Monday, September 20, 2010

Behave Yourself!

Your classroom is a unique space that you create and reinvent each year to best serve your students. Throughout my years of school as both a student and teacher, I have seen many different types of organization and systems of management. The main thing I have learned from seeing all these spaces is that the style that works best in each classroom is as unique as the teacher in charge. You might walk into one classroom that looks to be in a complete state of chaos while another room contains students quietly learning in their seats in organized rows. Your first impression might not necessarily be correct about which one is a better learning environment, since it is very dependent on the teaching and learning styles in each group. Through your years of teaching, you have probably figured out what works best for you. If you are still new to teaching, you may be experiencing some behavior issues right now that you can solve by tweaking the way your classroom is managed. It’s never too late to change the way you do things to help your students learn more effectively.

The way you manage your classroom is the foundation of the success of your teaching each year. Without a strong foundation, you can present wonderful lessons and activities, but you probably won’t get the results you are hoping for. How is your perfectly planned activity going to work when you have the distractions of student misbehavior going on all around you? How will your students learn when nobody was able to hear the instructions? Why are your students doing so poorly on their tests when you went over all the information in class?

As an incoming teacher, I thought that establishing control and a classroom routine were the most intimidating part of my new job. It can be very overwhelming, and it is very important that you find support to help you succeed. Where can you find this kind of support? You might be lucky enough to have another teacher in your own school who can be a mentor as you find the best way to manage your classroom. If you haven’t been able to find this kind of support in your school, try finding a group of educators online where you can connect. Many teachers have created their own support groups, or PLNs (Personal Learning Network) on Twitter to help them with problems and supply them with ideas and links from all over the world. There are other groups on sites like Facebook that can help you connect and join in conversations with other educators, too. Try The Gateway’s Facebook page and Twitter page to start!

When I first started teaching, my cooperating teacher gave me the book, “The First Days of School” by Harry and Rosemary Wong. The book helped me a lot with the initial setup of my classroom and with setting the groundwork for rules and behavior in the classroom. Technology has changed (a little) since then, so if you don’t have a copy of the book, you can get the e-book.

If you are having behavior problems in your class, or if you want to head them off now before they start, check out some of these tools on the Gateway. If you search classroom management on the homepage, you can refine your search by clicking on keywords like student behavior or behavior problems to find some resources that will work in your class. We have some useful tools catalogued on The Gateway from Dr. Mac’s Behavior Management Site. The Behavior Management Checklist and Ways to Catch Kids Being Good would both be helpful to new teachers or teachers who need a little help perfecting their behavior management plans in their classrooms.

There are all different kinds of weekly chats on Twitter to support educators. This week’s new teacher chat focused on classroom rules and how to best implement them. You can join in the chat or search for ideas from it with the Twitter hashtag #ntchat. There were some really neat ideas for implementing and maintaining rules in the classroom. The main theme seemed to be that the most effective rules are created with the students, not just for them. Students will be much more likely to follow rules they understand and helped create. Most members of the chat seemed to think that when you are creating rules, less is more. Some people recommended no more than 5 rules, some suggested 3, and a couple of people liked the idea of one simple classroom rule: “respect.” One fourth grade teacher and her class created this Animoto show of their class rules and expectations. You can read a full transcript of this week’s new teacher chat and check out all the links about classroom rules here.

~Peggy's Corner - 9/17/2010~


  1. Thank you so much for sharing my class' Animoto. This was entirely student created and something that I am very proud of. It was a wonderful way for them to take control of the room and let their voices be heard. Unfortunately, this amazing group of kids have been split (it was a 4/5 class) and in 3 weeks our adventure is over. This will serve as a reminder though of what we could have become.

  2. Really great tips for the beginning of the school year and the first year as a new teacher. Would you be willing to let us re-post this post in the October issue of Project PLN magazine? @projectpln We would of course link back to you.

  3. Mrs Ripp: Your class' Animoto was such a great example of allowing the kids to create a meaningful classroom environment. Thanks for sharing it! I'm sorry to hear that your combo class is being split up. I really like multi-grade classes, and I think there are so many benefits for both the older and younger students in the class.

    Mrs. Tenkely: We would love to have you re-post the post. Thank you! Do you need me to send it to you in another format?


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