Classroom Management Help

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by condenser, Mar 9, 2013.

  1. condenser

    condenser New Member

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    Mar 9, 2013

    Hi All,

    I'm a first-year teacher and am an interesting position. I replaced a teacher that transferred to another school site while I was still in my credential program. I replaced her roughly two weeks into the second quarter of this school year.

    I taught Freshmen when I was doing my student teaching, but I now have Juniors.

    Before I started my new job, I asked a veteran teacher (my credential program cohort leader) if she had any advice. She said to not make the mistake of saying that "there's a new sheriff in town", so I didn't. My new students REALLY loved their old teacher, so it has been a tough position to come into.

    I figured that there was a maturity difference in the Freshmen that I had been teaching and the Juniors that I was beginning to teach. I started being more relaxed with my Juniors, but that seems to have been a mistake.

    When the students are working in groups or pairs, they often go off-topic, and don't get as much accomplished as I would like.

    I know that the first few days of school set the tone for the rest of the year, but since I came in during the second quarter, this wasn't an option. This upcoming week is the last week of the third quarter--a very difficult time to implement new procedures.

    I would love some suggestions on how I can implement new classroom management strategies/procedures.

    Thank you!
     
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  3. condenser

    condenser New Member

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    Mar 10, 2013

    I'd love some assistance.
     
  4. Ms.SLS

    Ms.SLS Cohort

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    Mar 10, 2013

    Ok, instead of implementing new procedures, try things like setting a timer while they work. (ie. You have 10 minutes to answer questions 1-3 with your group, and then you will be sharing/I will collect your work).

    Usually, by the time they hit 11th grade, they realize grades are important and will not want to waste time that will be affecting your grade. If you let them waste time with no consequence, of course they will, so you have to have consequences in place.
     
  5. condenser

    condenser New Member

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    Mar 10, 2013

    Thanks. I always use a timer. I'm beginning to think that I should structure my lessons to look more like they did when I taught Freshman.
     
  6. Loomistrout

    Loomistrout Devotee

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    Mar 11, 2013

    How much time are you willing to invest? Students don't read your rules - they already know them - as much as your commitment. If rules and procedures are announced or "gone over" it is a clear sign they are not important to the teacher. If they aren't important to the teacher they won't be important to the students. Consider:

    Sit down and brainstorm a list of rules and procedures. Don't leave any out - from where to put back packs, notes from home to hand signals to how to ask for help to headings on work. You should come up with about 20. From the list prioritize in terms ones which are most important (must have) to ones which can wait. Then prioritize in terms of the order you will teach each rule or procedure. I think about the first thing I want students to know when they walk in the door. Critical - do not make any rule or procedure you are not prepared to stop instruction and reteach at any time. In other words, if you have a rule students must raise hand to make a comment but recognize a student who doesn't because the discussion is lively you have defined your rules as meaningless.
     
  7. MissApple

    MissApple Companion

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    Mar 12, 2013

    If it's reached the point where it's obvious from the outside that things are not working, have a heart to heart with the kids. Tell them you recognize things aren't going as well as they should and you need their input on how to make things better. I did that with a sophomore class last year and it really helped. They turned in anonymous suggestion papers which I expected to be full of joke idea but they actually took it seriously and came up with some good stuff.

    Beyond that, be fair, firm and consistent. I know how hard it can be, but it's one of the most important things.

    As for getting off topic in groups, how about a challenge? Every once in a while I'll give my groups a packet or assignment to do in small groups. Whichever group gets a 100% the fastest gets a prize. It really gets them communicating with each other, discussing and debating answers and helping other students in the group understand why an answer is correct. Just make sure it's something challenging but that they CAN handle independently, and mix up the groups so the same kids don't win every time.

    Lastly, how much are you circulating around the room while they work in pairs or groups? Sometimes just having them know you're in earshot and will be checking in with them regularly will help keep them on task.
     
  8. blauren

    blauren Rookie

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    Mar 18, 2013

    Do they choose their groups or do you choose for them? If you can figure out which ones tend to be the ones that go off topic then place them with people they won't really socialize with.
     
  9. HSEnglishteach

    HSEnglishteach Rookie

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    Mar 22, 2013

    Often, classroom management with work in groups can be improved with really simple steps. I've surprised myself more times than I can count with how far a very basic change can go toward producing a more productive class environment.

    First, as the above poster suggested, pick students' groups for them. That may sound like something you'd only have to do for freshmen, but think about it: even as an adult you may have a difficult time focusing in a group with your best friend or with a potential love interest. Don't make that an option for them. They won't see you as a tyrant -- they know what best practices are even more than you do!

    Also, be clear about your expectations and about the task at hand. Is it something that really needs to be done in groups? Does every group member have an assigned role? Will you be keeping the group members accountable for accomplishing their designated roles with a grade? Is there time pressure?

    What I like to do prior to group work is give students an independent assignment they have to work silently on. Then I will put them into groups I know won't turn into social sessions.

    Finally, when groups get off task (they will -- even adults get off task from time to time), bring them back on task with some humor and a smile. If someone is constantly pulling group members off task and it's a persistent problem, have them work independently instead or even in the hallway.
     

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