You’ve set up your classroom. You know your kids and curriculum. You have the basics down.
Everything is running smoothly, except…
There’s one student who disrupts your class on a regular basis. One student who doesn’t respond to the expectations of the classroom.
The whole situation may have you feeling frustrated and discouraged.
Stop right there.
The first thing you need to realize is that this is not about you.
As personal as some students can seem to make it, your first task is to change your own perspective. Children who misbehave or adolescents who act out are almost always expressing an emotion or a problem that’s just beneath the surface. The key to improving their behavior is to figure out what function that action serves and then address the root of the problem.
So, where do you start?
It’s that most wonderful time of the year. Well, sort of.
Teaching in December can be tricky and sometimes downright difficult. You may find yourself digging deeper and deeper into your bag of tricks. You may need something fresh to keep you and your students on track. You may simply need a break.
You can survive and even thrive in December! Here are four tips to get you through the holiday season.
Depending on when your school year started, you’ve probably made it through the initial sprint of setting up routines, establishing the foundation for your class culture, and everything in between. Now as you move into the fall, it’s time to evaluate and refine your communication with families.
- How are you letting them know about your classroom’s activities?
- How are they learning about the progress of their children?
- How are you getting families involved?
Check out these four tips for communicating with your students’ families throughout the school year.
You stand in front of your class, ready to dive into the lesson for the day. Before you speak your first complete sentence, two students start an audible conversation in the back of the room. And from the corner of your eye, you notice a boy in the front taking things out of his desk. Before you can deal with those two issues, you’re interrupted by a fourth student, who yells out a question from the periphery.
It’s not even 9 AM and you’re already feeling a little overwhelmed.
If this sounds like a typical morning, you’re not alone! No matter where you teach, classroom management is paramount to learning. Fair or not, part of your performance evaluation will depend upon how well you manage your classroom so that student behavior doesn’t create a barrier to learning. So, let’s look at some key ingredients for a well-managed classroom.
I began my teaching career in January, after a December graduation.
That first day, I took a deep breath and started to tell my first period class of eighth graders about my expectations.
A boy I’ll call Ben bounced out of his seat and turned away from me.
“Sit down,” I said.
“No,” he said. “We have to say the pledge.”
Just then, the speaker crackled to life and a voice from above asked the students to stand.
Ben was a challenge throughout the semester. But the first day Pledge of Allegiance was just the first of many things that could’ve gone better — if only I’d had someone to tell me the simple things about the school’s routines, and was there to help me improve my classroom management. By the end of the semester I decided to give teaching one more year, promising myself that if it didn’t get better, I’d look for a different career. The next fall I had a new job in a different district, where I was happy to stay.
Over time, I’ve benefited from the help of many of my more experienced colleagues. And I’ve mentored numerous student teachers and first-year educators, both formally and informally, and learned from them as well. Unfortunately, many districts still expect beginning teachers to “go it alone.”
What can you do if you find yourself in this situation?
Your only choice is to be your own mentor.
Back-to-School time is the perfect opportunity to take a look back at some of your favorite Teaching Channel videos. Start your new school year off right by watching our most popular videos of 2017 (so far).
Editor’s Note: This post was originally featured on Geneviève DeBose’s blog, Back To The Point, on September 6, 2016.
Today was technically the first day of my 13th year as a middle school teacher. I use the word technically because no students were at school today, but our hallways and classrooms were filled with colleagues buzzing about getting ready for the arrival of our scholar activists. It felt really good to be back.
Usually I end the summer reluctantly. Of course I’m happy to return to school, but who doesn’t want just one more week of summer? Strangely, this year feels different. I was ready to come back. Looking forward to it, actually. I can’t pinpoint exactly why. Regardless, it feels good to want to return to school, to want to see my colleagues, to want to meet my kiddos.
There’s just something about teachers — I don’t know if it’s nature, nurture, or some combination of the two, but teachers are clever. If you need a problem solved in a way that is practical, economical, innovative, and immediate, your best bet is to find a teacher and present your problem as a challenge.
Teachers also know the value of iteration. They understand that we learn from our first attempts that fail, and they’re cool with it. Add to this mix a willingness to learn from the iterations of others and a strong bias against reinventing the wheel, and you can see why teachers are among the most resourceful, ingenious, and inspired individuals. Teachers are hackers, no doubt!
Though we may be problem solvers at heart, the classroom is unpredictable and perfection is a pipe dream. We march forward with good intent, but there always seems to be that one thing that didn’t work out quite like we planned. The more complex the puzzle, the harder we work to devise a solution.
I’ve always been one of those people who has a tough time really wrapping my head around the new school year until the physical space of our classroom is ready. That may be the residue of years of Augusts in my mom’s 4th grade classroom, watching her think and craft and organize in the most enthusiastic ways. It could be a little of my penchant for tidy spaces. But, most likely, it’s because I know the actual work of teaching is so unpredictable, so kinetic, so messy, that having our classroom space ready gives me a sense of calm.
Space is important. It’s not everything. It doesn’t have to define us (I know so many of you teach in spaces that are difficult to work with), but the way we use the space we have can reflect what we believe about teaching and learning. In fact, it does reflect what we believe. It’s the first message anyone gets about what learning will look like in this classroom. And I know this matters to you. In a recent “Ask Sarah” column, I answered a reader’s question about what an ideal classroom can look like.
Being a new teacher is extremely exciting and completely exhausting. So let me start by shouting this loud and clear:
We are here to help you!
Because we know that starting your teaching career can be all consuming, we’ve created our New Teacher Deep Dive just for you.