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- Betsy DeVos Resigns: Most Teachers Say Good Riddance - January 8, 2021
- Class Divide in Emergency Learning: A Crisis Overseas - September 10, 2020
- Practicing Self-Care in the Midst of Chaos - August 31, 2020
- Do the Work: Equity Symposium for Teachers - August 23, 2020
- Universities Collaborate on the Biggest Experiment in Higher Ed: Reopening - August 3, 2020
- The Day of Teacher Self-Care is Happening August 1, 2020 - July 21, 2020
- Do the Work: A Conversation Around Anti-Racist Teaching in K-12 Schools - June 14, 2020
"I'm done! You guys can have this (pointing to the classroom) and I'm never coming back!" As a new teacher, I watched in disbelief as a veteran teacher became so fed up with the student's misbehavior that she walked out on her job. As a new teacher I understood this particular teacher's frustration...heck there were times when I felt like doing the same thing. However, the image of her with all of her valuables (those which she could carry) packed leaving the job she loved leaving has stayed etched in my memory like it was yesterday.
When I'm working with new teachers, I always come back to this instance in my career. Many teachers have felt like walking out, and the majority of them cite how the lack of classroom management is their major concern. In these discussions, there are always a lot of misnomers about the causes of classroom mismanagement, but rarely are there any discussions on how to remedy the misbehavior. Administrators blame teachers and sometimes teachers blame other teachers.
The truth is that classroom management is a school issue that deals more with the relationship schools/teachers have with their students than anything else. For example, several years ago I had a student that was an absolute TERROR in the previous grade. When he became angry he would regularly curse out any adult in his path, fought constantly and to make matters worse, he was grade levels behind in reading. When I saw he was on my roll for the year, I know I would have my work "cut out for me".
On the first day of school for him (sometime after Labor Day), I welcomed him to my class, gave him a syllabus and explained to him my expectations. Then I let him learn. There were times during the year that he acted out, but because I had helped establish a relationship with him, he listened to my reason, and we survived the year without anyone getting hurt.
The classroom relationship I had with this student made him feel as if he was supported at his worst (and best) times.In my years in the classroom, I've managed to survive, but not without witnessing some things the general public would not believe.
I have watched student and parents:
- refuse to do any work what so ever,
- barge into a classroom and confront a teacher over some supposed "injustice."
- fight in the classroom over something as trivial as a class project not being completed
- throw books at the substitutes when the regular teacher is out at professional development
Of course, the list could go on, but I think you get the point. Classroom management is a point of contention for educators young and old, and until you have a real classroom management plan you will have trouble. Trust me I know-- it took me at least two years to find one that worked for me. Looking back, my first year in the classroom was hell.
I was barely out of college working in Memphis City Schools with students who were barely six years older than I was. There were days that I wanted to pack up my belongings and report to a corporate job, but only one thing kept me coming back to work every day. I knew my students needed me even if they didn't know it themselves. After one incident where I had a disruptive student "show out" in class, I knew that I HAD to take control of my classroom management. So after watching veteran teachers manage their classrooms like the professionals they were, I instituted a classroom management plan that worked for me.
That was thirteen years ago, and I've never looked back. Whenever I speak to teachers about classroom management, I always let them know that there can be structure amidst chaos if they follow these four steps:
1. Have clear expectations of students and their behavior. When students enter my classroom on the first day of school, I don't tell them how to behave, I model what I expect from them. As soon as they step foot inside my classroom (after ensuring everyone has a pen and paper) I immediately begin engaging my students in the lesson. It may mean that students begin taking notes, answering a discussion question or working on an assignment from the day before- the point is that students begin the class by doing something productive.
Throughout the lesson, I model what's appropriate and what's not. For example, nothing can disrupt a lesson more than a student stopping the class to ask to use the restroom. Instead, when a student asks to use the restroom, I motion for them to come to our class sign-in/sign out log. In the meantime, while the students are working, I remind them that as young adults they don't need permission to use the restroom. They sign out, take a hall pass and go. Once they return they sign back in and return their pass for the next student. Click here for strategy #2.