What is that one thing most discussed by staff during break times? Challenging behavior.
It doesn’t matter how many years you have been teaching, our students always find new ways to make us bend… but please don’t break. This blog will offer ideas that might be able to help you navigate those tricky situations students present to us.
Having good classroom management is a must if you want to effectively teach. It does not matter how good of a teacher you are, or how much you know about the content if you have poor classroom management.
I am constantly seeking ways to get better as a teacher. Thanks to Facebook groups, last year I incorporated the Conflict Wall and a tattle book. This was a game changer for me. Throughout my years, I have learned that routine and structure really help to streamline most of my management challenges. Everything I do regarding classroom management aims to put more accountability back on the students. At the end of the day, we are promoting life long (physical) learning and if we want our students to be successful adults, then we need to teach them to be accountable for their actions right now.
Here are my top Classroom Management Ideas:
1) Conflict Corner / Wall & Tattle Book
I’ll never forget reading about this on Facebook and putting the idea into action. Complete game changer for me. The reasons (to me) why we try to implement effective classroom management strategies are twofold:
Give us more time to do what we do best – which is actually teach
Empower students to take responsibility for their own actions and actually solve problems for themselves. If you can do this second one, the first one will take care of itself.
I don’t know about you, but how many times in a lesson, day, week do students come up to you with, “I tagged him, but he didn’t go down,” or “I saw Johnny cheat and not go around the cone” or two students come up in your face arguing about something that you have to try and resolve whilst trying to teach 25 other students. The list could go on and on and become a book.
Now, when students come up to me, which is becoming less and less since I introduced these strategies, I either send them to the tattle book if they are by themselves or I send them to the Conflict Wall if there is a problem with 2 or more students.
To clarify the tattle book is a book where students go to if they want to tell on someone about something. I always say to the kids to put it in the book, and I will read it after class and if any of the tattles need addressing, I will follow up.
With the Conflict Wall, if two students have an issue, I just point to the wall. Students know to go there, and they must follow the simple, 5 step plan before re-entering back into class.
I have been so amazed at how these two systems work, how much more time I have to teach, how less students want to tattle and how much more students are learning about conflict resolution. I’d highly recommend trying one or both of these ideas if you haven’t already.
2) Visual Representation of Routine / Expectations
If you want to set yourself up for success, you need to have an understanding that repetition teaches. It doesn’t matter how old you are, having a routine and structure leads the way for engagement and learning growth. If you are like me and teach Kindergarten to Grade 6, then having a consistent routine and structure is essential and having a visual representation that goes with that is just as important, especially for the Kindy to Grade 3 students I find. My students know when they enter our gym, that:
1) We sit
2) We listen
3) We respect… and if they can do all these things and let me do the roll / give a brief explanation this helps us do the most important thing, which is…
4) Get Active
I don’t even need to say anything anymore and if students need redirection, I just point at the picture of the expectation they are breaking.
3) Rewarding Good Behavior – PE Class of the Fortnite
How do you reward positive student behavior and consequently, how do you establish effective consequences for negative student behavior?
For me, I use the traffic light system and clothes pegs.
I have a bucket filled with clothes pegs and the color of each clothes peg means something. If you do something that is good (listen, show good sportsmanship, etc) then you get a white clothes peg. If you do something good again, you get a blue clothes peg, and if you do something good again, it’s green. At the end of the lesson, I count how many students are on green clothes pegs in each class and over a two-week period I add up those numbers from each class. The class who has accumulated the most green pegs becomes our PE class of the Fortnite. I present them with a trophy the class keep for two weeks. The class that has won the trophy the most over the course of the year becomes the PE class of the year and they get a pizza party/free games lesson in the last lesson of the year. It’s something I have built into the culture of our school and has worked really well.
I know you’re asking… what about the students making poor choices? Well, the clothes pegs go the other way too.
If a student makes a poor choice (does not listen, teases, etc), they get a yellow clothes peg. If the behavior continues, they get an orange one, and if it becomes a 3rd time, they get a red peg. I think of it as 3 strikes and you’re out, but what happens when you get out?
I have a clipboard with restorative questions on it they must fill out and sign. If they act out two lessons in a row, then parents must also sign it. Restorative questions on the paper are:
1. What happened during PE class that led to [specific behavior]?"
2. How do you think your actions affected others in the class?
3. What were you thinking and feeling at the time?
4. What could you have done differently to avoid the situation or handle it in a more positive way?
5. How can you make amends or repair the relationship with your classmates or the PE teacher?
4) The Next Step
Our school is lucky (as am I) that we have Behaviour Zones. Each classroom in the school, my gym included has these up on the wall and it helps students (and teachers) understand what happens if a student makes a poor choice. It also classifies behaviours into categories based on minor vs major. It is an awesome guide to follow and perhaps some of the guidelines below can help you.
I do believe actions have consequences. If we don’t give consequences to actions, then what are we setting kids up for when they leave our school walls? If I speed, I get a ticket. If I litter, I get a fine. That’s just life and we need to prepare students for that. Hopefully you find these behaviour zones useful. Maybe it’s something you could even implement at your school if you are looking for something.
As I mentioned, I always seek ways to improve and take advantage of any kind of system that I can implement. Every school is different and some of what I mentioned above may not suit your school, but I always find I can take any idea and tweak it to suit my environment.
Everything I have mentioned are ideas I have implemented within the past two years, and they work. If you have read this far, hopefully you have found something above that stands out. Even if it is one thing, it could change your teaching, and help your students learn how to take responsibility for their actions.
If there are any other ways I can support or you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out.
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