You've made it to the third week of my classroom management series. I am so excited about this topic, because it is so near and dear to my heart (for those of you who don't know, I started teaching in a classroom for kids with emotional, behavior, and learning challenges). It is also so special to me because it makes or breaks my classroom…any classroom, really. If you cannot manage your class, then you cannot teach them. However, it is so easy to get overwhelmed with all the things you want (or are told) to do, so this week I am focusing on how to get real with your management.
- Start Small – Don't try to change everything at once. I am totally guilty of starting five new things all at the same time when I feel like management is getting away from me. My husband, who works with kids with emotional and behavior issues, always reminds me to start small. Pick one thing to change and stick with that thing instead of taking the shotgun approach and doing them all haphazardly.
- Don't Forget They're Kids – Again, guilty as charged. It is sometimes easy to forget they are 8…or 9…or 10. With all the pressure to be on track with your district curriculum and to get through X, Y, and Z before testing begins, it can be easy to forget that they are just kids. They need time to run and play. They can't sit still for 45 minutes when your mini-lesson becomes a maxi-lesson. I have started to be so much more cognizant of this, and when the kids get fidgety, I know my lesson is done (at least for 10 minutes while we take a brain break). As a result of my flexibility, I have found the behavior of my kids improved 12-fold. I also moved to yoga balls a few years ago. That, too, made a huge difference.
- Control the Controllables – I hear this phrase all the time, but I think it really applies to classroom management perfectly. Sometimes I get caught up in the idea that if only Joey would stop talking, then he would be understanding the lesson better…or whatever kid and behavior has caught my eye that day. The truth is, I cannot control Joey or Janet…or any of them really. I can, however, change my approach to the behavior or that child. When I take a step back and really consider what I am doing and what I can do differently, I typically begin to see the whole situation in a new light. It is so hard to do when you have that one friend who knows (and pushes) every button you have, but in the end the only thing you can really change is yourself and your behavior. How you choose to do this (or not do this) impacts how your students react to you…and can make your job so much easier.