Experiencing a Classroom Management Nightmare

Experiencing a Classroom Management Nightmare

The education of our youth has become increasingly difficult as times have changed. Remember the “Goodyear Blimp”? It was a toy, a symbol of the 1980s, yet it looms large in our present day classrooms. Students competent in reading and writing are increasingly finding themselves at a loss as to how to manage a classroom where they lack both the reading and writing skills needed for it. More and more we find ourselves teaching to a test – where implementing resources or providing opportunities for students to practice is required not to simply present a test.

It is not uncommon for me as a substitute teacher to complete a residency requirement in an adult education program where I work as a reading specialist. After completing my requirements, I move into a teaching program that continues to address literacy as a main focus. Even topics such as free/ red/blue printing, proper use of runic learners, and general computer use are just a few of the topics I spent time addressing in my educational program. In the mean time, I begin to run into students – the majority of whom are struggling readers.

Even though I teach in a progressive school that stresses overall academic excellence, there is still a lot of work that is put in the classroom to make up for technical shortcomings. The “textbook approach” to teaching – where students learn to regurgitate information rather than arrive at knowledge – is not the approach I have adopted with the kids. Although students arrive at short term conclusions (often by the method of repetition), I teach them to form long term understandings.

One way of getting students to consider a topic, organize a group discussion, and present their tentative conclusions is to give them a lecture. After the lecture, I ask students to write some notes for each other in order to put the discussion into some broader perspective. This is also a good way for students to refine their researching skills. Going into “research mode” has been a key strategy for educating at least the last 5 years and probably longer.

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Openly sharing information (be it new math techniques or a new language), or ideas that have not been covered in class can be a strategy that works for open discussion. This is especially effective when the student has the curiosity and the willingness to learn but just doesn’t know where to start. I have noticed that at least 80% of the students will say, “I don’t know how to explain this!” When they are told to begin, they can’t even guess how to begin the discussion. They don’t know what the question is. I could write a short boring list of tactics, but most of these tactics have been covered in one of the many books on performance techniques. I have spent a lot of time writing about avoiding these five common tips in order to teach students how to learn and, more importantly, how to avoid annoying and inappropriate questions in the classroom.

Classroom management is a skill that can not be learned. However, the most important thing a teacher can do for their students is to be realistic: try not to always tell the students what to do, or else you will receive the standard meltdown and whining about how to do what was done over the weekend. Going over the weekend and into the next day gave the students a chance to process what they had already learned.

Remember, even though a student has a bad day and is unfocused and preoccupied, it is still a good idea to visit every classroom before the next day begins. Building on the successes of the last day allows for a smooth transition into a new and challenging day.

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Every teacher will have a different classroom management strategy to use to accomplish these two goals. We have found that a leaderboard serves as a good classroom management tool. We put all of our students on the leaderboard. The students who have done the most acceptance and have a good experience with the class as a whole. Those students who have had a rough weekend business are the ones that need the most help.

We have found that the best way to address a problem child is to have a leaderboard in our classroom. Here are the rules and the leaderboard for this important issue.

  • Have each student put his name on the leaderboard.
  • The student who has the highest positive attitude is the teacher’s candidate for the “corner office” which is right behind the classroom.
  • This office belongs to the teacher. Therefore, if you want the most challenging working environment, you must take responsibility to promote the most challenging students to lead.
  • To prove that you mean business, you must start with these students as Leaders of their Week.
  • To prove that you are in control, students must have a formal convocation.