I just finished up with my first year of teaching, and even though my administrators, co-teacher, and colleagues said my classroom management was good, I feel it could be a lot better. I often felt overwhelmed at how “out of control” my class was. Students NEVER worked until the bell, several of them were cheating, many spent more time on phones than on work, and my test grades were so bad (in my opinion) that I didn’t feel like they were really learning anything. I know that getting students to learn starts with classroom management. Even though I have dreams of making all my own unique lessons, doing more hands on learning and move labs, switching to standards based grading, and differentiating instruction; my goal for this summer is to focus on conquering classroom management. That’s not to say I won’t spend any time on unique lesson plans, implementing standards based grading, or trying to differentiate some of my lessons. I will. But my primary focus will be on classroom management. Besides, I can’t fully hone classroom management if I don’t know what my lessons will at least somewhat look like so I know what I want my students to be doing.
That being said, there will be several steps to this and since I also miss writing, and for me writing helps me better reflect and think things out, I will be blogging my progress as I go in order to help me along. The least this will do is help me out. The best this will do is help others out. And if you are reading along as I go, please comment any reflections that you have. Anything that stands out to you. Anything that you have tried and loved or have tried and didn’t work. Anything you think you want to try. Or any questions on details I leave out or why I thought to do a thing in the first place. I would love to hear from you. And now, onto the steps I am planning out (which will likely change as I go on).
I’m thinking step one will start with myself. When she first hired me, my principal had me take the Strength Finders test and gave me a book so I could read about my results. The idea is to figure out your top 5 strengths and learn to utilize them in your job (in this case, teaching). That way, you’re building up what you’re naturally good at, leading you to be more successful than if you tried to build up things you are not naturally good at which can make you feel more like a failure because that’s a lot more difficult. In order to understand how I want my class to look, I need to reflect on what my strengths are and how those could be utilized for my own unique teaching and classroom management style.
Step two will be figuring out basic rules for my classroom. These will need to communicate my expectations to my students. It will probably start out with guidelines to be successful in my class and then specific ways to follow those guidelines. I also need a good attention signal. I will want to reflect on my ideals. What positive traits do I like to see in others that I would want to encourage in my students? Those will help me set my rules and regulations and let me know what’s important to me. Knowing what’s important to me will help me distinguish what is worth consequence and reward in my classroom.
Step three will be a correction plan for misbehavior. What kind of consequences I will have in place for certain behaviors. And ones for unpredictable behavior (these kids are creative when it comes to pushing the rules haha). What kind of data and documentation I will want to/be willing to do. I know documentation can take up a lot of time, but it can also save your butt. Plus it helps me remember things since there are too many things to remember as a teacher.
Step four will be figuring out a reward/motivation system. What I want to reward, how frequently, what kind of rewards I don’t want, and if I will let students pick or vote on rewards. I need an individual one and a class-wide one. Something that will allow students to feel inclusive and part of the whole as they work together towards a common goal.
In step five I will figure out my beginning and ending routine. I have to keep in mind that these students like to start packing up and lining up at the door 5-10 minutes before the bell – thinking there isn’t enough time to get anything done. Maybe I could start by showing them how much work can be done in 1 minute or even 30 seconds to help them realize how much time is being wasted standing at the door. Plus it’s a huge pet peeve of mine and I don’t want to be fighting the students daily about it like I did last year.
I supposed step six will be routines for everything else. Handling group work, passing out and in papers, missing work, behavior during independent work, and anything else my research leads me to add.
I believe that’s it. If you noticed I missed something, please let me know. Please also feel free to share resources on any of the steps for me to look at while I’m working on that step. I imagine each step will take a few days minimum and possibly multiple blog posts. We shall see. I have books and other resources from my school and from trainings I’ve done. Plus the entire internet. I will post my references best I can. Thanks for reading.