Hacking Classroom Management part 2

Hacking classroom management part 2. Classroom management is a major concern for effective teachers. Last week we looked at the first two hacks in Mike Roberts’s book, Hacking Classroom Management, 10 ideas to help you become the type of teacher that they make movies about. (#1 It’s a classroom, not a bootcamp and & #2 Expect their best in and out of the classroom.). This post will cover hack #3, take in a game, concert or play and #4, get ’em up and get ’em moving.

#3 Take in a game, concert or play

Schools are very active places. Students are involved in a wildly diverse amount of activities. Your class isn’t the only thing they’ve got going on. Too many times we act like the sun rises and sets on our subject area. We need to think that our subject is important, but we also need to affirm the variety of interests of our students. One of the best ways to accomplish this task is by attending an activity that the student is involved in.

Begin by talking to students and listening to their responses. What do they do after school? Are they wearing a team jersey in class? Again, listen to them. Did you hear them talking about an upcoming concert or game? You can directly poll them and ask about their extra curricular activities.

Once you know what your students are involved in, you now need to make a plan. Take the school calendar and break down what events you can attend. You don’t always need to be there for the entire event. But, when you are there, be all in! Don’t look distracted and don’t act like it is a huge sacrifice to be there. If possible, invite other teachers to attend with you, or bring your family. This will make you look more human to your students.

Lavish praise!

This next step is extremely important. Talk about the previous event in class, or talk about it before/after class on the next class meeting. If you had to leave a game early, ask how it turned out. Make as big of a deal out of their participation as possible. You will win students over when they realize you care about them beyond your course content and your classroom management will improve.

My experience with hack #3

The largest success I’ve seen here is with football players. The band plays for home games so it is easy for me to comment about the games. I’ve found that acknowledging the various jerseys that students wear and inquiring about their games pays large dividends as well.

#4 Get ’em up and get ’em moving

Kids simply can’t be asked to sit at their desks for the entirety of the class. I have been terribly guilty of violating this hack. My school has a block schedule, which means that a middle school student has 90 minute classes. Asking them to sit still for that entire block is unreasonable. So, how do we fix this?

Roberts suggests keeping concepts to 10 minutes maximum. Introduce the concept and then shift back to the students. Here are a few ideas that he suggests:

  • Let students write concepts on the board one at a time
  • Allow students to turn and talk about the concept
  • Pair students up and have them walk around campus talking about the concept
  • Have students stand and do their work using standing desks, if possible

My experience with hack #4

I have had success with moving class outside. A few years ago I was working with a chorus class and realized that what they were singing would sound great in the stairway. We moved outside and sung with great results. This has become something that we regularly do as we perfect our music. (On a side note, it also helped to promote our upcoming concerts. Other teachers heard us singing and could plan to attend the concert. Hack #3!)

Other personal anecdotes

I had a middle school band class that would ask to play while standing. Unfortunately, my initial reaction was, no. But, one day I thought, “why not?”. We stood and the kids sounded better. This become a regular activity for the us.

Last year I introduced a greater focus on breathing exercises at the beginning of class. Numerous students said that it not only led to better performing but also simply helped them to relax. I had 6th graders who would remind me if I forgot to do breathing exercises.

Next week we’ll continue “Hacking classroom management” with Hack #5 and #6.

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