Hi Readers: Here are some ideas and topics to think about as you plan your Staff Development sessions. Classroom Management seems to be a big problem for many teachers, especially at the middle school level.
This article includes questions to get teachers and administrators THINKING CRITICALLY, so that together you can plan a strong school management program, enabling stronger teaching of academics to be smoothly implemented.
STRONG CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT
Understanding Classroom Management
Take 15 minutes to read, reflect on and record your responses to the following questions. Please be prepared to contribute your responses verbally to the group
- What is your definition of classroom management?
- What are some of the main aspects of classroom management?
- Provide one or more examples of classroom strategies used in your classroom.
Activity # 2
Classroom Management Efficiency
As a team, elaborate on classroom management practices, using The Observable Characteristics of a Well Managed Classroom list provided in this article.
Propose practices that will improve these characteristics of classroom management in your classrooms and in the school as a whole. Present your examples to the group.
Characteristics of Good Classroom Management
The Physical Setting
- The room and contents are arranged for productive and formative work that allows for optimal learning.
- The classroom set-up allows for educator accessibility and availability to the students.
- The educational displays set up on the wall space, are educational, orderly, interesting, attractive and simple and not over cluttered. They have relevance to what is taught.
- The classroom is attractive, orderly and clean.
- The materials are accessible, kept in order and supply.
- The classroom is inviting and comfortable yet productive.
- The desks or tables & chairs are arranged for flexibility of actions, easy to move for both individual and group activities, with proximity to the teacher a priority. Rigid rows, similar to 19th century classrooms, are not in evidence.
- The atmosphere in the class is positive; a spirit of charity, unity and teamwork reigns.
- The time is used to full capacity for student learning: time is not wasted; there are few disruptions or distractions.
- Students are engaged in their learning, actively involved in their work and visibly on-task.
- A positive, calm, pleasant, work-oriented environment.
- Teachers let students know that errors are expected as they learn new things, so there’s an absence of fear, tension, or anxiety among the students.
Activity # 3
The Physical Setting of the Classroom Environment
In teams discuss and formulate ideas to develop a bulletin board display and a floor plan for a classroom. List all the materials you will need to set up your classroom. Sketch out the visual plan for the class displays and physical arrangements of the class setup.
The Observable Characteristics of a Well- Managed Classroom
A well-managed classroom is a task-oriented and predictable environment. The students know what is expected of them and how they are to do it to achieve success.
With Regard to the Students
- The students are respectful of the teacher and of one another.
- The class expectations are well defined and posted centrally for all to read.
- The students know what is expected of them and are able to meet and exceed these expectations.
- The students understand the procedures as well as put them into practice.
- Students are on-task and working.
- The students know the objectives of the assignments they are completing.
- The students know that all classroom work and tests are based on specific expectations essential for their academic formation.
- The students understand that all aspects of what and how they do something in the class affects their own formation and that of their peers.
- The students can work both independently and cooperatively.
- The students are academically successful.
- The students respond positively and appropriately to one another and to the teacher.
With Regard to the Teacher
- The students respond to the teacher.
- The teacher has a plan for everything: procedures, discipline, rewards, lessons, assignments, tests, activities, and even surprises…
- The teacher communicates expectations to the student.
- The teacher begins classes on time and follows the pre-approved schedule in the classroom.
- The teacher has a consistent signal to gain the attention of the students.
- The teacher maintains a formative discipline plan. It is positive, motivational, assertive, purposeful, and constructive.
- The teacher has developed a positive and personal rapport with each student.
- The teacher maintains some form of personal contact with each student on a daily basis.
- The teacher has established clear expectations with the students in terms of presenting, practicing, and positively reinforcing the procedures and norms.
- The teacher is vigilant and uses every moment as an opportunity to form the students.
- The academic instruction is primarily teacher-led and directed.
- The teacher is kind and firm, always available and ready to serve yet maintains the authority of his or her role.
- The teacher circulates the room, goes to each student to check on, assist, and verify their progress by answering questions, giving positive motivation to each one and periodically as a whole. “You are all working so wonderfully on this assignment, great work!”
- The teacher is on top of correction if it is needed and addresses the situation at hand.
- The teacher exemplifies respect and the dignity of the person in dealing with his or her students.
With Regard to the Environment
Considerations for the Floor Space
The teacher makes a plan for the setup of the classroom. The physical arrangement involves the set up of the furnishings, the student desks, teacher’s desk, bookshelves, additional worktables, furniture, and workstations.
To design the floor plan, one must consider the flow and ease of movement in the class, visual access and proximity of students to the black/white board and the teacher. The preparation and the arrangement of the physical space in the classroom should enhance the security, efficiency, and accessibility of the students and the teacher.
Consider the following:
- Arrange furnishings and displays suitable to the implementation of the curriculum for the age group.
- Ensure proper furnishings are in place and in good condition.
- Arrange for the number of student desks or tables required.
- During instruction, all eyes should be on the teacher.
- Situate worktables, materials, bookshelves display tables, and learning centers (Pre-K and Kindergarten), around the back and side of the room.
- Ensure exits are clear of obstructions and the room is open and inviting.
- The teacher’s desk can be placed where both the students and the teacher can see each other. The teacher does not sit at the desk to teach. He/she circulates around the room.
- Assign students their desks or table space, and if necessary, place nametags on the desk. This will help the teacher learn the students’ names, establish mutual respect, and maintain classroom control.
- Properly situate and store required work materials, books, papers, pencils, and tools, in an accessible location for the students.
- Place curriculum and resource books neatly on bookshelves and countertops until you are ready to distribute them to the students.
- Have an organized procedure as to how the students keep track of their books and where the books will be stored when not in use.
Considerations for the Wall Space
The classroom is pleasantly decorated with students’ artwork. The classroom decor, which is defined by the teacher, is attractive, interesting, and orderly. Decorations bulletin boards, and materials are educational, and purposeful, supporting the curriculum objectives. The presentation of any form of materials on the walls or on display should be organized and promote the education and formation of the students. The walls should not be cluttered or excessively decorated. What is seen on the walls should express respect for those who will see it.
Consider the following:
- Purchase prefabricated and approved bulletin board materials
- Utilize wall space to reinforce learning concepts. Present them in an attractive and ordered manner.
- Keep visual distraction to a minimum. The displays should be educational, ordered, and simple to avoid student distraction.
- Make a plan for the wall space so as to coordinate and accommodate the curricular topics or themes
- Title bulletin boards with an appropriate graphic. One bulletin board should be reserved for displaying student work.
- Depending on the grade level of the students, one bulletin board should be designated as a calendar board, which remains throughout the year.
- Display student work in an orderly and dignified manner.
- Designate a section of a bulletin board or board for posting the day’s schedule, objectives, class assignments, homework, notices, and upcoming events.
- Write homework on the board before the students come into the classroom. Write it consistently in the same area so the students will be accustomed as to where to find this instruction. Allow class time for them to write down homework.
- Post the morning routine to follow and projects that students can work on if they have completed the regular days’ work.
- A classroom welcome sign should be posted, identifying the theme for that month of school.
Considerations for the Student Work Space
The student work area consists of their desks or tables & chairs, and other classroom areas that serve as storage and organization space for the students’ belongings such as lockers, shelves, or cubbies.
- Ensure the student desks and lockers are neat and orderly at all times.
- Show the students how to keep possessions neat and orderly.
- The teachers and directive team members encourage and monitor the maintenance of this order.
- Assign and label with student names the areas where they will keep their coats, shoes, backpacks, lunchboxes, and binders.
- Ensure the student’s desk only contains the following items: notebooks, pencil case, rosary, drinking cup, etc.
- Store and display student textbooks and binders on shelves from largest to smallest.
- Provide stacking trays and designated area to collect student assignments.
- Designate and set up shelves for storage of materials, pencils, crayons, papers, books, etc. for student use.
Considerations for the Teacher Work Space
The desk and work area of the teacher is uncluttered, neat, and orderly at all times to set the example for the students. The teacher has a place for everything. What is kept on the desk is relevant to the work and what is taught in the classroom.
The teacher always models good habits of order. The teacher’s desk placement should allow the teacher to be more accessible and visible to the student. This proximity to the student is a means of preventative action in the formative discipline of the students. This accentuates the teacher’s presence and diminishes the possibility for misbehavior among the students..
Have a bookshelf and filing cabinet near the teacher’s desk and use it to store items needed on a regular basis. These are for the teacher’s use only.
Use stacking trays or upright organizers to hold and organize important papers, teachers’ editions, etc. Use each tray/compartment for different types of information. For example, one tray can be for extra copies of blank forms, while another can be for extra copies of recent assignments. Each teacher must have a system of organizing and keeping papers.
Ensure the teacher’s desk is in order at the end of the day. Develop this habit and model this to the students. Be selective about what is kept on the teacher’s desk. If something is not used at least three days of the week, it should be stored elsewhere.
Activity # 4
Recall a Classroom Management Blooper
Reflect on a past teaching experience in which you did not properly provide procedures or directions for the students to follow and the results of this oversight. Share examples of such experiences considering the importance of clearly understood and communicated systematic procedures.
Activity # 5
Developing Classroom Procedures
Take time to reflect on the subject of your procedures and consider all the steps needed to carry out each procedure. Once you have developed the procedure and steps, practice these in teams. Role-play the teaching of a specific procedure using The Three Steps to Teaching Classroom Procedures, which follow, and present the procedures to the other participants. Review the Classroom Procedures Guide. Practice these in teams.
Classroom and School Procedures
Procedures are required for all aspects of the school. The following is a list of the actions that require student procedures.
- Morning routines: for example, -upon entering the classroom, we take out our books, notebooks, or iPads for class, and read silently until class begins.
- Movement within the classroom: how to line up, stand, sit, transitions in class, from one class to another, at recess, at lunch, entering the classroom, class dismissal
- Housekeeping: storing personal items, clean up, student responsibilities (floor clean up, rows in order, etc.)
- Organization: systems for collecting, grading and returning papers and homework, grading-recording grades, extra credit, portfolios, distributing materials
- Completing lessons: for example, distributing and collecting materials and assignments, behavior expectations during lessons, class participation
- Interactions between teacher and student: how to gain the teacher’s attention, how to ask for help, when and how to address peers
- When one is Recording absenteeism
- An emergency alert and situation
- Disposing of trash
- What to do when one enters the classroom
- How and when to sharpen pencils
- Responding to questions
- Responding to the bell
- Going to the bathroom
- Class discussions
- Obtaining a pencil, paper or other materials
- Gaining the class’ attention as a whole
- Keeping one’s desk and belongings orderly
- Working in groups
- Notebook work
- Turning in assignments
- Exchanging papers
- School wide announcements
- Going to the library
- In the gymnasium
- At recess
- Textbook distribution
- Students turning in work
- Rewards and incentives
- Communicating with parents
- Signals for students’ attention
- Daily routines – beginning of day, transition times, independent and group work
- Agenda use and motivators
- Discipline guidelines and rules
- Fire drills
- All routines activities
This list is a clear indication of the necessity of procedures based on the many and varied areas that must be clearly directed, explained and understood by both the teachers and the students.
Three Steps to Teaching Classroom Procedures
1. To present
- Present what the procedure is to the students. Explain, and demonstrate modeling the procedure for the students. This involves a verbal explanation as well as providing a written copy of the procedures to the students (depending on the age level) and posting the written procedure in the classroom for the student’s referral. The procedures must be presented in the first days of school. This begins with those procedures utilized within the classroom and a progression to those outside the classroom. Not all the procedures can be taught in one day. The instruction of procedures should be distributed and practiced throughout the first week of school.
2. To practice
- Provide students with opportunities to learn and practice the procedures. The teacher encourages this is by modeling procedures, and in working closely with the students. Once the students are given a procedure, the teacher practices the procedure with them to help them to understand and carry out the procedure in the correct manner. The teacher ensures that every student carries out the procedures properly. The student learns the procedure at this phase and practices the procedures through the proper rehearsal of each one.
- In the first days of school, it is essential that the teacher continually models, re-teaches, and encourages the students practice these consistently. The teacher must monitor the progress of the students to ensure that they are carrying out the procedures properly. Time well spent in these first days of reviewing procedures will multiply time in the days ahead since the students will know what to do, how to do it, why they do it and ideally will want to do it.
- For a child to learn something new, it must be repeated or practiced on average eleven times. For a child to unlearn a behavior and to replace it with a new behavior, the new behavior has to be repeated on average 27 times. This emphasizes the necessity to teach the procedure correctly the first time.
3. To positively reinforce
- The teacher continually practices the procedures with the students, positively motivates them and corrects the students as required. The needed corrections should be made on the spot to reinforce the correct behavior. The teacher has the student practice the procedures until they know them well. The teacher recognizes their progress, gives praise, encouragement, and works to have the students internalize these procedures as routines.
- Positively reinforcing in addition to praise and reward helps the students to appreciate the greater good in the practice of the procedures for themselves and for the others as they adhere to them. The goal is to have the students practice the procedure because they recognize the value in doing so and want to do it.
Activity # 6
Introducing Classroom Rules
- Develop a procedure for introducing the classroom rules to the students. Review Introducing Classroom Rules. Determine your approach and list the classroom rules. Take time to reflect on the steps to present the rules to the students. Role-play the teaching of the rules and present your results to the other participants.
- Introducing Classroom Rules
- When introducing the classroom rules:
- Tell the students why the rules are necessary.
- Give the example of the need for rules in sports, at a football game, in traffic, as a means of understanding the necessity for rules in all aspects of life.
- Have the students contribute and generate possible classroom rules they think are needed to function effectively in the classroom.
- Brainstorm with the students and write down all their ideas. From the rules, they have given you, condense them into five workable rules, and explain to them how and where their rules are incorporated into the five main classroom rules. State what the classroom rules are.
- Establish a set of classroom rules to guide the students’ behavior. Discuss the rationale of these rules with the students to ensure they understand the “why” behind the rule and see the need for each rule. Keep the list of rules short. The school might have a list of general rules to follow however the list should include paying attention, respect for others, how to respond, moving in the classroom, securing materials and completing homework assignments.
- Post the rules in the classroom. Make them visible to all and keep them posted throughout the year. Keep rules to a minimum so students can remember them.
- Post rewards and positive consequences for these rules.
- Examples of Specific Rules (Grades 1-12)
o Be in your assigned seat when the bell rings.Remain seated unless you have permission to do otherwise
o Bring all books and materials to class
o Follow directions the first time they are given.
o Listen carefully while others are speaking, never interrupt, hands down when someone is speaking.
o Respect all others 100% of the time.
o Follow all directions and complete your assignments.
o Stand to greet visitors entering the classroom.
o Keep hands, feet, and objects to yourself.
Each student should be given a copy of the rules and all classroom procedures. Consequences for behavior should also be clearly understood by the students.
- Be in your assigned seat when the bell rings.Remain seated unless you have permission to do otherwise
Activity # 7
- Identify possible classroom responsibilities for the students. List the responsibilities. Write a description of the responsibility and the step-by-step procedure to properly fulfill this responsibility by the students in the classroom. See the list of the Types of Student Responsibilities for additional examples.
o Responsibility: (e.g. Line leader)
o Description of the duty.
o Step by step procedure to fulfill the responsibility.
- Types of Student Responsibilities
o Line Leader
o Plant Caretaker
o Board Cleaner
o Book Patrol
o Shelf Inspector
o Floor Patrol
o Lights Monitor
o Mass Readers
o Mass Servers
o Sacristan Team
o Liturgy Team
o Reception Team
o Classroom Leader
o Paper passer
Activity # 8
Classroom Management Tips
- Working in teams, review the Classroom Management Tips. As a team develop and share additional classroom management tips that can be used in the classroom.
The following are some tips that will help in the classroom management and day-to-day dealing with the students.
- Learning names:
Set up a seating arrangement whereby students’ names are quickly learned. Calling a student by his or her name in the first days of school gives the student an increased sense of well-being. It also gives greater control of situations: «JOHN, please stop talking and finish your work» is more effective than «Please stop talking and finish your work.
For Pre-K and Kindergarten, classes use large tag board and make one with a green circle, one with a red circle and one with a yellow circle. Red means a time where there is absolutely no talking. Yellow means that some talking and/or movement are allowed. Green means more interaction with peers is allowed. Post the cards at the beginning of certain sessions or activities.
- Give me five:
Use a variety of ways to get the students’ attention.
One way is «Give Me Five”. Extend five fingers out on your outstretched arm. This means… «Two eyes watching, two ears listening and one mouth closed.»
Another meaning of «Give me five», is to accomplish FIVE actions simultaneously. Practice this wit the students during the first week of school.
1. Eyes on the teacher.
2. Nothing in your hands.
3. Hands on the desk or table.
4. Absolute silence.
Gain the students’ attention by turning the lights off and on again.
- Personal interest and treatment of students:
Each student must be treated with dignity and respect at all times. Greet students at the door each morning. Take a genuine interest in each student. Get to know each student personally; learn about the students’ family and personal situation; offer praise and encouragement frequently; attend to students as individuals not just as a class as a whole; seek to speak to each one in some way personally every day. If this is not possible, make some form of special contact with the student such as making eye contact and giving them an extra special smile, a pat on the back, a personal acknowledgement of some sort.
- Esprit de corps: There are many aspects in developing esprit de corps, foremost, a teacher’s enthusiasm, love, level of concern and interest for the students and class, affects the level of class unity and charity. This important spirit helps to bring out the best in each student. The charity lived in the school develops as the esprit de corps. This in itself makes the school program much more enjoyable and fruitful.
- Every minute counts: As part of an effective routine, students need to begin work immediately after the bell rings. Interesting problems, trivia questions or reflection topics can be placed on the overhead projector to challenge the students until the first period begins. This could be an introductory activity leading directly into the day’s lesson.
- Virtue of the month: The virtue of the month serves to focus on a particular virtue to cultivate in the students. Refer to the virtue, look for the virtue put into practice and reinforce this good behavior for the students on an ongoing basis. Teaching the virtue of responsibility helps to motivate and direct the students in the initiative and follow through of the expectations.
- School traditions: Traditions create that atmosphere of enthusiasm, charity, joy, and family spirit in the school. Emphasize the value of the traditions to the students. Encourage them to identify, love and appreciate the traditions. These assist in building school spirit, as well as their school family.
- Daily schedule preparation: Post the daily schedule; use alternate colors for interest and maximum visual attention. Review the schedule each morning.
- Varied seating: Vary the seating arrangements of the students at different times of the year. This gives the students the opportunity to learn to work with new neighbors and to be able to have some variation with proximity to the board, and teacher.
- Music: Play calming classical instrumental music at certain times during the week in the classroom. Studies have suggested that calming instrumental music is effective in developing creativity.
- Folders: Each student should have a school folder in which all-important papers are sent home. This folder can also be used for homework and will help to keep the student organized.
- School store: If using a point system, accumulated points can allow students to make purchases at the store (items kept in a special box, closet, case). The merchandise can be displayed at certain periods at the beginning of the week. This works as a visual reminder and an incentive for the students.
- Proximity: Close proximity sitting next to the student, speaking calmly to the student or just standing close by will decrease disruptive behavior.
- Problem solving forms: Use one of the various problem-solving forms when conflicts arise. A «Letter of Apology» form than can be used when a student needs to apologize to accompany a verbal apology in more serious cases. A plan of action form to improve or to achieve a goal.
- Class points: Display a tally system of points on the board. Every time students are performing well, give them a point. When the class earns a certain number of points by the end of the week, reward them with a special class activity at the end of the week.
- Marble jar: If the class is doing well add a marble to the marble jar. When the jar is filled, they get to do a special class activity. Count the marbles regularly as a regular math activity for Pre-K students.
- Positive popsicle sticks: Write out positive comments on Popsicle or craft sticks like «great helper», «super effort,” etc. and hand them out accordingly. When each student receives a certain number of Popsicle sticks, they can receive a reward.
- Providing assistance: Once the lesson has been presented, answer individual student questions. During this time, be aware of what is happening in all areas of the classroom. Circulate among the students to monitor and provide assistance to them.
I hope these eight general topics will support you to constructive staff development sessions for a successful academic cycle in 2014 – 15.