Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Classroom Management Take One

I don't even know that any of this is going to work.  Kind of hard to try out without children, I should say.  But it's about getting a plan together.  Why is classroom management my weakness anyhow?  I'd say my natural disorganization is a big culprit.  Coming in a strong second, or possible tie for first, is my temper.  And if I had to peg down a third reason, I'd say it's because I'm sort of goofy.  No one takes goofy seriously.  No matter how much taller you are.

I think what I've discovered in the past couple of weeks will help me out with the first two issues.  But I don't know that anything can be done about being goofy.   And I can't say that it's something about myself I dislike either- so it's not like I'm going to really be able to fix it.  Because I'm goofy, I know I'm not going to find a one-size-fits-me management strategy.  I'm going to have to pull a Frankenstein number on this one.  There's a title for ya! But whatevs, I'm already into the composing part.

I'm going to pull thoughts from Daily 5 

Baldrige in Education  

Conscious Discipline 
also check out Heather's Heart for some great posts on this subject of Conscious Discipline

The Responsive Classroom 

and my own brain 

This past Spring I started doing some of the Daily 5 management tips as far as making I-charts for desired behaviors and making muscle memories and I found that it worked very well, even with my kids who'd pretty much trained their muscles to drive me crazy.  I feel like beginning with this method from the start is going to help me a lot this next year.  I also started using the charts and training in all other areas of the classroom, not just literacy.

I admit to not knowing anything about "common core".  It's apparently everywhere though.  And with it comes these "I can" and "We can" statements.  I like the idea of putting everything in positives and avoiding the negative.  I made up booklets for my different class routines using these statements.  The sensational Lyda laminated and bound all of them for me before the end of school.  This one shows a picture that one of my kids drew to illustrate the page, but all of the books were laminated and bound WITHOUT pictures, because I want to give the kids each year an opportunity to draw a picture that matches the pages.  I was also thinking that if they were doing a behavior that I didn't really appreciate, they could read the appropriate book, find the page that was the opposite of their choice, and draw THEMSELVES doing the desired action.  And now considering it, I think I can easily take photos of the kids doing the desired behaviors for the illustrations.  Make it into a powerpoint or something...hmmm.

The categories of books I currently have are: 1) How to Make Every Morning Marvelous, 2) How to Make Writer's Workshop Wonderful, 3) How to Make Guided Reading Great, 4) How to Make a Quality Line, 5) How to Make Recess Really Fun, 6) How to Have a Lovely Lunch, 7) How to Make Math Workshop Magnificent, 8) How to Make Every Encore Excellent, and 9) How to Make Window of Inquiry Incredible.  Corny, I know- but it worked for me.  They have anywhere from nine to fifteen We Can statements each.  Taking a quick moment to read them aloud before each activity helped get them centered as well.  I bound them with a blank page on the front and a Can statement on the back, so that if I ever have to take out a page, or add a page, it can be easily done.  I bought photo tabs to put on the blank pages to hold the pictures I take or the kids draw.

I saw this chart on Pinterest:

what respect looks like and sounds like- could make these anchor charts for all of the PYP attitudes, kids could keep mini-ones in their data binders.

And that had me thinking about the PYP attitudes, and how I could easily make charts to go with them.

And I also ran across this visual scheduling pin: (she has great stuff PERIOD, besides just this)
VISUAL Learning: Cues, Supports and Systems used in Preschool and Elementary for Children with Special Needs

My oldest son has autism, and has used many visual schedules in the past.  And considering how many times my kids asked me "When is..." "What are we going to ....." everyday all day- I can't believe that a visual schedule could be bad for anybody.  I also discovered on the Conscious Discipline site that the part of our brain that handles self-control and rules is also visual.  So I'm definitely going to amp this aspect up next year.

I also have to consider the behavior system my school already has in place.  We do a lot with Baldrige when it comes to Quality Students, Quality Teachers, Mission and Vision Statements, and mottoes like "I am Responsible for the success of my own learning" and "I am response-able to the success of the group".  I can beef all of these up with better visuals and more concentrated classroom meetings.  We also have a star punch attitude card system where when they get ten punches for the desired behaviors the card gets sent to the counselors office and she sends up a small prize like a pencil or eraser.

I have a tendency to forget about those cards.  It's just not something I want to stop and do- go punch someone's card when I'd rather be teaching.  I also confess to hating sticker charts as a behavior management tool. I know, going to teacher jail. But I can't help it.  I want to be teaching, not patting heads all day.  But I also know that I am RESPONSE-ABLE to the success of my group- the school- and I need to do my part when it comes to this school-wide expectation.  So during the year, I came up with a chart to help me figure out who needed punches.  I confess it also helped me monitor poor behavior, and I used it as a tool to get kids to notice what they were doing.  Of course, now, after reading all of these positive discipline blogs- I feel like the devil.  But, learn from your mistakes, right?  So I'm going to change it into a chart to NOTICE good behaviors of others.

So, combining two Pinterest ideas:
  Dry erase boards made out of picture frames! This would be awesome for a teacher's desk to keep reminders/to do's on. Wouldn't get lost in all the other papers :)

The first one is from What the Teacher Wants, and the second is a pin that does not have a website link so I'll just connect it back to my pin, and then if it is anybody's, they can let me know.

I'm going to use the picture frames on a bulletin board to visually represent the desired behaviors : A smiling face for using kind/polite words, a hand with a heart inside it for helping others, an ear for great listening, a brain for making great choices, the fifth will be the PYP attitude of the month, and then the sixth will be a graph.  Each frame will have all of the kids names underneath the picture representation.  So whenever I NOTICE students doing those things I can say a NOTICING statement and circle their name or add tallies as the case may be during the week.  These tallies will equate to punches on their cards, and I developed a system for slowly making more tallies equal a punch across the year.

Then, the brownie points deal- I'm doing a moose/cupcake theme next year, so on the bulletin board I'll have my moose baker holding a cupcake tin.  In the school behavior program, 80% of your class has to turn in a punch card each month to qualify for the March Madness Basketball competition.  So keeping with that guideline, each week, if any given frame has 80% of the class names circled, that earns a cupcake for the tin. I think I'm going to try to make them 3-D so that I can open the top somehow and put a class reward idea inside.  Once the class fills the tin, I'll work out some system for having someone pick a cupcake from the tin and we'll see what they got.  It should roughly take three to four weeks minimum to earn a class reward.  And let's say they are just AWESOME, it's basically three celebrations a quarter or 12 for the year.  And that is o.k. by me.

I was inspired by Seusstastic Classroom Inspirations when it came to classroom rewards.  I don't really want it to be material.  I don't think I'm doing anybody any favors by buying them gifts.  She has great ideas for free rewards that are really simple and easy.  I've decided on 12 that I think will suit me, and I broke them up into three types: full day, half a day, or one class period/short time.  When they choose cupcakes for the celebration the first will always be a short celebration, then half day, then full day.  I guess...Haven't really decided...

Full Day: Crazy Sock Day, no shoes required; Crazy hat day; Pajama Day; and Stuffed Animal Day.
Half Day: Outdoor School- plan some sort of teaching experience outside for the second half of the day; Book to Movie- watch a movie related to a book we've read and do a compare/contrast (see, keeping it LEGITIMATE);   Experiment Extravaganza- getting dirty with the science experiments even if they have NOTHING to do with standards.  We're at least going over the scientific method; and Craftivity- crafts gone wild.  I'm sure I'll TRY to make them relate somehow to what we've been doing in class.
One Class Period to 15 minutes: special snack; extra recess; dance party; DEAD time.  Saw that one on Pinterest too, Drop Everything and DRAW.

And I'm not completely satisfied with the last set, so tweaking will be necessary.  But I trust in Pinterest, see? Something will turn up.  And looking over it now during my preview, you know, the full day rewards are actually the most simple- so they might be the automatic first choices.  Followed by the short time period and then the half day things are sort of the big deals, right? Hermmmmmmm...

And that, kittens, is the beginning of my thoughts.  I know there is a lot more to accomplish.  I'll be working on that building of a classroom community that is featured in ALL of these management systems, and I'll be retraining myself to get rid of some bad habits and try some new techniques, and kinda let go of the stress.  I agree that I should come home tired from a day of work- but it shouldn't be a painful exhaustion.  It should be a charged energy high of a great workout.  Sleep should always come peacefully.


  1. Great ideas! It's good to feel in control in the classroom. :)
    The Science Penguin

    1. Thanks. We shall see if I actually end up in control. It would be nice, to say the least.

  2. I have to give you a lot of credit for already working so hard in preparation for next year. You have some excellent ideas for your students.

    1. It feels like I'm doing the Friend's World routine though- how can we make the world beautiful? Great ideas- now let's go belly dance! I hope I can actually translate some of this into reality vs just my thought process. That's the key though, isn't it? Getting it out of the brain and into the world. I'm hopeful though. A bit more hopeful that I have been in the past.

  3. I have seen several of those pins too and hope to use them next year.

    I would love for you to buzz by sometime=)
    The Busy Busy Hive

  4. I gave you an award! Buzz by to pick it up=)

    The Busy Busy Hive

  5. I think The Daily 5 will help with some of the classroom management and hopefully eliminate some of the stress for you. One thing quoted in the Daily 5 that really got me was something about the loudest voice in the class (usually the teacher's in my class) sets the stage for the others. That said, I must keep my volume level low enough to influence the students to keep their voices quiet. Hmmmmm...lots to think about, huh?

  6. I know this quote. I think about it often. I am a LOUD person, so it is a struggle for me. I'm trying to decide if I just need a poster to remind me, or a rubber band to snap on my wrist every time I exceed a decibel limit, or just a muzzle?