Monday, November 30, 2015

Classroom Management Tip #3 : Being Consistent and Fair

Last week, I talked to you about how to create structure and routine to properly manage your classroom.  This week, I want to look at being consistent and fair.

Now being consistent is obviously easier said than done. But it's so important. It means that you have to work hard and be organized ahead of time to ensure that you can be ready and deliver.

Consistency will win you the race in the long run.

If you're implementing a system where students can simply go to the washroom during work time as long as they write their name on the board, but then Johnny simply goes whenever he wants and you're not consistently making sure he's doing it right, then others will start following Johnny's example because it's easier.

If you want students to walk in the hallways quietly and you've practice this but there's that one time that you're late for an assembly and you simply allow them to walk while talking to the gym, then students will think it's not that important to you and start talking a lot more in the hallways. You're back at square one and gotta start all over again.

If you always check students homework in the morning and expect them to have their homework out and ready for you by 9am, but you're always late doing it, then you can't expect students to actually have their homework out for you. They've learned they don't need to!

You're not consistent, and that brings you right back to square one.  And we don't want to go back to square one! You've spent a lot of time practicing these routines with your students, so make sure you keep on being consistent throughout the year. Use an alarm system if you need to (seriously, I used alarms on my phone ALL the time for stuff like this! It worked beautifully!)

And be fair.  Fair doesn't mean equal, but remember, to students eyes, it's all about perception. If Nick feels like you're always getting mad at him for not having his homework out at 9am but yet, Alex does it and you don't even bat an eye, you're going to have issues on your hands with Nick.

Be consistent, be fair and it'll be great!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Classroom Management Tip #2 : Implementing Structure & Routine

Last week, I talked about how important it is to build relationships with your students for proper classroom management. You can read more about it here.

This week, I want to talk about implementing structure and routine in your day.

Think about it for a second. Imagine your students walking into your classroom. Johnny walks over to Alex, Nicky and Ron and starts chit chatting about their hockey game last night. Jennifer, Jill and Joanne start moaning about the latest TV show. Roxy starts reading her book. You want to begin your day, but you must first wait for them to be quietly in their seats. So you make a noise to get their attention. Joanne notices but she's too enthralled into what Jill is saying to shush the rest of her group. You make another noise and Joanne starts going back to her seat, but all while she's still talking. Johnny's group starts to dissipate as well but they're having issues stopping their conversation right at that point. Roxy is still blissfully reading. Finally, you get them at their seats and quiet but now you have to get Roxy's attention, since she had been in the zone and not paying attention to anything. By the time you get to start your lesson, 3 minutes has gone by (and that's quick!)

3 minutes x 3 times a day x 5 days a week = 30 minutes a week wasted on waiting for students.

Not only is this precious classtime wasted, but it's also showing students that they can continue chatting and/or reading for those 3 minutes before they really have to listen to you. Not a good combination.

So how can we change this?

By doing the same thing all the time. This is the power of structure and routine.

Now picture this : The bell rings and Johnny walks in your classroom. He says hi to Alex and might make a comment about the hockey game last night but walks over to his desk and immediately starts working. Roxy never even opens her book and Joanne, Jill and Jennifer talk in the hallway and when they enter your classroom, they promise to keep the conversation going at recess. Within a minute, everyone is at work. Because they know what to do and they know what's expected of them.

Now this isn't as easy as simply giving them work to do and then thinking they'll do it.  Nope, sorry, not that easy.

That first month of school, you will be continuously practicing. Practicing how to enter your classroom and getting to work. Showing them what needs to be done. Showing them how NOT to do it (students always love this) and then practicing again and again and again.

I always scheduled my class the same way :

First thing when they walked in, they worked on their Weekly Paragraph. Every. Single. Day. They simply knew what we were going to do and they did it.

After morning recess, we worked on our Number of the Day. Again, same thing, every day. After lunch, we did silent reading & literature circles and after last recess, I read to the students.

Every time my students walked in my classroom, they simply knew what we were going to do and that routine simply made things work smoothly.

There's so much more I can write on this subject, so I promise more blog posts are coming! But for now, think of all those transition times and how you can make them smoother for your students by doing the same thing over and over again. You'll be amazed at the results!

Monday, November 16, 2015

Classroom Management Tip #1 : Fostering and Nurturing Relationships

Last week, I talked about why I got rid of my behaviour chart and why I'm begging you to do the same! You can read more about that here.

For the next 4 weeks, I'm going to bring you my 4 no-fail tips to have the absolute best classroom management. It takes work, but trust me, the benefits are very worth it! When you have a classroom that still behaves and has fun the week before Christmas, or the week before the end of the school year, you will know that all your hard work paid off!

My first tip is probably my most important. Because without it, none of the other tips will work. They'll help, but they won't really achieve what's important in your classroom.

Because in your classroom, you don't want students to simply sit and listen and maybe learn.  You wan them to be engaged, you want them to take charge of their learning and you want them to be curious little souls.

My first tip? Foster and nurture relationships with them.

That means showing them that you love them for exactly who they are. Because every student is perfect just the way they are.  They might have behaviours that aren't ap. preciated, but they need to know that you, the teacher, cares truly about them.

How can you show them this?

It all depends on the students, but one of the easiest ways is to be present.  When students are coming into your classroom in the morning, be there, at the door or in the hallway. Greet them, talk to them about their night or their morning. Be interested in what they're interested in by asking questions and letting them talk. Smile.

At lunch time, take 5 minutes to sit down with a couple of students and chat with them. At the end of the day, wish each and every one of them a wonderful evening.

Take 2 minutes out of your day to talk to that student that gives you a headache each day. But truly talk to them. Ask them what they enjoy doing, or their favourite TV show or sport to play. Whatever. Just don't talk shop. Don't start talking to them about their behaviour or what they can do to improve. Don't talk to them about their potential or how you know that today can be a better day than yesterday.

Be genuine, be real, be affectionate (in a proper teacher-relationship way) and really build those relationships.

Because when students love you, they'll do anything for you.

Stay tuned for my next tip : Implementing Structure & Routine

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Please! Get Rid of that Behaviour Chart!

My 4th year of teaching, I found an amazing chart.  One that I thought was going to change the way I taught forever!

You guessed it, it was a Coloured Behaviour Chart. I made it myself, with 7 coloured squares. Everyone started on the middle green square and could either move up or down throughout the day depending on the choices they made.

Sounds good in theory. Students are responsible for their own actions, they were made accountable for those actions by their placement on this chart.  To make it more enticing, every square represented a point (1 through 8) and at the end of the day, you added your number to a class list. When you reached a certain amount of points, you received a reward.  There were also class-wide rewards for when everyone reached a certain amount of points.

It was awesome.

Or so I thought. 

Imagine having a behaviour chart in the staff lounge, where your boss could move you up or down depending on various circumstances.  Would you like to see your pin moved down? How would you feel as a teacher? Would you hold your head up high and feel proud and happy?

Every child is perfect the way they are, and it's not by moving them up or down that we change their behaviour (if we so desire).  That chart simply acts as a tracking tool, but it doesn't foster nurturing relationships that students crave.  It doesn't allow students to grow in your classroom. It airs out their dirty laundry and that's just not right.

So please, do yourself a favour and throw that behaviour chart out! Just throw it away! Don't give it to another teacher (like I did! Oops! I majorly regret that one) but throw it out. You don't need it and your students certainly don't need it.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Tricks & Treats: A Halloween Blog Hop and Giveaway!

Its my favourite time of year! Leaves are brightening our world, bugs have disappeared, cool but sunny days are in the forecast and the holidays are right around the corner! So what's a gal to do to celebrate this wonderful time of year? Participate in an amazing blog hop and giveaway with a few other TpT Authors and friends! 

Last year, I took my students on a field trip around the school. We visited each classroom, and were able to see everyone's costumes. It was a lot of fun, and my students loved showing off their costumes as well.

Then, when we went back to the classroom, I whipped out this Halloween Writing Activity, where students simply write about their favourite Halloween costume and justify their answer. We discussed options at first, and really dived into the *why*. I love developing their critical thinking! 

I always have a page protector glued onto each locker and students will decorate and add their finished text to this page protector to decorate the hallways and showcase their work. This turned into a whole-school activity as other classrooms wanted to come and read what my students wrote and see if anyone thought their costume was the best! 

Click here (or the image) to be able to download your Halloween Writing Activity for free! I have both Canadian/UK as well as US spelling included (because I use the word favourite/favorite!)

I told you this blog hop and giveaway was amazing! Not only do you get tips and tricks, you also have a chance to win one of 4 TpT $25 Gift Cards! How amazing is that!

Entering is simple! The rafflecopter is below, but you need my secret word to enter! My secret word is Skeleton! Fingers crossed!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Now don't forget to keep on going and "haunt over" to our next wonderful blogger, I Heart Grade 3 for her tips, tricks and secret word!

Want to add even more educational fun to your Halloween day? Check out my Halloween Close Reading Poetry and Writing Activity

Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Classroom Habitudes : Week 4

Last week is upon us!  I can't believe how quickly these past 4 weeks have gone by and how much I enjoyed reading this book.  If you're looking for a great book for your own professional development, I strongly suggest Classroom Habitudes: Teaching Habits and Attitudes for 21st Century Learning!

Need to catch up? No worries! You can read week 1 hereweek 2 here and week 3 here.

This week, we read about Passion and Adaptability. The passion chapter really got me thinking about my own passions.  It got me thinking about how to help my students understand about passion, and start thinking about their own passion and how it can and will influence their life.

There are a lot of thought-provoking questions in this chapter to help you understand your passion, and Maïers strongly suggests you use the questionnaire yourself to discover who you really are, what your passions are and what you can really do.  Questions like "When I..., it gives me a deep satisfaction and sense of accomplishment".For me, there are two that come to mind : when I cook and when I help others. 

The handout, A Passion Detector, is available for you to download here.

The last habitude according to Maïers is Adapability.  Adaptability is the ability to cope with change. This habitude is huge.  The way you approach and handle adapability can greatly influence your life. Think about technology (an example she brings up in the book), think about all the wonderful tools it brings us and whether or not you adapt to use them positively in your classroom.

I really do love the way Maïers organized the book to give us the play by play to introduce all these habitudes to our students. In her 3 lessons, she really has students thinking and then stepping outside of the box in terms of adaptability, how to turn those "yeah, buts" into "yes, hows." Instead of saying Good idea, but... let's say Wow, that could be very cool or Yes, and... 

If you are reading this blog post, I know that you are looking for ways to inspire your students, to prepare your students, to change your students' lives. The first step is up to you! Believe in your passion, believe in yourself and your skills, bring that to your classroom and you will succeed!

I'll leave you with one last quote from Angela Maïers.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Classroom Habitudes : Week 3

Welcome to week 3 of our 4 week book study blog hop with the book Classroom Habitudes by Angela Maiers! If you've missed the last couple of posts, don't worry!  You can catch up on week 1 here and week 2 here.

This week, we dove into the habitudes of Perseverance and Courage.  I must say, these two really spoke to me.  These are the two habitudes that I really want my students to demonstrate in my classroom, and that I strive for every year.  The great thing about Classroom Habitudes is that she gives you a no-fail, simple approach, including dialogue, on how to introduce these habitudes into your classroom.  There's no way your students won't "get it" when you use her approach!

I love how Maiers explains that students show perseverance when they give up TV time to spend hours studying, or they keep trying to complete a new assignment that's difficult.  She's giving them real example of how they persevere, and all students should be able to relate in one way or another to one of the statements.

In the three lessons, she really dives into allowing students to see how their perseverance pays off (or doesn't pay off). She really talks about failure as an amazing thing instead of something to be feared. This is something that's so tough for our students! They always want to be right, we reward the right answers, whether by compliments (good job!) or by grades. It's so important to allow students to fail and to see failure as a stepping stone to success.

In the detailed lessons, students really examine how their behaviour affects their results, whether positive or negative.  She also allows students to examine many examples of success vs failure and to bring students to really understand how failure isn't actually a negative thing! This is something that I've tried so hard to get students to understand, but Maiers really does a great job of laying out all the ground work.  This book, in my opinion, was worth it just for this one chapter.  If I can get ONE student to realize that failure isn't a bad thing by doing what's outlined in this chapter, then I will be over the moon happy!

Courage goes hand in hand with perseverance, because it takes courage to persevere!  It takes courage to keep on going and allow failure to bring success.  It takes courage to learn from bad decisions and to take responsibility for outcomes whether they are positive or negative.

Often, students believe that courage means a heroic act, like saving someone's life, but our students show courage every day! Maiers really dives into how students show courage every day and wants students to recognize and realize this habitude in themselves and others.  They learn to be comfortable with being uncomfortable and how to be able to guide their behaviours, actions and attitude as they face obstacles and challenges in their lives.

This book is really a must-read as you prepare yourself for your classroom this year!  These habitudes will be an amazing positive effect in your classroom this year!

Have a fantastic week!  Make sure to follow me to be notified when week 4 is out!

You can now read week 4 here!