Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Classroom Management, Part One

As part of our fall training for Teacher Corps we do small, mentoring workshops when the first-years come up for Saturday class (about twice a month). First-years meet in small groups (two or three) with a second-year. The focus initially is on classroom management. Before the meeting we ask each first-year to write down their biggest classroom challenge. Here are some excerpts from the first meeting last year (names and specifics have been altered):

1st Year Classroom Management Reflections
First Saturday Class

What is your biggest classroom management challenge? Why?

• Beginning of class procedure
• Constant talking/getting class’s attention
• Questions-so many
• Freshmen-disrespect

All the kids cannot stop talking (6th grade). They will not do anything quietly, or it takes ten minutes for them to get quiet. I’ve tried talking with them as a group, individually, and assigning extra homework. It is too many of them!

Inconsistent with what seems to be my natural teaching style-a discourse-heavy inductive process. In general, 30% of students are engaged, 40% of students disruptive, 30% inactive/asleep. I have to read both management and teaching styles, but I do not know where to begin.

The same students just speak out without raising their hands. Often, it is relevant to the lesson, either answering or asking questions, but the rest of the class is not given a chance to answer. A few times, entire classes have been too disruptive.

Lunch: Getting students to all stay together. They buy ice cream when we need to leave soon and eat in the hall all the way back to class. Students go to the restroom on the way back to class but it is difficult to control 27 energetic students

Students talk in class. Especially in my bigger classes, the talking is a huge problem. I hand out essays as punishment, but I don’t think I have given out as many as I need to. I want complete silence, and students think the rule does not apply to them.

Being consistent. It is hard for me to be tough on kids. I already think I have opened myself up too much to them.

7th period- because….
-some of the students feed off each other-creating classroom disturbances
-it’s the last period of the day
-it’s the 5th time I have taught the class

Crystal. She’s decided to be my nemesis. I have a plan though. She takes discipline personally.

Students interrupting and complaining when I’m talking, small like that-it’s not a problem now but it will be in the future. I feel like I am not quite in control and have just been floating by.

Students talking when I am talking. Well, it is a significant problem since we can’t always get everything I want to get done since no one can hear me.

Pressure-too much.

Getting students to not talk and do their work during class. They get off track easily and I need to be more controlling and specific.

Students talking during class- I can get them to get quiet (I can’t) but they often start talking again. As a result, I spend class time doling out consequences: warnings and essays.

6th period. It’s a big class, and eight of the students are repeating it (11th-12th graders in 10th grade English.) There are so many of them and they are so inclined to be rowdy, that my normal classroom management plan, while not ineffective, requires too much time and energy. It’s working, but it’s stressful.

Oral Communications (The class)
-This should be a semester class but it is year long
-No books
-No curriculum
-Students don’t want to be there
-Upperclassmen; I’m “the new kid”
-This class is turning the corner, but it’s only happening because of my personality and my “inspired fantacisim”

Quieting a large class (30+ students). I have been able to get my kids to quiet down, however, I would like learn more methods.

The students are almost afraid to ask questions and do class discussions because of what they have heard about me. The reputation is nice, because I have no classroom management problems and I don’t want to lose it, but I need to find a balance where they are comfortable, but managed.

-often isolated events. The class gets quiet when I ask for it, but 15 minutes later they get loud again. Warnings, staying after class, and detentions don’t always work. It doesn’t stop me from teaching, but losing one minute five times really adds up by the end of the class.

Students talking over the teacher in large numbers and getting attention go hand in hand.

7th period- The kids are ready to leave and they get very talkative. They raise their hands to tell me “we have five minutes left” expecting that I will quit teaching and they start putting their stuff in their bags early. The other classes are great.

Students who don’t want to work AT ALL!! 2-3 in my big class. They are 15-16 in 9th grade pre-algebra and just don’t seem to care. I am not going to keep reassuring them. I am tired of talking to a closed door.

My greatest challenge is a study skills class I teach. The students all know that the teachers still have no curriculum and that failing the course will not hold them back a grade. Also, I decided not to include this class in my contest, a decision I regret now.

-Students talking when I am talking especially at the beginning of class.
-Getting students to keep their notebooks the way I want them to be
-Writing numbers on the board while I’m individually helping someone
-Getting students to keep area clean before leaving class

Following through on my consequences: PLAN- Generally a verbal warning and teacher look of sternness get my job done with my class. Management (80% of time)

Students talk when I have asked them not to talk

5th period-inclusion class-they all talk constantly as a class. I think though, I have some ideas to use from today. I will put the entire class on a warning, and say the next person who talks will write.

Talkers. I have a lot of 8th graders who love to chat. They will talk while they are supposed to be working, or listening or everything. Four five kids are the main culprits, but there are others as well. A related problem: A few students like to ask inane questions. I came down harder on the talkers and questioners on Friday and that seemed to help, but I still anticipate major problems.

My greatest challenge is gaining kid’s respect. I’m young and I look young. Students try to take advantage of that and they show disrespect by talking when I am talking. They blatantly talk about how they are not going to do their work and how the class is ridiculous because I expect too much from them.

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