year so the parents can plan accordingly. Each day of the week a special task or activity is planned (see document above). The students LOVE being Porter Patriot of the Week. They take the honor very seriously. I LOVE having a Porter Patriot of the Week because it makes each student feel extra-special.

3. Morning Meeting
Not my class but a perfect picture to illustrate Morning Meeting
After announcements, lunch count, etc. the students and I gather at the carpet around the perimeter of the rug. Each day a different student starts a greeting that the students pass around the class. I heard all sorts of greeting this year from hellos in foreign languages to a southern "Howdy" and classic "Good Morning". Sometimes they even incorporate a hug or handshake. This a great opportunity to practice social skills and build a sense of community. They love the Morning Meeting and are very insistent on making it happen every morning (it takes about ten minutes). This is also where I tell them about what our day has in store for us and then we transition to a mini-lesson for Writers' Workshop. Morning Meeting can be more extensive and The Morning Meeting Book has tons of great ideas!

4. Class Meetings

Class Meetings are an expectation my principal has for every classroom in our school. I'm so grateful to have been introduced to the concept of Class Meetings because of this expectation. They have such a positive impact on the classroom community! The students and I hold Class Meetings twice a week and on an as-needed basis. During Class Meetings the students and I solve problems/issues they're having related to anything that may be impacting our classroom environment, such as, using kind words, gossiping, helping others, etc. We also discuss celebrations if they are excited about a problem they solved on the playground, etc.

Throughout the week the students can write a problem/issue or a celebration on an index card and put it in our Celebrations and Concerns Pot. I use the cards in the pot to drive our Class Meetings. Students can also voice their celebration or concern aloud without having put a card in the pot. Sometimes I read the cards aloud and sometimes the student who wrote the concern or celebration reads it aloud. The students do most of the work in our Class Meeting, and I guide them on how to respond to each other. I also make a point to let them know even if they're not involved with the concern being addressed, they can learn from others' experience.

It's amazing to see the students grow and improve with making better choices during our class meetings and outside of our class meetings! Class meetings help make our classroom a happier and more enjoyable place to be. If you'd like to learn more about Class Meetings, [here] is a great article. :)

Extra Management Tips

I'm always on the lookout for ways to "work smarter"! Here are some useful management points that I learned from a professional development class I took called Positive Classroom Management based on Fred Jones' philosophy.
  •  YOU set the tone....not the students.
  • Use an odd number for a time requirement. "You have 3 minutes or 7 minutes" is a lot different from "You have 10". Remember that odd numbers tend to focus us more.
  • A rule can be enforced with a consequence.  A procedure is taught and practiced over and over. Consistency is crucial to both!
  • Don't be afraid to stop instruction and give the kids yourself a break.  Have them take out a piece of paper and write a note to a friend.  Give them each a piece of white paper and allow them to draw a picture of something.  Even if it is for 5 minutes, this will allow you to sit for second and breathe.  This is ok!  Much rather YOU regroup then spending time stressing as to why the lesson is not working, figuring out why they are tired or not allowing yourself to breathe.  
  • Do not make ANY rule you are not willing to enforce EVERY time it is broken. This means, if there is a consequence to a rule you have made and you do not follow through, you have just broken a trust and commitment to that rule.  Be consistent.

We also learned about a powerful strategy called Limit Setting. The instructor was magical at teaching us how to do this! It's about using body language to put an end to disruptions. It really works wonders...Wikipedia actually has a pretty good article about it. You can also read about it [here]. 

I also want to share that when behavior issues do arise this is the series of actions that I have in place:
1. non-verbal warning
2. verbal warning
3. logical consequence
4. student-teacher conference
5. student writes a letter home and/or teacher contacts parents
6. individual behavior plan

Thanks for reading! Hop on over to Blog Hoppin' to learn more about classroom management!


1 comment:

Thanks so much! Have a Happy Day! :)

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