Wednesday, February 15, 2012

3-Minute Classroom Management

Robert O'Brien is an exceptional principal in Spencer, MA. He shares an experience here that helped one of his teachers regain control of a particularly unruly classroom. His experience is as illuminating as it is simple. 

During my first year as an administrator, I was assigned to observe a new teacher to our high school. Her resume, recommendations, and job history made her appear to be the perfect candidate. However, when classes started, students from her class began to trickle to the office, either being “thrown out” or leaving of their own accord. I was instructed to investigate.

She had been a teacher for approximately five years—why was she having so much trouble?

I entered the class early and watched students come in, many after the bell. She stayed seated at her desk, and waited for the students to take their seats. This was a grade eleven American Literature class, a graduation requirement. The students jostled, slowly becoming aware that the assistant principal was in their classroom, and finally settled down.

After an agonizingly long attendance called, the teacher began the lesson, still sitting behind her desk, told the students to go to a table at the front of the classroom. There where five stacks of papers; the students were instructed to take one page from each pile, staple them together, and return to their desks. What ensued was chaos. All the students approached the table at the same times, the papers soon became a pile of disarray, and pushing and shoving broke out over the staplers.

I sat quietly, now knowing why she had so much difficulty.

Even before the class started, effective teachers have things in order. If a class is working on a five page packet, they are ready to go before class starts. An activator is placed on the board, with the expectation that the students begin working as soon as they walk into class. The teacher should meet the students at the door, offering words of encouragement and appropriate salutation while watching both the hallway and her classroom. When the bell rings, she stands among the students, using her personal space to prevent any disruptions. Attendance can be taken with an old fashioned seating chart. And never, ever have the students collate their own papers. The class is orderly and student are learning. The teacher is stress free and the students are on task.

What a difference three minutes can make.

Don't miss the free webinar on February 29th at 1:00 p.m. EST with Autism Training Solutions! Child behavior expert Emaley McCulloch will  present "Training Educators to Do Behavior Assessments." By the end of the webinar, participants will be able to:
  • Define and understand a range of student behaviors, and recognize why students are acting out
  • Determine the psychological and situational motivations behind student behavior
  • Use new understanding to better manage the classroom environment

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