I am by no means an expert on classroom management, but after 29 years in the classroom, I can tell you there are some tricks of the trade you learn. I remember my early years of teaching strolling by classrooms hoping that a quick peek in the door might solve a problem I was encountering. From the outside looking in, it appeared as though... those teachers "had it altogether". I remember one in particular…. I just wanted so badly to go in her room and just be the “Fly on the Wall”, but of course when you are young and right out of college you don’t just go in a room where you don’t really know someone and ask them how do they do it. Several reasons probably keep us from going in there…1) you are trying to present yourself as confident (after all you want to be hired back, 2) you generally ask those on your grade level that you working up trust with, and 3) for me it was that overall timidity.
This particular teacher…Mrs. Butler was a picture of just wanted I wanted to be. Her students were perfectly behaved, and soooo attentive. Her classroom was neat, not overly fussy, but you could tell it was organized and a place that kids wanted to be. She was friendly, but she stayed on task at work (by no means the lounge lizard), so I would have had to march right in and ask her “the secret” to her success. I also heard parents saying how much they loved her. Many years later after she retired, she taught my daughter in Sunday School and I confessed how much I had loved walking by her room. She was ever so gracious. But I wonder how often we are fighting the same battles, and one of us is holding the key to fix the problem. Makes you wonder if we could all get over pride, timidity or whatever was holding us back and share more, what we might could accomplish?!.
Anyway, I thought I would share some of my favorite books on management that have guided me down the road. Life has changed in my years of teaching, and we definitely have to have more tricks up our sleeve than in the past. The world is fast moving and we have to really work at it to keep the kiddos attention.
One of my favorites is Dream Class by Michael Linsin.
He has a website with an article a week that he has written over the past three years. I can honestly say just browsing his old newsletters would be great reading even if you didn’t buy the book. The book is great and you will get to know the author as well. I adjusted his three consequences with the clip chart. I am probably just too much a softie or pushover to be as dogmatic as his three consequences (hence, we always have to adjust things to work for us!).
Another of my favorites is the clip chart ebook, by Rick Morris. I really enjoyed the entire book, but I found through trial and error that I didn’t really want to go as far as he did with the rewards. I am a firm believer in that most of the kids are almost immune to trinkets this day and time. They all get so much of that stuff. A pat on the back, the glory of being at the top, a stand up and clap for them at the end of the day is just as effective. However, I did love the clip chart.
Ron Clark’s, The Essential 55 is another top notch book, very common sense, but worth the read. He has a new one out that I have not read yet, but will this summer.
I love Eric Jensen’s book, Teaching with Poverty in Mind: What Being Poor Does to Kids’ Brains and What Schools Can Do about It…. It is packed with some wonderful stuff about children of poverty. What I really liked about this book is that he not only identifies poverty, but gives real solutions of dealing with it in the classroom. His website provides a newsletter as well.
Maybe these would make great summer reads to motivate you for the next school year.
And of course, just when you have one class all figured out, another class comes in that is completely different. They are made up of wonderful kids coming from so many backgrounds and such diversity. We have to remain diligent to our task to teach these children in spite of the negative press we teachers often receive. They are our future.