How Does She Do That?

August 15, 2016

As the school year approaches, our thoughts begin to move away from summer vacations and back to the classroom. One question that might arise is how the teacher down the hall always seems to have the most well-behaved students. This is probably not as simple as that teacher always getting the “best” students; instead it probably has a lot more to do with the intentionality of her classroom management practices. 

Here are a few fairly straight forward actions a teacher can take to encourage desired classroom behavior.  

  • When students are involved in developing the class expectations, they feel more ownership of them and are more likely to follow the rules. Three to five expectations are a desirable number. Before I began allowing my students to do this, I worried that they would not propose any rules. To my surprise, it was quite the opposite. They wanted more rules than I would have ever put in place.

  • Once the expectations are determined, it is imperative to their success that the students practice engaging in the desired behaviors. When I first began teaching, I thought the teachers who had their students practice lining up, walking in the hall, or taking turns were wasting critical “academic time." I soon learned that practicing these skills at the beginning of the year and reviewing them regularly throughout the year actually resulted in fewer classroom management issues and therefore allowed for more instructional time. 

  • It is important that the teacher be consistent with the classroom expectations and provide follow through when the rules are either followed or broken. Children are pros at quickly determining which adults set expectations and stand by them and which “talk the talk but do not walk the walk." 

  • The final practice is vital but many teachers are not aware of it when it occurs. Any behavior that is attended to has a higher likelihood of reoccurring; this applies to both desired and undesired behaviors. Most in education are accustomed to acknowledging desired behaviors, for example, calling on a student when he raises his hand. What is often not realized is when a teacher gives attention to the child who does not raise his hand but instead shouts out the answer. Doing this actually reinforces the undesired behavior and makes it more likely that the behavior will happen again in the future. This is not to say that aggressive behavior should be ignored, but instead that positive behavior should be acknowledged at least as much, if not more than undesirable behavior. 

If followed consistently, these few tips can make a tremendous difference in classroom management and the overall environment in the room.

 

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Training Spotlight

1st-3rd grade educators worked together to learn engaging ways to develop number sense. Students will develop fact fluency while playing games that use their number sense strategies. By learning their facts in this way, students are not merely memorizing, but rather learning to work with numbers flexibly.  “Low achievers are often low achievers not because they know less but because they don’t use numbers flexibly – they have been set on the wrong path, often from an early age, of trying to memorize methods instead of interacting with numbers flexibly.” Jo Boaler,  Stanford University, 2009

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