Is it really that bad? You’re doomed? Don’t panic, it doesn’t mean that you don’t have a chance to turn things around. You always have another chance. Some can turn it around during the school year, and some have to wait for a fresh start. Either way, it’s not hopeless!
Everyone has advice on how to manage a classroom. If you choose someone else’s advice, tweak it and make it your own. Below are some ways I have learned to manage my class over the last 29 years.
- Love them. You are not always going to like them, but you should love them. I treat my students the way I would want someone to treat my child. I spend too many hours in the day, and months in the year, not to think of them as my own kids.
- Respect them. It is not okay to call a child names, ever. Whatever you are thinking, should not come out of your mouth. I take a “Woo-sah”, give the kid a timeout, or I will take a timeout before I say something I will regret. And, unfortunately, respect is not always a two-way street, but we are the adults in the room.
- Being Mean Doesn’t Work. There’s a difference between being a teacher who will not let the kids run all over them and being mean. A mean teacher uses sarcasm to put students down. A mean teacher discusses a child’s personal issues in earshot of other students and/or adults. A mean teacher does his/her best to make a child as miserable as they are, on a consistent basis. Humiliation is not a form of classroom management!
- Be Consistent. There are routines I follow in my classroom that I stick with all year. There are consequences to certain actions. I work hard on avoiding favorites so that I can treat all my students fairly.
- Be flexible. Wait a minute! Didn’t I just say to be consistent? Well, you have to be able to change when necessary. You have to make adjustments.
- Smile and/or Laugh. A smile cures so many ailments. My students always get a kick out of seeing me laugh, especially when it’s ” tears flowing from my eyes” laughter. It definitely helped build a connection between my students and I.
- I am Not Their Friend. There are many teachers who do not agree with me on this point. However, my friends are grown folks who are my peers. If I am going to make new friends at this time in my life, they are not going to be 10 or 11 years old. There is a line that my students know they can not cross, and that’s because of our adult/child relationship. If you treat the student as your friend, then they will probably treat you the way they treat their friends.
- Screaming and Yelling are Useless. I can’t say this enough. They.do.not.hear.you. Seriously, they don’t hear you. It’s like the“Charlie Brown” classroom, “Wub, Wub, Wub”. Being calm works so much better than screaming, I learned that a long time ago. If I ever raise my voice, and I rarely do, my kids know, “Oh, oh!”
- Find Out “Why?” We are overwhelmed with everything that is required of us, it makes us lose sight of the little things that might make a difference. Sometimes we have to take a second and find out why a particular child is acting out. Our rush to judgement oftentimes leads us to handle students in a matter that only exacerbates a situation.
- Engage and Challenge them. We are certainly not paid to entertain. So no, you don’t have to sing, dance, and dress in costumes. Although I do dance and sing, I have stayed away from costumes.:) I can’t keep them from being bored every second of the day, but I’ve found student guided learning and integrating technology work a lot better than constant teacher directed learning, teaching to the test, and textbooks. Make sure perceived notions of your class “population” doesn’t keep you from holding them to high expectations.
This blog post was originally posted in Lisa Mims’ blog Diary of a Public School Teacher.