Friday, February 24, 2017

Behavior and Classroom Management Forms for Teachers

I bet most teachers will agree that behavior and classroom management is 
topic these days. 

Stop and think about it...

How many different ways have you tried to stop students from disrupting others, or even disrupting themselves? You have Tom who's drumming on his desk, Susie who's gazing out the window and humming her favorite Lady Gaga song, Ben who's fiddling around with his book bag, zipping and unzipping every single pocket.  Joe who's texting his friend who sits right next to him.  And the list goes on and on and on...

How many times have you arranged and rearranged seating charts to separate the talkers or those who don't get along?  You've moved your desks or table arrangements so much that the only next move would be to hang the desks from the ceiling!

How often do you think about classroom management and find it a very frustrating topic? 

I can bet that thinking about classroom management is constantly on a teacher's mind. You dream of a perfect class atmosphere with all students on their best behavior. They're sitting up straight, with their hands folded on their desks, looking at you, smiling and ready to learn.

Then reality smacks you. Your dream deflates and you are back to square one. Behavior management is a teacher's enigma!

Driving to school, you think about contacting the social worker about a student who's very disruptive. On your lunch break, you talk with teachers who have tried different ways of discipling students. The thoughts are always the same. Contacting parents, meetings with the school support staff. The list goes on and on and on. 

Managing classroom behavior actually isn't a new topic. it's been around since the days of the one room school house. One room school houses? Did teachers have discipline problems WAY BACK THEN? 

My great aunt was a teacher in Pennsylvania, in a little one room school house. She taught kids ages 5 - 14. Sounds like a nightmare, right? Think about it. How did she provide individualized lesson plans for that wide range of ages? How did she manage the paper work, the lesson planning? HOW DID SHE MANAGE THE BEHAVIOR OF ALL HER STUDENTS?

Well the stories passed down generation to generation went something like this.

In those days, the school was built by neighbors, townspeople and people with certain skills.

People donated materials, worked without pay and had a great sense of pride when the school was finished. There was no building committee, no governing body to dictate how high the walls should be, no one to say how long the school day should be. That was determined by the local people.  Some times kids were pulled out of school to help their parents plant crops and harvest them. It was necessary for family survival...

What did kids do to disrupt the class back in the one room school house days? Hardly anything. Teachers were respected and if parents found out their children were being disrespectful or were disrupting and interrupting the teachers, there were consequences, set down by the parents. God forbid my great aunt had to tell a farmer that his kid was being bad in class! Any kid who misbehaved paid the consequences at home.

 So what happens these days?

Teachers plan their lessons hoping they'll get through them with no interruptions. They pray that students will pay attention and learn what's being taught. They cover their bulletin boards with good citizenship posters, classroom rules and consequences and good feeling quotes as reminders, and hope it will reinforce good behavior. 

I'm not saying that displaying posters and good feeling quotes is wrong. Not at all. They are good reminders for students. In the good old days, there were shortages of paper, no computers, no printers and the teachers used what they had. They told the kids what was expected of them and laid down the rules at the beginning of the school year knowing parents backed them up. 

Is that reality? Certainly not. Our students aren't perfect. They're individuals who come from different backgrounds, different family environments and have different life experiences.  Some reach out for attention at home and school in negative ways because that's the only way they know. I f you throw a tantrum at home, you get attention. If you act out and misbehave, you get attention. So why not misbehave in school? Yes, it's negative attention, but it DOES get attention. 

How many times have I walked passed a teacher's room and heard a student being reprimanded in front of others? How many times have I heard a teacher, beyond frustration, yelling and reprimanding an entire class when it was only one or two who caused the disruption? Too many times. 

I'll never forget the day when I entered my first period, 11th grade history class, a couple of minutes late. The teacher lashed out at me verbally and berated my tardiness in front of the entire class. Being a very quiet girl, at that time in my life, I was mortified. I had a disagreement with my mother before I left for school, so with that heaviness on my shoulders, I had to listen to an angry teacher make things even worse. 

I ran out of the class in tears and went to my guidance counselor's office, where I sought solace. The saddest part of my experience is that I've never forgotten it. I can still see the teacher's face, hear his angry words and feel the embarrassment of being reprimanded in front of my peers.

At that point, I had already decided to pursue a teaching career, so that one incident changed the way I viewed class behavior and class management. NEVER would I embarrass a student in front of his or her peers. NEVER.

Okay, so you're probably wondering what I do, when a student disrupts others or interrupts a lesson. 

Read my skit below to see what happens in my class when there's a disruption.

I introduced a lesson and began explaining how to begin the preparation.  I looked up and saw Joe bothering friends who sit at his table. He poked Bob's arm and spun around in his chair and began bothering Mary. 

I nonchalantly and very calmly walked to the table, stopping to commend Mary for the effort she was demonstrating.  I turned around and without saying a word, motioned to Joe to follow me. He looked puzzled,  got up and followed me out the door, into the hall. I close the door. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed that all eyes are on us. A hush falls over the room.

Once we're out in the hall, the conversation goes something like this.

Me:  Hi Joe. How are you doing today?
Joe: Uh, good. (He looks puzzled and looks down at his feet. I KNOW he was expecting me to raise my voice)
Me: You're good? I noticed you were doing something you shouldn't have been doing. 
Joe: I was?

Me: Yes you were. Can you describe what you were doing?
Joe: Uh. (Looks down at his feet) I was talking.
Me: Right. You were talking among other things. What happens when kids talk when I'm giving directions about a lesson?
Joe: (He pauses and looks up at me) They don't hear what you said?
Me: That's right. What will happen if they don't hear the directions? 
Joe: They won't know what to do?

Me: Right again. Let me ask you something. 
Joe: Okay. 
Me: Do you like being in my class? (He looks up at me with a puzzled look)
Joe: Yeah. 
Me: Would you like to stay in my class?
Joe: Oh yeah I would.
Me:  Well, if you continue disrupting others I might have to call your parents and discuss it with them. Or I might ask that you be moved to another class.

Joe: What???? Oh pleeeease don't call my parents. Please!  I don't want to be moved to another class. (I had one student get on his knees and actually plead with me not to call his parents. He's a very theatrical kid.)
Me: Well, if you don't want me to call your parents, I guess I'll have to call Mr. _______(principal's name) A look comes over his face and once again he makes his plea for me not to contact the principal.

Me: How do you think YOU can fix this problem?
Joe: By not talking and interrupting?
Me: Sounds good to me. Listen, we're not going to mention this conversation to anyone, ok? You walk back in the room, sit down get ready to listen. I'll walk in and explain the directions, and continue with the lesson. Deal?
Joe:  (Huge smile) Deal.
Me:  This is the last time I'll have to talk with you in the hall, right? And you won't say anything about it when we go back in class, right?
Joe:  Right. 
Me: That's good because if it happens again, I will call your parents and speak with the principal or dean about it. Is that understood?
Joe: Yes. 

I extend my hand and we shake on it. 

As we walk back in the room, every single student is looking at me and looking at Joe. 

Were they expecting me to say something to them? Of course. They were expecting me to storm in the room and reprimand the entire class.

Were they wondering what happened in the hall? Of course. 

Did I say anything? Absolutely not. 

Did Joe tell them what I said to him in the hall? Maybe... 

Does this work with every student? For me, it works 90% of the time. Naturally, there are always exceptions.

What's the best part of my method of classroom management?

 Word gets around.           Kids talk.           They Tweet.  

They know I won't yell at them in front of their peers, therefore they respect me. 

Respect and fairness are keys to successful behavior management. 

Again, it won't work with every student, but trust me, it's worth a try.  

Think about it. Your blood pressure won't soar,  you won't feel your face flush. You won't have to scream, yell .. You'll feel that YOU have control....

That said... 

You might want to check out my "Behavior and Classroom Management Forms for Teachers" resource that contains MANY forms for managing those who need guidance and assistance. Some forms are for school use only, some are for students and some help keep track of parent communication. 

I've also included award types of cards that can be handed to those who make good strides as well as larger types of cards that can be used as bulletin board toppers. 

Check out the preview of the packet, to learn more. 

photo of Behavior and Classroom Management Forms for Teachers, PDF, behavior management, Ruth S.,

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