Thursday, July 19, 2012

Classroom Management

As a first year teacher I was so fortunate to have the very best mentor teacher, Brenda Duncan. She was awesome. I pretty much cloned my classroom after hers. It worked. It was the very best first year imaginable. I would literally wake up every morning and be excited about work, and I mean, everyday. Year 2 was different. I had a whole new set of kids.  I learned a lot. Again though, I mirrored my classroom after "Duncan's" and tried a few new things. It was still a really good year.

The one thing that didn't change and didn't for about 10 years of teaching was the management plan she taught me. We had the typical "color" system and positive classroom rules. The most important thing that we did was have a system in place and we used it, consistently.

In my third school district, I went into a team that had a system in place so I adapted to that plan and it worked. Again, it was a color system and positive rules. The thing was, there was a plan, it was implemented and it worked!

For a few years I wasn't a classroom teacher and behavior wasn't an issue. I did a pull out program and students saw it as a reward already. They saw me for thirty minute blocks, we used computers a lot. Time flew by. Behavior issues were very minimal.

Then, I went to middle school. Everything was different. I implemented a management plan, sort of. I had some "Respect Rules" posted on my wall. Each letter represented a positive behavior that was expected in class. It was on nice blue paper. It was large on the front wall and all the students could see it from any place they sat in the classroom. I even had my classes copy the rules in their agendas. I mean, they carry these with them every where, I thought it was such a good plan.

I can sit here and laugh about it now. It was ridiculous. I had no management in my classes. I had 50 minutes with them and I spent a great deal of time yelling. I was so frustrated and those sixth graders could see it. Most elementary kids respect their teachers just because he/she is the "teacher". Middle school kids, especially first year middle school kids, don't. These kids have crazy hormones and new found freedom. They are testing the waters and they want it all. Much of the school year was un-fun. It was really, really hard.

Each week, we attended a mandatory PLC (Professional Learning Community) meeting for our Math department. Honestly, they seemed like a waste of time to me.
One week though, another teacher shared some strategies she learned about at a workshop. It was something about dealing with unmotivated, tough kids or something. My first thought was, "Why hadn't I heard about that workshop?" Then I realized I wouldn't have gone anyway, so just listen to her. It was  a quick synopsis, but something clicked.

After the meeting I took a second look and thought, how can I make this work for me? I needed something.
Unfortunately I can't give credit to who invented this, but I will say, I didn't. I made it work for me. I want to share that with you. I don't want credit for it.

What I took away is called the 4 P's; Punctual, Prepared, Polite, Productive 
Working when tardy bell rings
Have all required materials when tardy bell rings
Appropriate language and behavior
 Daily Assignments completed by end of period

I made a bulletin board for all to see. I spent a great deal of class time explaining the procedure and the most important part was I enforced it, daily
Here's one example of what I posted.

How'd it work? My students had a chance to get 10 points per day, 50 for the week. I multiplied that by 2 on Fridays and that became a daily grade for them each week. I made adjustments as needed for absences and such. Just did some simple dividing as needed. Ex: 30/40 points = a 75 for their weekly grade.

The 10 point breakdown:
3 points came from a "Daily Quiz". This was their warm up and was normally posted on the white board. Something quick and a review from a previous lesson. It was designed to only take a eight minutes max.

Punctual, Prepared, and Polite are worth 1 point each.
I love these. You either got it or didn't. If you were in your seat working when the tardy bell rang, you got 1 point. I love when they would say, "I was in the room." I would only have to point to the definition of punctual and the argument ceased.
Same for prepared. Students knew that meant having a pencil and their Math journal.

Productive is worth 4 points, You do the work, you get your points.

At one point after implementing this system the science teacher across the hall peeked in my room after the tardy bell and was amazed that ALL my kids were in their seat doing their warm up. Trust me, 2 points made a huge difference to them.

To me, the most important part of making this work was the students saw the points they received daily. I tried using a clip board and checklist, but they kept asking me, "What I get? How many points today?"
So, since they are required to have their math journals everyday, I stapled a log in the front and walked around and gave points. I know this seems tedious and for 100+ students a day, it is, honestly. But, the flip side to that was my class ran smoothly and that is worth it to me.

I have two different charts. The first is one I used and liked, but I wanted more weeks in one place. The second is what I am going to use starting in August. I know the dates for my school are probably different than you, so instead of saving it as a PDF, I am just uploading it as an Excel document.

Feel free to adjust it as needed. 

Here's what I know when it comes to classroom management.

1. Have a plan
2. Teach it
3. Implement it
4. Enforce it

I hope you find something  that works for you and your students.
Any suggestions? I  would love to hear those as well.

Good Luck!

1 comment:

  1. Can you email me your pdf of the 4 P's? Thx