As the new school year draws closer here in Turkey, I find myself in an unusual situation: for the first time, I will teach in the 5th grade (along with one 6th grade class but more on that in another post) and, also for the first time, I will be teaching classes I have worked with before.
On the one hand, this is a good thing as it means I can start the year in a different way. As there will be no need for ‘getting to know you’ activities and we can instead focus on catching up after the summer holiday and discussing expectations for the forthcoming year. On the other hand, it presents me with a problem as I will be working again with some ‘difficult’ students and classes (who you may remember me referring to previously in posts like this, this and this).
Looking for peace and quiet in class this year… - Image by kaneda99
I decided I would need to review my classroom management strategies in order to start the year on a positive and so I have revisited a number of blog posts written by wonderful members of my PLN which have really given me some great ideas:
Establishing the ground rules - written by Jo Budden on the Teaching English website. I will lay down a few ground rules on the first day and also give the students the chance to contribute some rules of their own in a form of ‘class contract’. All I will ask of them is that they are ready when the lesson begins, they don’t interrupt when somebody (teacher or student) is talking and they wait until I dismiss class before packing up and leaving. The rest is up to them!
When a “Good” Class Goes “Bad” (and Back to “Good” Again!) - this post by Larry Ferlazzo is one of my favourite ones and I especially like the ideas of having a secret sign agreed with an individual student to let them know when they are trying my patience and telling a student I will not call their parents immediately but rather after a week, in which time they have the chance to show me an improvement.
Ten ways to motivate the unmotivated… - a super heavyweight of a post from Ken Wilson packed with great ideas. I started to use more groups of three towards the end of last year and it worked well so this time I will be using more threesomes from the beginning. I’m sure my students will also enjoy the responsibility of presenting different units of material and I will also make a concerted effort to get them out of rows more often.
10 Classroom Management Ideas that Worked in my Classes - most of the ideas form Burcu Akyol’s blog are more suitable for kids younger than the ones I will teach but I intend to make use of student helpers, both to do some tasks during the class and to ensure the rules we have agreed on are followed, especially with regards to being ready for class on time. To do this, I will name 4 ‘captains’ per class with the names changing on a regular basis. I will also make use of the school wiki to praise good behaviour and work, hopefully motivating them to contribute more (see Part 2 of Burcu’s post).
Let’s see what the magic bag thinks - Aside from behaviour issues and kids lacking motivation, another classroom management issue I constantly have to deal with is those highly enthusiastic students who want to answer every question and help with every task. Although they are well-intentioned, they often end up dominating the class and/or getting frustrated when the teacher does not call on them. This year, I’m going to pinch Richard Whiteside’s idea of having all the students’ names on cards in a bag or box and drawing them out at random when reviewing answers or carrying out tasks- this way the ‘quiet’ ones get involved more, the ‘naughty’ ones don’t feel that they are being deliberately excluded and the ‘enthusiastic’ ones don’t get to dominate so much.
I’ll be posting again later in the year to let you know how it all went!