Classroom Management is a skill that I am continually growing and adding to. I’ve learned that what works with one class, may not work with another. Also as I gain more experience in different grades I’ve learned that what was cool and grabbed students attention in grade 1 is most likely not going to work in grade 5 (although I did get the attention of 40 youthgroupers wiht a finger play once!)
I believe the first few moments with the students are crucial and tell a lot about how their mood will be for the day. After spending sometime with a Waldorf teacher when working at an alternative school in my city I have learned to watch for signs that a child may have had a difficult evening or morning before school. I have taken RAD (Response Abilities Pathways) training and know from experience that behaviour is a reaction to something else. If I learn how a child is feeling or acting in the morning then I will be able to be understanding of that child and preventative of possible problems throughout the day.
Thus I find it important to greet my students individualy as they enter the classroom. Perhaps with a handshake or a quick word about how their weekend went.
An established morning routine is important for giving students security in knowing what to expect as well as to focus them on beginging their day. When interning in kindergarten students knew to put away their things, deposit notes in the note basket, and quietly read from their book boxes until the teacher was ready to begin attendance. When I pre-interned in a grade five classroom I gave instructions on the board that they were to follow. When they were done they could put their head on their desk or perhaps read quietly until everyone was ready to proceed with the day’s lessons.
I say, “1,2,3, Eyes on me.” Students stop what they are doing and respond, “one, two, eyes on you!.”
I begin quitely performing actions; hands on head, finger on nose, etc., and students begin to mirroir. Once everyone is mirroiring my actions I then have the attention I need to teach or clarify instructions.
Rhythmic Clapping- I clap a rhythm and the class claps it back. We continue until everyone has joined in.
Music and Fingerplays- I often would grab students attention with an action rhyme that they could all join in with. Often I would do it twice; once projecting my voice, and the second getting quieter and quieter so that as students followed my lead they would be calm and ready to listen once it was done.
Many of my attention grabbers worked in transitioning students. I also did the following:
Walking from one area to another doing an action or pretending you are something else. For example, when my kindergartners were learning about leaves we would would move from the carpet to the tables by pretending we were leaves blowing quietly and gently through the wind.
In older grades I often asked for the quietest and neatest row and transition students this way.
Asking students to help pass out materials or to transition to another area who are wearing a certain colour or have a birthday in a certain month has also worked.
Sound Signal- A wind chime was the signal used in kindergarten to bring students back to the carpet after completing the Daily Five. A cleanup song signaled the end of Learning Centers
I love using positive reinforcement as a behviour managment tool. Someways that I reinforce respectful and attentive behaviour is through:
Rewarding an entire class for an individual or group’s behaviour
Noticing outloud a student for displaying appropriate behaviour. (“I love the way that Molly is sitting quietly with her hands on her lap for circle time”)
Quietly telling a student you noticed something they did well earlier that day and letting them know how proud I am.
Asking a child who may struggle to demonstrate appropriate behaviour. (“Mark is going to show us how we are supposed to look when we are reading to ourselves during Daily 5”)
Of course sometimes children need more direction and for them I may:
Give a quiet reminder
Come near them when circling the classroom
Ask to see their beautiful eyes!
Interject their name into the story I am reading. (Once upon a time David, there were three little pigs).
Use a reward system
More to come…