Another installment in my Classroom Management: 24 Strategies Every Teacher Needs to Know by David R. Adamson. Enjoy!
Strategy 5: Time Limits: Adamson says that time is our most important resource and I have to agree! My principle calls our school year "the mythical 180 days". Between testing dates, interruptions, meetings, assemblies, field trips, and more testing it is difficult to fit teaching in there! Adamson suggests posting the day's schedule, announcing a clear time limit for each activity, using a timer so that you stay on task, and incorporating "wait time" are a few methods of setting good time limits. As many requirements as we are under pressure to complete...we do not have a moment to spare!
Strategy 6: Seating Arrangements: Adamson says always assign seating! Your seating arrangement should facilitate your movement around the classroom. It should allow for good proximity control as well. We need to be a presence to those students who feel like they are able to "fly under the radar"and remain unseen. He says there is not one perfect arrangement. You must use your judgement and room restrictions (size, capacity, etc.) to determine your set-up. No student should have his or her back to the front of the room and the teacher's area/desk should be tucked away in an accessible yet out of the way area.
Strategy 7: Manage Your Transitions: Always be prepared! Have your lessons ready to go before you begin. Use your attention signal to signal an upcoming change. Give thorough instructions/explanations of the expected task with time limits and an opportunity to ask questions before you begin the activity. That way you do not cut into the activity time by repeating information or having slow-starters. Give a 5 second warning before beginning the next activity. Adamson also says to take some time to settle after recess or a special activity before attempting to begin another activity. He suggests you do this in a location other than your classroom such as outside before you come back inside or lined up in the hall. This sets the classroom up as a place for quiet learning and not chaos. (I like that idea).
Strategy 8: Teach classroom rules and procedures: We all know this to be true! We must have clear expectations for how we expect our students to behave and how we expect certain tasks to get accomplished. He says we should stick to 5 or fewer classroom rules stated in positive terms (such as "keep our classroom clean" as opposed to "Don't throw trash on the floor". Also, we should explicitly teach them (explain, model, prompt, and review). Rumor has it that it takes at least a dozen (and maybe more) times of doing something before it becomes a habit. I tend to believe more. These directions need to be revisited after breaks in instruction (Christmas holidays, etc.) as well.
Strategy 9: Show That You Care: This section begins Adamson's portion on building positive relationships in your classroom. He feels that if you build a community of trust and respect...it is much less likely that a student will be disruptive or disrespectful. It makes sense to me! I have seen it at work in my classroom as well. I had a student last year that is THE STUDENT everyone warns you about wayyyy before you get him. I decided to perform an experiment. I found something immediately that the student did really well (he was extremely neat) and began commenting on that during the first week. I did not have one problem out of that student! Now...recess, bus duty, special areas...was a different story. He was his "normal" self in those areas...with the same reputation and expectations he came with. Go figure!
Strategy 10: Build Trust: I think this is extremely important! Sometimes we are the only "rock" that these students can count on. Sometimes there is no consistency to be found in their lives....from where they live, what they eat, what they are or are not allowed to do! We have to "say what we mean...and mean what we say". We have to follow through on the good and the bad. They need to know we are doing what we are doing for their sake. Like my dad always says...actions have consequences! Making exceptions just teaches that rules are made to be broken. (Dad's words) Part of this trust is being professional as well. We must not repeat confidential information or break the trust of a colleague because the info is incredibly juicy! We teach by example.
Let me know what you think....and what you do in your classrooms!