Jun 11, 2009

More on (Moron) Classroom Management

This is a follow-up to my last post on sharing my classroom with teachers who are weak in classroom management:

I empathize with one of the 4 teachers because she genuinely tries to make an effort. In fact, from where she started in the beginning of the year, her classroom management has come a long way. However, she's a 3rd year teacher. Come on now.

It's tough. It is. 90 min. 5 days a week full of eye rolling, calling out, talking back, constant fist fights, neck rolling, sucking teeth, throwing inappropriate hand gestures, cursing, getting out of the seat, being off task, being defiant, etc. One student called me a "bitch" and another student pushed me into a wall. All in the first two months of school.

And now, there is NONE of that. No gum, no attitude, everyone is doing their work. It takes my students literally 40 seconds to sit down and start their "Do Now" assignments (I time them every day and if they beat or reach their previous time, they earn minutes which go into our "Time Bank" used for class movie time once they accumulate 60 minutes). They can read 45 minutes straight in complete silence. They speak respectfully, and if I have to call a student out for talking or being off task, I immediately get a genuine, "I'm sorry Ms. Sapida." Everyone raises their hand before they speak. When someone is speaking, everyone else knows to put their hand down. There is no, "SHUT UP." Only "Please be quiet."

I'm really proud of my management, but it took A LOT of work on my part to get to where I am with my kids now:
  1. I spent many hours and months before I became a teacher asking veterans for their top tips they wish they'd known their first year.
  2. I read 2 books about management. I highly recommend Robert J. Mackenzie's book - Setting Limits.
  3. I spent an entire month creating and practicing structures with my kids. I even had lesson plans written for things like paper passing, accountable talk (e.g., "That's a good point, but I disagree with ____. In my opinion, ______"), asking clarifying questions (e.g. "You said, ____. I'm confused. Can you please clarify that?), raising your hand, etc.
I've approached these teachers (who've each been teaching in between 5-12 years) about the level of disrespect and disorder in the classroom, and I kid you not, their responses have all been, "Well, what's the point? It's the end of the year" (even though it was only April), OR "It's not my fault he can't behave." I'm THIS close to snapping, "Really? He can't behave? Because HE CAN IN MY CLASS."

I understand that procedures and habits change as students get older, but even so, there are things like practicing accountable talk so that students clearly know how to have meaningful, respectful and effective discussions in class (In fact, I'll post my lesson plan up for this soon).

I also understand that it's harder to start good management in the middle of the year.

BUT IF YOU'VE BEEN TEACHING FOR 5-12 YEARS, by now you should have done something to address the issue. Otherwise, a young first year teacher will judge you and assume that you are either lazy, ignorant, or just plain incapable. Observe classrooms with good management. Build structures. Read theory. Practice, rinse, repeat. If it works for you, keep it. If it doesn't, try something else. There's something for everyone. You just have to put in the time and effort.

Ugh. I probably sound b*tchy, but these teachers really need to be proactive about these things. The kids aren't learning anything and so many hours are COMPLETELY wasted with them arguing with the teacher or each other or just staring at the wall or gossiping. On top of wasting valuable learning time, it's very negative to the school community and their personal growth in general.

As a first year teacher, I also feel limited in addressing the problem. I think administration also needs to do a better job with giving professional development opportunities to help improve this aspect of our teaching. Who's there to blame really? Everyone.


Miss Cal.Q.L8 said...

I am starting my first year of teaching this fall but I have been subbing at the same school since January. I don't have very strong classroom management skills in the classes I sub for but I am planning, praying, and hoping that it will be different in my own classroom. What are some good ways to start out strong?

Liz said...

Take a look at this great classroom management plan, the "Wold Pack Classroom Management Plan," by a teacher who specializes in the subject and in helping children relax AND get along, Janis Gioia. Life skills and social skills will make a big difference to kids and adults alike in the classroom. The plan helps create a nurturing classroom based on the social habits of wolves: so you get kindness, caring, teamwork and cooperation. It's written by a teacher for teachers and it's concise, easy to implement and fun for teachers and students.

Good luck!

Kristen said...

I love your idea about putting minutes the students earn into movie time. I am a firm believe that positive motivation is more effective and long lasing than negative. I found a book on classroom management you might enjoy. It's called The Wolf Pack Classroom Management Plan. It has great ideas on creating a peaceful, communicative environment.

Eyawn said...

Lol @ wolfpack management. Who are you people and who's paying you?

Liz said...

You must really be careful with your teeth because it's not that easy to bear the pain when it's already there.