- Bringing Project Based Learning to our Classroom - August 12, 2018
- Keep the Engagement Alive: Start the Year with Purpose - August 5, 2018
- It's Our Fault: A Teacher's Confession - March 18, 2018
- Keeping Your Teaching Real: A Teacher's Role - March 11, 2018
- Sketch Notes in the Elementary Classroom - February 15, 2017
- Teach From the Heart - February 9, 2017
- Who is the Teacher: School or Family? - January 11, 2017
- Dear President Elect Trump, From Your Teachers - November 17, 2016
- Let them Be Children - October 21, 2016
- Print Resources: Great Tools for Kids - October 17, 2016
This weekly series features the observations and experiences of a veteran teacher and her student teacher as they learn together this semester.
At the beginning of the year it is important to establish the tone of your classroom. I like to select a theme that ties things together. For the past couple of years I have used Superheroes. We set up our classroom as a super community. It provides great lessons for understanding your own strengths and weaknesses and allows students to understand failure, learning and trying are important in our classroom.
Coming back from Christmas vacation (or any long break), review of classroom expectations is important. The more you involve students in this discussion, the more buy-in they will have. For a student teacher coming into the classroom mid-year, maintaining the expectations of the classroom is important. But it is equally important the student teacher set up the classroom with their own ideas. Every teacher has their own personal tolerance levels and expectations. Identifying what you want students to accomplish, how you want them to work, and what they need for success is an important place to start.
Teacher Intern--Lauren Lauden: I believe in order to receive respect from students teachers must first show students respect. Throughout my student teaching experience I have done this by modeling how I wanted students to treat not only me but also their classmates and other teachers or staff. By being polite and using manners, saying “I’m sorry” and meaning it, listening and looking at someone when they are speaking, and by owning up to my mistakes, I am a role model for my students and have shown them we are all humans who mess up at times, and that’s okay!
I have taken teachable moments when I saw them in order to clear up any confusion and remind students the importance of “treating others the way you want to be treated.” Throughout this semester I also noticed the importance of reminding students to not only treat others kindly but also materials, especially iPads, and that expectations for borrowing materials must be set and constantly followed. You can not assume students know what is expected. You must be clear on your expectations for getting supplies, using supplies and putting supplies away.
Positive reinforcement is a big part of my classroom management plan. When I noticed a student being on-task, helping a classmate, or persisting in a task, I would tell them they could get a “lightening bolt.” Since the theme for the year was “superheroes,” students got to wear a lightening bolt necklace when they were seen doing good. Students who received a lightening bolt for the day got to go out to recess a few minutes early and also got to wear it on their necks all day long! When I awarded lightening bolts I immediately noticed the other students’ behavior change to whatever that particular student was doing. This was just one way of encouraging positive behavior in
my class. You have to find what works for you and what you will implement consistently.
Another way I encouraged positive student social interaction was through the “Building Each Other Up” project. During this project we discussed positive character traits and values we admire in other people. Examples included compassion, helping other, giving, caring and persistence. We also talked about those traits we do not admire in others such as selfishness and being conceited. Students watched their classmates and when they noticed someone “doing good” they were allowed to take a dry-erase marker and anonymously write a word (one of our positive traits) on that student’s desk when they were not looking or in the room. As soon as the student saw the word on their desk they were to erase it and hold it in their heart. The purpose of this activity was to help build up students’ self-esteem and promote positive values.
Establishing classroom management takes time. It is important to think through what you want and how you are comfortable handling situations in the classroom. Consistency and patience along with clearly stated expectations are key. There are many ideas, but the base of any good classroom management program is respect. We are not only teaching students the content of our grade level and curriculum, we are teaching them the skills they need to be responsible citizens in their community. Build your community on these standards and you will be amazed with what your students can learn.