Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Classroom Management

Scenario:  You have an alto in your chorus class who talks too much and doesn't stop.
Here are a couple of ideas on how to handle it:
Overall most important factor:  Mutual respect that starts with you.  You are the adult.  If they sense you don't respect them or that you simply expect respect because you are an adult, you will lose them.  We have to be the leaders in the mututal respect circle.  It is KEY to our success as classroom managers.  If we don't model respect for the students, then none of the solutions I've written below will help.
1)  When they are talking, simply stand in front of them and wait.  Watch the talkers.  ...Careful not to use the evil eye...Just watch and wait.  Don't complain.  Don't call their names.  Don't humiliate or embarrass....simply watch.  Usually, other students will "shush" them as you wait.  The positive peer pressure is helpful.
2)  As you watch them, you should be documenting in your head exactly what is occurring.  Who is talking?  Where are the real issues?  When class is over, write down exactly what you saw.  "Jenny was turned around in her seat talking to Elizabeth while I was teaching.  When I stopped to wait for her to stop talking, it took 30 seconds"...for example.  Unemotional documenting...Just the facts.  Avoid things like "She is disrespectful and rude."  Be specific.
3)  Once you've gathered two or three specific non-emotional descriptions, pull Jenny aside.  When you pull her aside, do not make it a big deal about the fact that you are going to talk to Jenny by saying in front of the whole class "Jenny, I need to see you after class".  This will not set you up for success.  Instead, it will pit you against Jenny AND the class as a whole.  You should discreetly ask her to stay after.  Then, read the unemotional, clear descriptions to her.  "Jenny, these are some behaviors I've observed from you...."  Tell her it's not ok and that we need to find a solution together.  Tell her that her class participation grade has been lowered, and tell her that you are hopeful to be able to solve the issue with her so that you don't have to contact her parents, so it is important that we find the right solution.  "Would you like me to move your seat?", for example?  Get her invested in the solution.  Then, take the action you've decided upon.
4)  If the behavior continues, follow through by contacting the parents.  Again, be unemotionally specific when you speak to the parents. 
Parents are key.  So many teachers skip this step and jump to administrators.  This is a bad idea.  We must establish relationships first with the student and then with the parent.
Overall, what I've described above is a negative approach, but it is sometimes necessary.  More often, I use positive, public recognition in my classroom. For example, when I see a child sitting up straight, listening to every word, I throw a Starburst at the child and thank him publicly for his great posture or his attention.  Everyone around him jumps to attention.  
Establishing good, positive relationships with your students makes your classroom a much better place for learning.
These are just a few ideas.  Over the last year, I have written many more ideas on my blog and recorded classroom management videos on my YouTube Channel.  In them, I've tried to relay my philosophies to help other teachers who struggle with classroom management.
Also, my YouTube Channel with Sight Singing tips and Classroom Management ideas:
It takes a while to find our own personal classroom management style, but you can absolutely do it!   Be patient and don't beat yourself up when you don't get it right!  Just grow from it and move forward!
Dale Duncan
Find my step by step Sight Singing lessons for choirs with direct links to actual teaching examples and teaching tips:
• • Check out my blog!

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