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How would you describe your classroom management structure?

I am a high school senior looking to perfect my pathway for the future. I am accepted into Cedarville University in southern Ohio, and I plan to to major in Early Childhood Education. After college, I plan to become a teacher for a grade level between kindergarten and 5th grade. #elementary-education #teacher #cedarville #highschool-senior #college #teaching #classroom

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Joan’s Answer

Hi Angie,
I’ve read some responses about how other teachers develop their class tones and guidelines for their students to follow. Every teacher grows their discipline guidelines with experience. I would say my style is firm, consistent and fair. I try to enforce my class rules as “rules to live by,” not only in the classroom, but for life.

I’m going to take a different perspective because every new teacher struggles with discipline. With that said, I’ll share a list of some pitfalls a new teacher may face in the first few years of teaching. After 28 years in the classroom, I’ve made lots of mistakes, but you learn from them.

Things NOT to do related to discipline:
1. You are not your student’s friend. Don’t make this mistake.
2. If you recognize that a student is going to have discipline issues at the beginning of the year, be proactive. Contact parents early and document incidents so the parent knows you understand the issue and how to address it.
3. Don’t ever make a threat you are nervous to follow through with.Mean what you say. For example... if you tell a student the next time they talk during instruction you will send them to the principals office, if you don’t follow through, the kids will think they can get away with bad behaviors that have no consequences. (To many chances)
4. Always give a child a choice. For example they are not working productively in class. My choice for the student would be, you can stay here and be productive or you can come and spend time with me on the assignment after school. The choice should always be productive.
5. Never “pick up the rope.” Ask any teacher, they know this phrase. What it means is sometimes kids get snarky, roll their eyes, or talk under their breath. Ignore these behaviors. The student is trying to get you to argue with them. That is a losing battle for both of you.
6. Students who call out can’t be allowed to do this in your class. For these kids, I request that when they want to ask a lot of questions they have to write them down first.
7. Bullying - Unacceptable! Report bullying to your administration following the school protocols. If it’s in your classroom make sure you have witnessed the behavior. If not it’s one child’s word over another. All other bullying issues/concerns or reporting incidents that don’t happen in your room to be addressed by admin.
8. Not necessarily discipline really, but please don’t offer extra credit. It teaches students that they don’t have to do the original task, they can just do some work at the end of the nine weeks and slide through, no.
9. When students make poor decisions ask them why they made that decision. Talk it through. Most students are able to identify what they did wrong and why it was wrong. (This is for students who usually don’t have behavior issues.)
10. Never make fun of a student. Nobody likes that, it doesn’t build a connection with you, and some kids don’t understand sarcasm.
11. When you talk with a student about behavior issues and consequences it should be private. If the behaviors happen in class, redirect them and tell them to see you after class or a mutually agreed upon time. Always contact the parent after you’ve had this conversation. You need to give the actual story to the parent. Kids have a tendency to craft a story that paints them as the good guy.
12. Don’t create a thousand rules, you don’t need them. For example, I have two or three rules for the kids to follow...be respectful to each other and the teacher and come ready to learn. The first rule encompasses many situations.
13. Don’t play favorites. Certainly you will have a better connection with some kids more than others, but you can’t show preference, even though you might want to.

I hope this helps you develop your own rules to match you teaching style and personality.

Good luck in your coming teaching years. I am retiring at the end of this year!!!

Mrs. Joan Coughey
Grade 6
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Sendil’s Answer

Effective classroom management requires awareness, patience, good timing, boundaries, and instinct. There's nothing easy about shepherding a large group of easily distractible young people with different skills and temperaments along a meaningful learning journey.
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Patricia R’s Answer

Hi, Angie,
Having been a teacher for nearly half-a-century (Yikes! I’m old!), I can tell you that classroom management is one of a teacher’s most challenging and frustrating responsibilities. There are dozens of books that will give you advice – some of it helpful, and some of it impractical.

One of the best, IMHO, is by Harry K. Wong and Rosemary T. Wong. “The First Day of School” was, I believe, their first book on the subject. Although the first edition was released in 1998, there have been revisions and updates periodically since then, as well as several other books.

One of their best and most favored approaches is to help teachers from their very first day. While finding your own style is what you will develop as you gain classroom experience, what about all the days before that magical day?

In my experiences, I tended to start on the firm (or even strict) side, and I worked very hard to be fair in all regards. It was always easier to loosen up later when my students got to know me and what kind of behavior I expected from them. It’s a lot harder than to start out easy and “playful” and then try to rein them in when you feel as if you’re losing control.

Also, I made it clear to my students – whether they were second graders or college students – that I was the adult, and I was in charge. Sounds tough, I know, but I wasn’t a dictator, even though my classroom was not a democracy. We frequently made decisions together about something we were planning, and, when appropriate, they made decisions on their own – even second graders.

Of course, my university students made more decisions than the younger ones, and their level of accountability was higher, but I also helped them to be as successful as possible.

I tried the suggestions about setting up a chart or wall poster of the classroom rules developed on the first days of school. After a few days, though, I would get bogged down with too much focus on the rules than the processes of learning. My basic approach was 1) Be nice to each other (I spent many teachable moments helping them to understand what was “nice” and what was not); 2) Show respect to everyone (each other, teachers, parents, janitors, secretaries, etc.) Again, deepening their understanding of respect as the incidents and year progressed.

Since one of a teacher’s favorite things is to talk, and to ask a teacher to talk about her own style of doing this or that, puts you in danger of getting too much advice, I’ll stop here.
Thank you for asking for my input; I’d be curious to know what you think some good strategies are for strong management skills?
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Madison’s Answer

There is a lot of trial and error in finding the perfect behavior management plan. There are lots of factors to keep in mind, and each student in your class could need a completely different set of rules and boundaries. Spend the first week or two setting preliminary rules and boundaries for everyone. As you progress in the school year, you may find that some students need a little more structure, and then you plan accordingly with them. As you grow in teaching, it will get easier, but I know a lot of first time teachers struggle a lot with managing their classrooms. Don't get discouraged! It's a difficult thing to master, and with time you will grow and figure it out.
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