I pride myself on my classroom management. Maybe not always success with my management but my effort toward consistent classroom management. Because it’s something I feel I am always improving and working toward, I might get a little stubborn when things don’t go the way I hoped they would.
You can read more about my CM (Classroom Management) philosophy right here. I have a simple, straight forward and to the point plan. I honestly believe that any student can and should follow this. Here is where I get kind of stubborn. The 1st grade group (you know, the one that sent me into labor) just isn’t cooperating with the management plan. I tried every tactic, I got to the last step of my plan each and every class period and none of the kids seemed to care. I knew I had a long-term substitute on her way for the next three months and I just didn’t want to leave her with this mess. It wasn’t fair. What is a teacher to do?
Me, being not only stubborn, but as I look back, maybe a fool, decide it would be a great idea to call my principal in and have her observe me with these students to try to get some pointers. Lets just say I was downright embarrassed. It took about 5 minutes to get all of their eyes and ears. They JUST KEPT TALKING.
Here is what she told me: My management plan was great, but it wasn’t working for these kids. When something isn’t working, what do you do? MAKE A CHANGE. Oh I did not want to hear this. In my mind the kids should make the change for ME. I was the teacher. I am in control and I run my class the way I want. They don’t get to dictate it. Oh do I sound mean now? But as I thought more about it I realized she was probably right. Good teachers adapt to the needs of their students and put their pride aside.
So here is what I did.
I use the letters ART for GROUP voice level and eyes and ears and good clean up. Students lose letters if they don’t follow one of my three simple rules as a group. Instead of losing letters, with all of my 1st grade classes, I decided to have them EARN the letters, which goes in accordance to our Positive Behavior initiative at our school. Students in 1st grade ONLY start with no letters. WHen I notice them listening quietly, coming into the room quiet, following direction the first time, I make a big huge fat deal about it and put up a letter and give tons and tons of praise. As they work, I give lots of praise and give out character slips. Everything I can do boost up the class. Needless to say this is exhausting. Does it go against my philosophy that kids should just DO the right thing and not be rewarded at every turn? Maybe.
Did it work?
Yes, I did notice a change in behavior from the students. It was not perfect, but it was better. Instead of waiting for them to do something wrong and reacting, I was praising them when I saw them do something right and being proactive. In general positivity is important to me and I do agree with this new plan for 1st grade. On a side note, I don’t think you need to put on a dog and pony show just to get kids to listen. I think their job at school is to learn and I am not an entertainer. My job is to teach art.
Oh to feel so torn. In reflection, I think the answer is to make changes as you need to adapt to student needs. You as the teacher need to know when you might be giving in or when the change is necessary to get the desired result.
Want more Classroom Management conversation? Check out all the posts on the blog on Classroom Management, or by clicking Discover More on the side and finding CM in the pulldown. Enjoy!
What do you do when your classroom management plan fails you?