Friday, February 8, 2013

No, I Won't Back Down: A New Teacher's Journey to Effective Classroom Management

"Sit down!", "Be Quiet!", "Shhhhh!!!" These desperate commands are often heard in the rooms of beginning teachers. I know that I have used them. In a desperate attempt to seek control of the class new teachers often fall back on these. Even as a student teacher, I often heard the more experienced teachers use them. Albeit effective in the short run, is it the most effective way to manage a classroom?

The tried and true guru of classroom management, Mr. Harry Wong states in his book, The First Days of School:How to be an Effective Teacher, "A teacher who is grossly inadequate in classroom management skills is probably not going to accomplish much." He further states, "The ineffective teachers, each day, become more stressed, burned out, frazzled, negative, cynical. and angry." Wow! This is not what I want. With the desire to become a teacher of excellence, I must understand that the difficulty of managing middle school children will not just happen. Furthermore, I must also understand that creating a great lesson won't magically make them behave either, no matter how many hours I spend on it. There must be a plan, and that plan must be implemented every day and in every class.

This week I reread a book called, Teach Like a Champion: 49 Techniques that Put Students on the Path to College. This book speaks to me because it is not full of educational theories. It contains what first year teachers need: techniques. It offers ideas on how to maintain attention, transitions, effective seating arrangements. The book also includes a DVD with clips of master teachers around the country using the techniques in their own classrooms.

After realizing that I needed to gain a stronger foothold with my students I used the "SLANT", "all eyes", "strong voice", "track speaker", and "100 percent" at the beginning of last week, which are all strategies from Teach Like a Champion. Over a period of two to three days we spent time at the beginning of each class going over the techniques and practicing them as a class. Then, I consistently used them each day. So far, I have had great success with it, and we are able to accomplish more during class. Additionally, I began creating a T-chart before each class day, listing exactly what I needed to do on one side, and what the kids needed to be doing on the other side. The t-chart exercise has helped me tremendously to keep the flow going without minor interruptions. The t-chart was in addition to my lesson plan.

Finally, I listened to music to mentally prepare me for the day. My song for this week was "I Won't Back Down" by Tom Petty.

Well I won't back down, no I won't back down
You could stand me up at the gates of hell
But I won't back down

Gonna stand my ground, won't be turned around
And I'll keep this world from draggin' me down
Gonna stand my ground and I won't back down

Well I know what's right, I got just one life
In a world that keeps on pushin' me around
But I'll stand my ground and I won't back down

As the year moves forward I will use these strategies, and continually reflect on their effectiveness.

The resources from this blog post are listed below:

Harry Wong:

Teach Like a Champion:    You Tube Introductory Video to Teach Like a Champion

 Tom Petty song

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