My philosophy on classroom management was first given any real foundation from my 2nd year of teaching at my first school, Burlingame Intermediate. The office was getting flooded with students kicked out of class with no understanding of what consequences had occurred prior to this action. So, the school hired Noah Salman of iunderstand.com. While some of the staff didn’t like his approach, I was convinced.
One big mistake we can mistake as teachers is engaging in a back and forth exchange with a student regarding behavior. He also said to be friendly, not friends with your students. Teachers without training in classroom management need training, and these are the tools he introduces. Mr. Salzman talked about using “Foggers” on students. These are quick responses that end an exchange that is unproductive for you, the student, and most importantly the rest of the class. Some of his examples are:
- I understand.
- I see.
- Uh huh.
- Mm Hmm…
- That’s not the point.
- Or plain old, silence. Do not respond.
Instead of responding a second time to a student, use a fogger. He did advise not to use a fogger more than 3 times, because then it’s a broken record and ineffective.
His first tool is the Teacher Creed. I introduce all this with my students within the first few days. It follows:
- As your teacher, I will not allow you to do anything that’s not in the best interest of this classroom.
- As your teacher, I will not allow you to stop anyone from learning for any reason whatsoever.
- As your teacher, I will not allow you to stop me from teaching for any reason whatsoever.
- No manipulations (excuses)
- Never question my management system while I am teaching.
His third tool is addressing the student without a fogger. Here is how to effectively address a student:
- State their name.
- Make eye contact.
- Proximity (move closer)
- Point to the rule and clearly state the rule.
Noah talked about roadblocks students have towards behaving and the excuses people use: he/she cannot behave, have emotional problems, inadequate parenting, poverty environment. This could be up for debate as to how with structure these will not prohibit a student from behaving.
The fourth tool is developing and posting a classroom management plan complete with rules, positives, consequences, and a severe clause. He believes there sould be a maximum of 5 rules. He also thinks that the 5th consequence is a referral to leave the room, but I make that my 3rd consequence. Having it as a 4th consequence would be a good compromise, but I like it as a 3rd. For rules to be effective, they must be observable, objective, and behavioral.
The rules that we developed as a staff are the ones I have continued to use which are:
- Follow instructions.
- Keep your hands, feet, and objects to yourself.
- No harassment or bullying of any kind.
- Arrive on time, prepared, and ready to learn.
- No distractions (gum, electronics without teacher permission, revealing clothing)
Below the Rules is the Positives. I have:
- Raffle tickets for drawing every 2 weeks
- Positive Phone Call home
- Happy teacher = happy student
These rules are discussed with students and I ask my students to interpret what these rules mean and what manipulations means in the teacher creed.
The biggest mistake any teacher can make is not having consequences. Without consequences, students will not follow the rules, continue breaking them, and a majority of the class will lose respect for the teacher and the learning environment will be lost.
The best advice I ever got was “As a teacher, you’re driving a stagecoach. Keep the reigns pulled tight as you begin. You can always loosen up the reigns later. Once you let go of the reigns, those horses (students) are gone.”
The consequences, that this year will be kept track of on a class roster clipboard by a different student each week are:
- 5 minute timeout, completing written reflection of what you did to get the first and second warning. Pickup trash after class.
- Parent Phone Call Home / Referral (detention)
A severe clause would result in being sent to office with a referral.
Finally, last but not least is procedures. Mr. Salzman talked about teaching students a procedure using three criterion:
- Noise Level
This basically means where you should be seated, what materials you are supposed to have out, and the noise level, low, medium, or high.
Some example procedures are entering the classroom. I would line up the students outside to restate the procedure if they did not do it properly.
- Go to your seat.
- Take out your Estimation 180 worksheet and put a high, low, guess, and reason.
- Low noise level working independently.
I’ve used the Organizedbinder.com’s kick off procedure for this but this year I am going to start each day with estimating while I take attendance.
You can have procedures for Direction Instruction, Groupwork, Presentation, getting water, bathroom signout procedure, tardy procedure, and an absent policy (folder to check, etc.)
Noah Salzman made a distinction with his dismissal procedure. He has a procedure called pre-dismissal. This is a minute to go in class when you are putting your materials away and cleaning up your area.
For dismissal procedure, students will:
- Sit up in their seat and face forward.
- Clear your desk
- No talking
This goes along with the teacher dismisses you, not the bell. This gives you a chance to get the last word in and also to make sure kids don’t leave their table a mess (Resource Managers: did you do your job??).
Since all of these aspects are done in the first week, I have in the past done icebreakers like Name Game with students. You stand in a circle and the first person:
- States their name.
- Does a silent pantomine action (swinging a baseball bat)
- Then the whole group repeats your name and does the action you just did.
- At the end, you ask if anyone can state the name and action of every person in order in the room.
While you’re still in a circle, you can do a rhythm game called Slap, clap, snap, snap.
- Slap your thighs as you say my name is.
- Clap your hands and say your name.
- As you snap your fingers twice you say, “Who are you?”
Any feedback, positive, negative and/or constructive is appreciated.