By Billie Wixom
Skyline High School, Idaho Falls
Idaho Falls Education Association
Classroom management is one of the first classes taught in the College of Education, and it is a constant source of professional development. Rightly so, for students are rarely disobedient if they are actively engaged in learning. Teachers must also be actively engaged in their schools and with their students.
In the classroom, teachers act much like conductors leading a symphony, directing students seamlessly from one activity to the next. Good routines and structure make these transitions possible. By setting expectations on the first day and maintaining those expectations, teachers are able to create classroom routines that move students from independent learning to whole group activities to play opportunities with minimal disruption. There are many moving parts in a classroom, as there are in a beautiful piece of music, that require different levels of attention, from monitoring to direct intervention.
New and experienced teachers who focus on the Four Necessities of Learning as outlined below find greater success in leading the symphony of their classroom. These Four Necessities of Learning will give you a broad support base and many tools to use as you make music with your students.
Read everything you can get your hands on. Read about best practices, pedagogy, specific subject areas and classroom management. Read the local newspaper and the New York Times online. Read teaching blogs and cooking blogs. Read that new John Grisham novel. As appropriate, share what you have read with students. Let them know that you are reading, what you are reading, and why. This simple example will help create a new generation of readers.
Write your lesson plans. As you move through the year, make notes on your lessons, noting what worked and marking what failed. Write notes home to parents in good times and in bad. Write words of encouragement to students on assignments or notes to inform them that this is not their best work. Teachers also should write with students in class, becoming the in-class expert on how to write. When students see teachers writing, and sometimes struggling with writing, the students will learn how to write, to problem solve and how to persevere.
Speak with everyone in your building; those who teach your subject or grade level and those who do not. Discuss teaching, the school, the lunch options, and survival tips for when Halloween is on a Tuesday. Create a safety net of coworkers to buoy you up on a rough day. Offer to help when a coworker is having a tough time. Cultivate those in-building relationships. And, reach out to teachers across the city and across the state. There are networks of teachers online, especially through mynea360.org, an online meeting place sponsored by the National Education Association and the Idaho Education Association.
Listen to your gut. You are the expert in the classroom. You know your students and you know your subjects’ or grade level’s needs. You have this under control and are on track to have a great year.