Hallway conferences. Pasta discipline. Buddy rooms. Bell work. Those and six other ideas for taming temper tantrums—and other classroom disruptions—are the focus of this Education World story! Included: An opportunity for all teachers to share the classroom management techniques that work for them!
Sally McCombs has been teaching for more than 18 years. These days, she seldom has a discipline problem that she can't handle. That wasn't always the case, however.
McCombs recently recalled for Education World an experience from her early teaching days. "There was a student who was driving me crazy," she said. "He was arrogant and disruptive, but my good friend—who also taught him—had no trouble with him. So I asked her what her secret was, and she simply said 'You have to like him.'
"Notice," McCombs emphasized, the teacher said, "You don't have to love him, just like him—but it has to be real. I've tried to keep that in mind since then," added McCombs, a teacher at LEAP Academy in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. "I deal with kids differently when I really like them, even if I don't like their behavior. There is generally something to appreciate in every kid.
"I've had to realize that letting kids get away with things they know are wrong is not kind," McCombs explained. "Students need structure. They need to trust us, and that means we have to keep our promises, even if the promise is that you will call home or assign punishments."
McCombs has found a classroom management approach that works for her—and she was willing to share her experiences for the benefit of others. So were other educators who have found classroom peace. Today, Education World shares ten teacher-tested tips for managing a classroom. One of them might be perfect for you to try this fall in your classroom!
COUNTDOWN TO BEHAVIOR
Nancy Landis, a fourth-grade teacher at Oskaloosa (Kansas) Elementary School, has found a technique for quieting rambunctious kids that works well for her. As many other teachers do, she uses a simple counting technique. "I wear a stopwatch around my neck, and when the noise gets to an unacceptable level, I hold up the stopwatch and begin timing," said Landis.
"There is always a student who is aware of what I have done, and the word spreads quickly," explained Landis. "I never need to say a word; they regulate themselves. They know the time that has accumulated on the watch is the time they 'owe' before they can have recess." If the students respond quickly, Landis doesn't count the time on the watch against them.
Many other teachers employ variations of this technique. Some count aloud. One teacher we know counts aloud in Japanese—and the counting doesn't stop until all the students join in. She changes the language each month, so children learn to count in a new language while they manage their own behavior!
Another "countdown" teacher sets a goal for the counting time that a given class can accumulate. During the first week of school, that goal might be 200 seconds; the goal might decrease by 25 seconds each week, until it is down to 100 seconds a day at the end of the first month. If the students don't accumulate that many seconds of owed-time, he shares a "joke of the day." He says the kids hate to miss out on the joke—even if it is a groaner! Unlike the more-concrete awards some teachers provide, this award cost him only the price of a good joke book!
Most teachers agree that the key to making the countdown technique work is to set a goal and stick to it. The first time the kids lose out might be hard on the teacher who realizes that just one or two students have spoiled things for the others. Peer pressure works amazingly well, however—on the following day, the students are bound to do better!
Charles Kruger teaches at Bethune Middle School in Los Angeles. When a student is being difficult, he employs a technique called a "hallway conference." It's a technique Kruger learned in a seminar offered by Lee Canter Associates.
"I go to the doorway—slowly because I want the class to watch—and call the student to the hallway," Kruger explained. "The other students are quiet—they want to see what is going to happen."
When Kruger and the student get together in the hallway, the conversation goes something like this:
Kruger: I care very much about your success in my class, (student's name), and I'm concerned that you seem to be headed into trouble today. You have (here Kruger lists the offense or offenses), and I know you know that is against the rules. Is something going on today that is giving you a special problem? Can I help?
Student: (At this point, the student is usually disarmed and often responds "no." At other times, the student might present a problem. In either case, Kruger will usually continue ...)
Kruger: I'm glad there isn't a problem. (Alternative response: I'm sorry to hear that. Perhaps we can deal with that later.) Right now, this is what you have to do: Go back to your seat and (whatever the assigned task is), and don't give me any more problems today. Can you do that?... Are you sure?... Good. I'm glad we're going to be able to keep you out of trouble."
Kruger and the student return to the classroom as Kruger gives the student a big smile and says enthusiastically and clearly so the rest of the class can hear.
Kruger: Thank you, (student's name).
"At first I was concerned that some students anxious for extra attention would provoke hallway conferences, and that does happen," Kruger noted. "But the other students seem to understand, and the student who needs extra attention gets it. If a student is persistent, I try to find other ways of giving him or her extra attention. Even a little attention, such as making a point of greeting the student by name or asking for help with a chore, can significantly reduce some problem behaviors."
SEVEN MORE TEACHER TIPS TO TAME TEMPER TANTRUMS!
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