Classroom management (of course) tends to be an issue for me, as it is for every new teacher. I am finding that the more my classes have me for a teacher, the more often they misbehave or are off-task.
Yesterday was a particularly difficult day for me. My morning class was rather non-responsive, and I felt myself being more negative in direction than I generally am. I tend to like to focus on positives, because I don’t think anyone really likes to hear what they aren’t doing right all of the time. However, yesterday I found myself constantly telling them that they need to listen, they aren’t paying attention, etc. As a result of my direction, I could feel the class slipping away from me. I find that, in general, I am harder on my morning class than on my afternoon one. I have thought about what the reasons for this might be and what I’ve come up with is that I am intimidated by a select few students that ruffle my feathers a bit. Consequently, I am over-compensating.
In the afternoon, I was observed by my university supervisor. I have to say, first off, that I really appreciate her visits. I don’t look at them as another way the university is grading me, but as an opportunity for an outside opinion of what happens in my classes. I welcome her observance. Anyway, the afternoon class was the complete polar opposite of the morning. They were noisy, off-task, impossible to bring back together, and I was very close to losing my patience with them. My university supervisor noted that toward the end of the class, I began to get a bit stressed with them. I agree; I was having an impossible time getting them to pay attention to me. We were beginning a new activity that required a lot of instruction from me, and had many steps to it. While I feel like the students executed things well, it’s the talking over me and over one another that I couldn’t handle.
After the school day ended, my supervisor gave me some really great tips on management. While I loved what she offered up, it was actually what I brainstormed with my mentor teacher that ultimately gave me the idea of what to change in the room and with myself to get the attention I want from my students. So, starting Monday, I will have a classroom meeting with each class, and introduce a new plan. Each day, two students (one on either side of the room) will tally every half hour. They will be looking for students that are on-task, have been respectful, and have raised their hands to speak. At the end of each class period I will place a star on a chart for the daily 5 students that received the most tallies. At the end of the week, there will be a reward for those that have done well.
I realize that this system doesn’t take into account those students that will not buy in to the idea. Unfortunately, there will still have to be some students that choose to make me write them up. However, I’m fairly confident that for most of my difficult students, it will only take one write-up to change their attitudes. I hope I’m right about that.
So, today I went to the teacher supply store and purchased everything I will need to implement my new management plan. Now to get it all ready. Update coming soon.