Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Behavior Management

Behavior management is among the most important parts of having a successful classroom.  A teacher can truly know their material, be a genius, be a hard worker, and have a passion for students, but if you lack behavior management skills, that teacher risks leaving the profession due to burn out.
There is no “right” way to manage a classroom, and after years of experience I can tell you that different behavior management plans work better with different types of students and different school cultures.
Start with the basics… a great teacher realizes that they need to teach students what the expectations are daily and practice routines often.  Just as students don’t learn to read over night, they will become perfect students overnight either… practice, maturity, age, environment, lessons, and experience all work together to help students learn to manage themselves (and others) in the classroom.
A great teacher has many different plans all happening at the same time. 
First be deligent and straight forward about practicing classroom rules & routines.  It is best to have them posted in your classroom.  Having a picture with the rules reinforces it better… and if you can practice it with a hand action, even better.
                Example rules
1.       Listen to the speaker.
a.       Stop turn my eyes and ear to the speaker so that I may hear.
2.       Respect and obey my teacher and my friends.
a.       Do what I’m told to do the first time quickly.
3.       Have fun.
4.       Keep my friends safe.
5.       Keep myself safe.
6.       Be a good steward
a.       Take of my schools property, my classrooms property, my teachers property, my own property, and my parents property.
7.       Use inside voices and walking feet.
8.       Keep your Dear Teachers Happy

It is also helpful to have some type of signial to quiet your classroom to get them to focus.  I personally use the whole brain teaching technique of "Class=yes"or "Hands & eyes".   For class yes, I say "class" and they respond "yes".  However I say "Class" they way "yes"  (example: "classity-class" is "yessity-yes").   When I need their eyes on me during a visual lesson I will say "Hands and Eyes"... this commands reminds them they will need to see with their eyes and get ready to follow my new directions or get ready to learn something new that they will be teaching to their partners in a couple of minutes.

I also use the same points game she uses with her classroom... my categories are "cool" and "not cool".   In this game it is me agains the class... if they work as a team to follow directions they win and we will get some type of activity, if I win, we will spend extra time reviewing the rules or a skill we are working on.

Jessie Fishel

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Classroom setting

I am a visual thinker, so I think a logical place to start would be "what does my classroom look like?".  

I believe it helps to know your teaching style before you pick a classroom layout.
For instance, if a teacher prefers to lecture their students and have them take many notes, it helps if you have your students desks all facing the whiteboard.  If you like your students to work in pairs, then it is best to pair up the desks.  If you like your students work in small groups, then group up your desks.   Different groupings work best with different subjects/age levels.
I prefer my students to work in groups, so I have a natural preference for either tables in the room or grouping the desks by groups of four.    I spend most my time working with students accomplishing projects, independent work, small mini lessons, or small group work.   I find it best if I have an open area (ex. a rug) around the whiteboard/smartboard.    During the instructional period I use daily 5 and CAFÉ (similar to writers workshop/readers workshop).  My students are free to find any spot they choose around the classroom to complete their independent work.
Some examples the type of classroom I envision are:

I have a fondness for blue/green/brown combinations.  The colors are bright, but soothing.  I love how this teachers room just "pops".  She used butcher paper around the white board to create a blue focus wall. 

This color theme tends to be easy to find in poka dot patterns as well. 

Because I like to work with small groups of students at times, I find it extremely helpful to have a teacher table (kidney shaped prefered).  Some teachers use chairs, this teacher used footstools (extra storage is a plus!).

It is extremely important to be organized as a teacher.  Having a well organized small group area is more important than having a teacher's desk.   Notice how the wall paper matches?  using the same colors through out the classroom helps the room flow together.  Also, when permitted, add either natural lighting, or soft lamp lighting to your classroom.  As a veteran teacher, I can attest that using different types of light and using your building's light fixtures less, while create a more relaxed mood.  ADHD students especially while notice the biggest difference.  I had a pretty intense Special ed case load of students a few years back, I had enough naturally lighting in my classroom to teach the entire semester with one set of lights off or no lights at all and had great results with them becoming calmer in my room compared to their other classroom.

How will I know when I have found my dream classrom?  When I have been in the classroom long enough to invest in a couch (or a couple couches) in its reading area.  A large part of the Daily 5 program has students independently reading 20 minutes a day, reading with partners (20 minutes a day), listening to reading 20 minutes a day (indepently is best you have the money to infest in mp3 players or Ipods), and writing independently 20 minutes aday.   With all that indepdent work, it's important to have comfortable areas to sit.  Get pillows, throws, beanbags, folding lawn chairs, reading tents, etc.   Honestly, would you pick a student desk to spend hours reading?  Neither would most students.

Another inviting reading area.   Notice how the books are in leveled containers or grouped by interests?   This is important in your classroom set up.  Students have difficulty finding books themselves, they need to be taught how to figure out which books are too easy or too hard, or they might need help finding a topic to get excited about.

I think its important to realize that an awesome reading corner is for every elementary classroom.  It's important in kindergarten just as much as it's important in 5th grade.

Students will only care about something in your classroom if you make it a priority.   If your desk are in perfect rows in the room facing the board, and you mostly lecture and take notes, then they will care mostly about pretending to listen and pretending to take notes.   If you show your students daily that you are excited about reading and writing (both at school and at home) then they are more likely to get excited about it... or at least go with the flow of your mojo because they want to be more like you. 

Jessie Fishel


What makes this blog different than my classroom's webpage (shutterfly), my educational portfolio (weebly), or my teacher's blog "Swinging From One Great Idea to the Next"?   This blogs purpous is simply a place to share my dream of what I want my classroom to be. 

Currently i'm between teaching placements.  I have 8 years of teaching experience, a BA in Elementary Ed, MA in Curriculum & Instruction, endorsements in ESOL & adaptive special education.   The school year is just around the corner and at the moment I don't have a place to call my own.  As the school year approaches I often find myself daydreaming... If I only had my own classroom, what would it be like?  If I had unlimited resources, could hand pick my own curriculums / programs, had an unlimited budget, and had the time to pull it all together, what would that place be like?  

Without a classroom to take photo's of, i'll instead substitute photo and weblinks to other blogs, websites, etc from others whom have had the opportunity to make their dreams happen.  

So while I continue my quest to land a classroom position, feel free to curl up next to your computer in your comfy pj's sipping a warm drink, and feel free to daydream along with me.

Jessie Fishel