Sunday, August 14, 2016

Classroom Management: Put in the Time to Save Time!

My personal philosophy on classroom management boils down to this: Put in the Time to Save Time.

At the beginning of the school year, I focus very much on social skills, expectations, and procedures. I truly believe that when students know how the classroom functions, there is more room for learning. I have seen teachers who ignore the need to teach these things at the beginning of the school year and it ends up interrupting the classroom and wastes so much time. If I could give first year teachers any bit of advice, I would say spend as much time on procedures and expectations as needed! I remember one year, I had to literally repeat how to come to the carpet from their desks five times before my cute little third graders did it correctly! Thankfully, by the time they come to me (now) in 5th grade they can pretty much follow classroom procedures after they are explained. However... my little lovelies do benefit greatly by explicitly being taught social skills and how to get along with one another respectfully. 

I block out a time in my day to teach these skills and add any others, as needed:
1. Advocate for Oneself
2. Make a Complaint
3. Make an Apology
4. Disagree Appropriately
5. Choose Appropriate Words 

The procedure is (Day 1) brainstorm what why the skill is important and discuss how it can help facilitate a productive classroom, friendship, family life, etc. I share with them the poster for steps to follow in order to be successful with this social skill. Then students complete a "Think Sheet" as homework which is provided for every skill in the book, More Tools for Teaching Social Skills in School Grades 3-12
(Day 2) Role Play situations in which the skill would be practiced. I mostly do this in small groups and sometimes with partners.
(Day 3) Students play Community Building game to enhance the bond between each other (Great Group Games Book)
(Day 4) Real life - We discuss when they have used this skill in the past week. How did it turn out? Were you successful? If not, why? If so, why? How did it feel?

I hang the posters up around the classroom and continue to refer to them for the rest of the school year. I have a Class Meeting once a week and sometimes this is a great moment to reflect on these skills. I also am able to refer to the posters when students come to me privately with a problem. I have found that these 5 skills are the ones that, typically, my fifth graders need guidance in using. However, I have added more as the year goes on, as necessary.

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