As the school year comes to a close, you and your students may be taking time to reflect on the year, especially the culture of your classroom. What went well? What would you change? Perhaps you feel like you and your students built the bond of a lifetime! Or, maybe things felt a little off.
Since the building of class culture starts the very first day of school, summer can be a great time to plan how you want to build your culture next year. Since every educator’s summer plans are different, Teaching Channel has a variety of learning options for how you can deepen your understanding of building class culture, including a brand new course. You may even be able to do some of these options poolside, lakeside, or wherever your summer vacation takes you.
Your students just won’t stop talking. You feel like you’re constantly talking over people just to be heard. We’ve all been there!
If your classroom has become too chatty, start by figuring out if the talk is productive or not. Sometimes talking is actually a good thing. If students are talking about the task at hand, you may want to encourage them to continue (just at a quieter volume!). But if students are off task and chatty, this requires a different approach.
Use these tips to help your classroom become more peaceful:
Inclusion practices have moved many students from special education rooms into mainstream classes, and as I’ve traveled the states as Oregon Teacher of the Year, I’ve heard one message loud and clear:
General education teachers need help adapting their classrooms and lessons for a wider range of skills.
We have classrooms with students reading at the Pre-K level sitting next to kids who read at the pre-college level.
Teachers need help.
These differences in ability are not just academic. Think of your own classrooms and the different behaviors and social skills you navigate each day. We have kids all over the place — so we teachers are going to be teaching all over the place.
Teaching Channel has invited me in to look at their amazing video lessons from inspiring teachers and imagine some adaptations that might help out your learners with IEPs (Individualized Education Programs). This is not to critique their outstanding work, but rather a special education teacher thinking about what one of my students might need to succeed — in that classroom, and with that same lesson. I want to set the tone from blog one and let these amazing teachers know how much they inspire me.
And on that note, I can’t think of a better video lesson to start with than Nick Romagnolo’s Setting the Tone from Day One. Hats off to Nick, because had I seen this video as a student teacher, I would’ve had a much better start to my career!
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?
No matter how proactive you are, the reality is that students may still very well witness or experience cyberbullying. Acknowledging this and understanding how to deal with the aftermath is just as important as knowing how you can prevent it.
Changing the culture of how we prevent and respond to cyberbullying can lead to powerful effects in the larger community. Rather than simply focusing on the aftermath, we must guide students to understand that they have a choice in all of their online relationships. They can say something positive or say something mean. They can create great community support around activities or interests, or they can misuse the public nature of online communities to tear others down.
To best help students make the right decisions, it’s important that schools and communities understand all facets of cyberbullying and digital drama.
As a teacher-librarian, I spend most of my days answering questions, teaching research, and helping students find good books. It’s the best job in the world.
Last spring, it seemed not a day went by when I wasn’t asked about the book Thirteen Reasons Why. With the premiere of the Netflix series, parents and teachers wanted to talk about their concerns with the show. Students wanted to get their hands on the book on which the series was based. Jay Asher’s book was not the first, nor would it be the last, to address bullying and the effects it can have on victims, bystanders, and the bullies themselves.
The beauty of books, more so than television shows, is that they can help us develop empathy or allow us to see inside a character’s head for awhile. Kids who are bullied may feel a little less alone if they read about a character being bullied in a book. Kids who are bystanders or bullies may be motivated to change, even just a little, if they see themselves mirrored in a paragraph or two.
October is National Bullying Prevention Month, here are some educational resources for your classroom:
1. National Bullying Prevention Center has a page full of resources with facts, informational handouts, toolkits, and educational activities.
2. Facing History, Facing Ourselves is a website dedicated to combatting racism and prejudice. Find resources that will take you beyond anti-bullying month. You will find lesson plans, videos, podcasts, webinars and much more on topics such as antisemitism, civil rights, and genocide.
3. Go to The Learning Network for writing and discussion starters, articles, and links to other resources on the Web.
As Connecticut Grieves, We All Grieve
Teachers work incredibly hard to create safe and welcoming classrooms. We pay attention to how students interact with each other, implement zero-tolerance policies on bullying, and greet students with smiles as they walk in the door. All in the name of love, all in the name of learning.
And then something as devastating as the Connecticut tragedy happens.
Solution-Focused Resources You Can Use Now
The issue of bullying in school is front and center this week, as the much talked about documentary, “Bully,” hits the theaters. The film has been in the headlines for the past few weeks because its controversial “R” rating angered many who felt it would be a barrier to the young people who would most benefit from seeing the film.