Last Monday’s #MSMathChat was very productive for me. I have many weaknesses as a teacher, but I think my Achilles Heel is classroom management. I tend to get lost in the content that I’m presenting to my students which makes me a little like this:
The conversation last Monday centered around age appropriate behavior and how to manage what happens in class so you can effectively teach. (Storify-ed version here.) What behaviors do you address? What behaviors do you ignore? This all made me think long and hard about what I do in my classroom–and I found that I’m allowing too many of my students to divert my attention with inappropriate behavior, and the other students are getting frustrated with that. I see it in their eyes, and it’s a reflection of what I also feel. I sat down early last week (Tuesday or Wednesday I think) and identified which students are “vampirically” sucking my attention, and what behaviors they are exhibiting. This was eye-opening to me. What I discovered was that only 3-5 students in my two most challenging classes are the culprits. (Well, really, I’m the culprit–they’re my accomplices, if you want to get technical about it.)
We are contracted with a consultant named Sarah Buckerfield to work on school-wide bell-to-bell management strategies. Since the new semester started, I have changed my classroom seating structure (from groups to desks facing forward in groups of two) and have implemented use of my iPhone alarm system to alert me when 2 minutes before the warning bell sounds so I can give students (and me) enough time to pack up and prepare for the next class. This has helped a lot, but I was obviously missing some key components to make it more solid and run more smoothly. That’s where Monday’s #MSMathChat came in. Again, the Power of the PLC is rockin’!
My desk arrangement. It’s working well so far.
These are some things that I really liked from the chat and blogs that I read on a regular basis that I plan on implementing:
- Reflection forms for inappropriate classroom behavior (a la @lydiakirkman and Math=Love)
- Ignoring certain behaviors that really don’t affect the learning in the class (I find that they only affect learning if I address them)
- Accentuating the positive (a la @Mr_Oldfield–he gives handwritten postcards to students with positive feedback. So cool!!!)
- Keeping students accountable to expectations that they determine (a la @MathNeil). I already have expectations that the students came up with, but I forget a lot of the time to reinforce them.
- Continue to reach out to my PLC via Twitter and #MTBoS. There is so much to learn out there. (Actually, when I mentioned in class that I was going to blog about this, one of my students said, “That’s rather arrogant, don’t you think?” He thought I was going blog because I thought what I was doing was such a wonderful job that other teachers should be doing it too! I had to reverse that line of thinking by letting him know that I was in fact doing the opposite–reaching out to other awesome teachers to get input and ideas to improve my teacher-self.)
I would love to hear what you do in your class that you find successful in keeping students focused and on task. Please comment!