Posted by: jockmackenzie | October 27, 2009

Classroom Management – more than entertainment

Flaming Chainsaw Juggling- 800px

When I first started teaching, I thought I would be successful if my lessons were interesting. I came to learn that I could juggle flaming chain-saws, spit razor blades and stand on one leg . . . and some student would say, “Can you spin while you do that?” I soon came to realize that you can’t please ’em all – no matter what you do.

While in the midst of teaching, I didn’t differentiate between classroom management and classroom discipline. But now, I think I’d put the proactive things teachers can do in the “management” column and the reactive strategies in the “discipline” column.

In a proactive sense there are a multitude of things to do. One of the first priorities is to establish a rapport with your students. A quote often used by principal, Jerry Simonsen, was,”They don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” I agree.

One of my philosophies of teaching is that it’s important to be friendly without having to be a friend. I aim for a positive, warm relationship with my students but I don’t strive to be a pal. There has to be a line that basically says, “When push comes to shove, I’m the boss.”

In order to establish a positive rapport, I always loved the idea of effectively managing our time together. Today seems to be quote day so “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop.” It’s true that you are much more likely to have problems in those times during a class when there isn’t some planned activity.

The “Anticipatory Set” has long been a wonderful tool that makes for effective use of the critical first moments of class. Here’s an example: When I am teaching the structure of the short story, I want to get across the idea of sequencing; events occur in a certain order. Despite the fact that I am most definitely not a math teacher, I put sequences of numbers on the board. As students arrive, they are challenged to complete the sequence. I start quite easily and build from there.

Shown below are some sequences that I might use over the course of several days, usually two a day.

2     4     8     16     32     ___     ___

3     8     13     18     ___     28     ___

2     4     3     9     4     16     5     ___     ___     36

1000     900     700     400     ___

But not being a real math guy, I return to the world of letters (but I’m still kind of in math mode – and that’s a hint)

O     T     T     ___     F     S     ___

F     T     F     T     T-F     ___     ___     F

And then I start to think of other sequences that we live with in our day-to-day lives:

J     F     M     A     ___     J     ___     A

F     W     S     ___,      F     W     ___

S     M     ___     W     T     ___

H     B     T     ___, H     B     T     ___

Two sequences per day are just a part of the Anticipatory Set that is ready for each class every day on the board or overhead or SMARTboard as they enter the room. Well, almost every day. It has to be there so that it becomes a habit to come in, sit down, and do something that gets the kids in Language Arts mode.

It may not be juggling flaming chain-saws, but the idea says that we are here to learn – and to learn something that’s interesting and challenging and that honors our time together.

And now the answer key:

2     4     8     16     32    64      128 numbers are doubled

3     8     13     18     23 28     33     add 5 to the previous number

2     4     3     9     4     16     5     25     6 36      a number squared

1000     900     700     400    0     (x – 100 then 200 then 300, etc.)

But not being a real math guy, I return to the world of letters (but I’m still kind of in math mode – and that’s a hint)

One Two Three Four Five Six Seven

Five Ten Fifteen T     T-F     T     T-F F     add by 5’s

And then I start to think of other sequences that we live with in our day-to-day lives:

January February M     A     M J     J A

Fall Winter Spring S,      F     W     S

Sunday Monday T W     T     F

Happy Birthday     To Y, H     B     T     Y


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