I thought I had classroom management all figured out figured out until 2017. I’ve taught all kinds of students and by this time I’d been teaching for seventeen years.
Like most urban school districts our school district had schools in certain areas of the city that had been neglected and were facing state take over. In order to get the school out of Improvement Required status teachers were offered a stipend to leave their current school.
I went to the meeting at the school board office to learn more about the schools that were looking for teachers like me. While I was there I ran into a principal that I hadn’t seen in twenty years. To make a long story short I left my school to teach 5th grade math at one of the struggling elementary schools in my school district.
I’ve always felt like there’s a solution to every problem so when one of my classes were out of control I knew there had to be solution for me!
It seems to me as if every class that’s out of control has some of the same characteristics.
- Below level learners
- Lack of success
- Students aren’t interested in school
- Rewards only work for a short period of time
Trust me this class was no different. The students in this class fought constantly, yelled out, and roamed the classroom whenever they felt like walking around. It was something that I had never seen before!
By October I had run out of tricks, so I turned to the Internet to find resources to get this class under control so I could teach. While surfing the Internet I found the book, From Discipline to Culturally Responsive Engagement.
This book was a game changer for me, because the author had a different perspective on discipline. She encouraged teachers to increase engagement by incorporating culturally responsive activities.
While I was reading the book I was thinking this is great in theory, but does it really work in reality?
What does student engagement look like in the classroom?
Student engagement looks different in every classroom, because it’s based on what information or activities grasps the students’ attention.
Although student engagement may different in classrooms a teacher’s positive demeanor has the the most influence on a student’s emotional engagement
Including Student Engagement in Your Classroom Management Plan
Teacher preparation programs tend to present classroom management as a rules, consequences and rewards. This superficial presentation of classroom management causes many new teachers to struggle with classroom management well beyond their first year of teaching.
Classroom management is more than just rules. Your lessons should be planned so that off task behavior is minimized. For example, I’m co-teaching with my mentee who’s a third year teacher. Yesterday, she created workstations for students to review for their Mock STAAR Testing.
When I realized how she had the students grouped I could see why she always needed another person to help with her stations. Homogeneously ability grouped students always need activities that are engaging, so that off task behavior is minimized.
Students that struggle academically will not persevere in activities that they don’t connect with and feel like the content is above their heads. Off task behavior for one group of students then turns into a classroom management problem for the teacher.
If you have students that are a behavior concern, then student engagement should be top priority. Because an engaged classroom is easier to manage. I’m not talking about edutainment either! If you don’t know what edutainment is a good example is the Ron Clark Academy.
Classroom management is more than just rules, consequences and rewards. It also requires you to use your lesson activities as way to keep students on task, which will ultimately lead to a well-managed classroom.