Memes make me laugh, and I recently found one that produced a deep chuckle as well as some deep thoughts about how I effectively managed behavior in my classroom
Some memes are funnier than others like the one of a sassy six-year-old pointing to a t-shirt that reads, “Dear Teacher, I talk to everyone so moving my seat won’t help.” This made me think about classroom management and how I handled “those” students as well as other strategies to keep the peace [of mind] inside the four walls that I called home for more than 15 years. I know, I know. Children are supposed to be seen and not heard. All eager learners should sit in their seats with their hands neatly folded on their desk waiting for the next set of instructions on mastering the skills needed to succeed. Wait! What?! I hope that is not a practice you hold near and dear to your heart because if you haven’t noticed, students talk. As educators and guides, we can learn how to channel that conversation and discussion to manage behavior in a constructive way.
Imagine meaningful discussions among students, rather than talkers blurting out, where the teacher facilitates and guides individuals and the class to deeper insight through critical thinking questions. Pure bliss that includes the teacher having the skills to guide the class to deeper insight and students not blurting out can be taught and encouraged.
- First, determine key questions on various Bloom’s Levels that will engage students in discussions and write these on index cards or slides to project onto the white board. Recall and understand are good places to begin; however, up your questioning game by creating higher level thinking questions.
- Next, teach students how to respond to these questions in a meaningful way. Often, I would ask students to write their support and justification on their devices in some way during individual quiet time response.
- Finally, train them to listen while others are responding to the questions in small group or large group discussion. One way I did this was to ask students to circle words or phrases that other students shared verbally that they had already written down. This gave them time to focus on their thoughts without interrupting others and helped reinforce key points. As we concluded this activity, I would review with asking students to raise their hands if they also had responses with the certain key words. Don’t forget that while this is occurring, the student who talks to everyone is probably wanting to have a conversation over the questions you are asking them to consider. Occupy the entire room by moving around frequently, visually make eye contact or as I call it “desk contact” with each student and show attentiveness to the lesson at hand. (Desk contact is simply placing your hand on a desk or paper acknowledging the work and effort the student is making while reminding them you are there.)
Beautiful Beginnings & Effective Endings
Take stock of the first few weeks of school so far. Are you where you want to be regarding positive classroom management─ especially with those social students? Ask yourself the following questions:
- What have you allowed?
- What have you reinforced?
- What have you stopped?
- What needs to change over the next few weeks?
It’s Never Too Late
The focus of classroom management is to teach students to manage their own behavior, so they will become productive citizens and manage appropriate behaviors into adulthood. As George Eliot said, “It’s never too late to be what you might have been.” Or in our case, it’s never too late to do what you should have done to understand the characteristics of students and channel that energy in a positive manner!