I've had my classroom management failures just as much as the next teacher. What I've done with all that info is what has set me up for success over the years.
When you've been knocked on your rear for the umpteenth time (been there) and head home defeated (been there, too) , remember, you CAN do this. If I can do it, YOU can do it! You really can fix your classroom management and have a well-run classroom.
By taking all of my successes and, even more importantly, all of my FAILURES and reflecting, making changes and refining, I've gotten to the point where I can step into any classroom and be successful. It didn't just happen. All the hard work I put in simply paid off over time.
There isn't a "silver bullet" that will solve all your problems (I've looked). A well-run classroom takes time, reflection and training of both you, the teacher, and your students. It takes having and understanding all the keys to success...
So much of our classroom management skills start in our own heads. Dealing with our own MINDSET and beliefs about who we are and what we're capable of is the first step in both changing your classroom management and making those changes STICK.
You find a new system that works for a colleague and decide to try it out. It works great for awhile, but then, it starts to unravel. The system starts to drain a lot of your time and energy just to keep it going. It's hard to figure out why it works for them and not for you.
Before you know it, you're questioning yourself and your abilities. But... YOU are not the problem. It's just a mindset shift that needs to happen. So quit beating yourself up and struggling to make a failing system work.
Instead, let's talk about how your mindset it SABOTAGING your classroom management. What lies (about you, your students or even classroom management) are you telling yourself without even really knowing it?
My very first year teaching, was a year of surprises, lots of learning and improvising. I had 34 kids in a 3/4 split that quickly turned into a straight 4th grade. The school was in a very poor, rough area of Los Angeles. I was in a mobile all alone at the furthest end of the school with no classroom phone (this was before cell phones). The teachers at the school were reserved and not exactly welcoming to a young teacher at first. I realized later, the teachers had stacked the class I was given as were regretting that just a bit. Oops.
About 2 weeks into school, I had assigned some reading to the class and they were to get busy while I started working with a small group of struggling readers. Within the first minute of that assignment I had a student pick up his desk, throw it and shout, "I'm NOT going to do this!" To say I wasn't prepared for this would be an understatement. I stood in shock for what seemed like an eternity but was probably only seconds. Truly, I...
Have you ever struggled with planning out your year in Language Arts? Well, today's your lucky day because I'm giving my entire Language Arts program a makeover this year (in my spare time). :D
You see, I'm always learning new techniques and finding great ideas that I want to incorporate into the whole. For awhile this year I was on information overload, so I just let it all sit and marinate. But now,, I'm ready to tackle it all, add in the best of the best and toss the rest.
There are certainly plenty of things to have regrets about or beat ourselves up about as teachers and as parents. But... here's a few you should never apologize for.
So what?! As my mom would say..."quit boo hooing about it, learn something from it and try again". Show your students how to accept failure and start over. Now, there's a lesson worth teaching! Your failure is a powerful teachable moment for you to use with your students.
This is a big one! If you don't hold to your standards and expectations, then parents and students are going to fight you all year. Being firm is not mean or personal, it's just the law in your kingdom. Get yourself prepared with a list of all the objections you've gotten from kids or parents in the past. Next, write down your reasoning the way you want to sound when you answer them....
We all want to have well-managed classrooms and students who reach their potential. Creativity, curiosity and independent thinking and learning (think lifelong learners), are certainly things we hope for with our students. But, what makes for the best environment to promote these in our students? Well, it starts with something that seems counter-intuitive to creativity and independence, structure.
“I have finally realized that the most creative environments in our society are not the kaleidoscopic environments which everything is always changing and complex. They are, instead, the predictable and consistent ones— the scholar’s library, the researcher’s laboratory, the artist’s studio. Each of those environments is deliberately kept predictable and simple because the work at hand and the changing interactions around that work are so unpredictable and complex.”
Lucy Calkins, The...
Here's my back-to-school book picks for those first weeks of school. With the help of these 15 fun books, you'll set the stage for great discussion and the opportunity to teach your expectations and train your students. While this is far from a complete list, it's a good start to your back-to-school collection.
Pigeon has to start school and is terrified until... As usual, Pigeon is dramatic and funny but expresses all the emotions (and excuses) kids really have.
So many kiddos are nervous about school and the unknown. This timely book (and very funny) book can help pave the way to talking about all those fears.
Chrysanthemum loves her unusual name until she starts school and the mean kids get to her. Not to worry, her teacher has an ace up her sleeve.
Perfect for talking about class culture and how to treat others. It's also great for reminding students what others think of us doesn't...
With summer winding down, it's time to start thinking about getting ready for school again (or heading back already for some of you). It's so easy to get overwhelmed with all there is to do. If that's you, this issue is for you!
Let's break things down into manageable steps so you can get it done without all that stress and overwhelm. Don't worry, you can download a free printable copy here. Let's dive in.
I'm all about being prepared all year long. Some of these tasks may seem nitty gritty, but they really do help a ton throughout the year. If you're short on time (your school starts in August), do the essentials and simply skip the rest for now. BUT, (don't cheat yourself) schedule time to do them later.
I know spending time managing a class and dealing with behavior problems is not the fun stuff or the reason we all got into teaching. But the reality is once we actually become teachers, we realize teaching isn't all unicorns and rainbows. In fact, how confident and skilled you are in managing your class can make or break your year.
I find that teacher mindset is the biggest hurdle to great classroom management. I know that sounds bold and it is. But, it's true. When we have a mindset of fear, lack of confidence or self-doubt or other mental hindrances to taking charge, there isn't a system in the world that will work. We have to get our mindset right. You CAN and SHOULD take charge. Someone has to steer the ship and if that's NOT you, it will be your students [and that won't end well].
Take the time before school starts to do my ...
I have to confess, I LOVE those TV shows where there's a transformation - new you, home redo, clutter cleanup. I'm completely obsessed with them. Just watching them is inspiring for me. I know... I'm a little weird.
It took me awhile to realize why I love those shows so much. Clutter, both physical and emotional, is stressful to everyone whether we know it or not. I also know that physical clutter becomes mental clutter because it's like a visual to do list nagging at us. So, cleaning out physical and emotional clutter is always one of my MUST DOs every summer. Teaching is one of the few professions where there's an end each year and a fresh beginning the next. Let's take advantage of that.
Because I'm such an organization freak, here's a checklist:
Every teacher wants their students to become committed readers. Here's a simple "how to" cheat sheet you can provide to help PARENTS support their kids in their reading journey. I call it the Sneaky Parent's Guide to Growing Readers because it's filled with loving, savvy tips to make reading feel fun and desirable.