Classroom Management. It's all about the attitude. No, not my students' attitudes, MY attitude.
In this post, I want to share my personal journey with classroom management.
Rewards and consequences are not the center of classroom management. You are.
My first year teaching was rough. The kids gave everyone in the building a run for their money and they flat out ran over me. They didn't care about marbles, referrals, bad notes, good notes, or tokens.
My problem was the toughest cookies could give a crap about getting a yo-yo for 50 points. It wouldn't have mattered if I had a clip chart, coupons, or cold hard cash. Students won't care about their behavior if that's your only "go-to" when trouble knocks at the door.
I had developed a serious misconception about classroom management. In college, we wrote out our sweet little management plans with consequences and rewards. The kids were supposed to love school, want to earn rewards, and give up after their first warning.
Ha. Ha freakin' ha.
I blew it that year. And I didn't want that to every happen again. I loved teaching, but I couldn't teach with so many issues. I read a lot of realistic books over the summer and thought about the qualities that make a teacher good at management. It was all in the attitude. My classroom management improved greatly in the following years and it had nothing to do with what "management system" I used. It had to do with my attitude.
My focus on rewards and consequences sits far, far below my focus on attitude. Staying upbeat about learning, not tolerating nonsense, being interested in what students are doing, and developing mutual respect with my students became #1.
Mutual respect goes a very long way. Kids will tell you the truth. Kids will put forth a little extra effort, just for you. Kids will be regretful that they disappointed you. Kids will do better. Kids will grow as learners and people.
(Side Note: Has this worked with every student? Almost. Out of 70 students last year, I feel like I had almost all of them "on my side". But there was this one student...there's always one, isn't there? As much as I'd like to write a post about how I Stand and Deliver Dangerous Minds into Freedom Writers, I didn't with him.)
My classroom climate changed. It wasn't me vs. them all day long. We were on the same side pretty often. There were issues that came up. With 11-year-olds, that's bound to happen. With respect on your side, you can tell a student what needs to be said about their behavior...they are just more likely to hear you. We kept on keepin on! It won't always be rainbows and sunshine, but we can develop positive relationships with students and they will grow!
When things aren't going so swell with my students, I ask myself some questions before going after the newest, hottest "management system".
If you want to play along, here are some questions to ask yourself:
1. What's your attitude like?
2. What are your students' attitudes like?
3. Do your students enjoy being in your class?
4. Do YOU enjoy being in your class?
5. Do you and your students have mutual respect?
I wish you all a FABULOUS school year!