Share your classroom strategies

Why not share our classroom strategies? It would be a way of helping each other, of reminding ourselves of the basics, of getting some ideas of how to smooth out difficulties and it would create a bank of information for new and pre-service teachers. Not all strategies are going to work with a particular class, a particular year level, in a particular country or region. I was glad Rob Plevin had put this up on YouTube. He is very direct, honest and straight forward. You understand from his journey that he has worked on his performance standards, taken his classroom management seriously and is offering others a chance to rethink how they are approaching their students. He has nearly half a million hits for caring about us! When under pressure it is easy to fall into traps, get into a rut and looking at videos like this gives you a chance to refresh and reboot. His chit chat recommendation is a good one. His demonstrating how to approach students positively rather than negatively is demonstrated clearly and you can hear the voice and language changes. Meeting them at the door is not always going to work. Our school has a policy that we get to our classrooms 5 minutes before the end of a break and during lesson change times we do the best we can if we are changing rooms and are already there to greet the students if we have one classroom to teach in. If you are there before the students you can greet them and have some chitchat. You can get to know them better and develop a positive relationship. They can also come in and ask you about anything which may be worrying them. Some schools have penalties for lateness. That works if the students complete the penalties and respect them. I had a Syrian student teacher once who never noticed if students were late. It was in the days of books. She would keep teaching and just get them on the right page and point to the right spot ,open their exercise book and put a pen in their hands. She never mentioned it and it worked. After a couple of lessons with her all the students were on time. I have watched other videos about behaviour management and some recommend not singling out students and not mentioning names. I happened to be in class this morning and the very first thing I did was:

” John, would you mind listening please? It is really important to me that you listen. ” John looked up and sat quietly. I then remembered the videos I had been watching and said, “Oh, sorry. I should not have mentioned your name . I should have said I have one student not listening.” The students were amused. “Mrs. Woods , how would we know who it is? We might all be feeling guilty.”

John looked at me. “I really don’t mind. I wasn’t doing the right thing.”

My watching the videos has put “teaching” into me. I was reflecting on my practice and then sharing that with my students. I teach my students to say when they are not happy and to speak up for themselves at the right time the same as I do. If we all shared our behaviour management strategies we would be stronger, we’d have more strategies and we’d build strong relationships. Essentially that is what Rob Plevin is talking about and showing us. It’s about talking to students so that they can see you value their input and they , in turn, value yours. In the same class this morning the chit chat turned up that all but one  of the students was feeling very tired. That helped me quickly rethink my lesson with them so I was not pushing them too hard and allowing them to lighten up a bit during the course of a double lesson. In the end, we achieved a lot and felt like we had been successful. Sharing works.

Technology in education

technology in education Technology in education is a very good blog for two reasons – it shows how to use Tumblr effectively and it discusses openly and in an interesting way the sorts of issues we all confront with technology in a classroom. As the author states : “However, it is a teacher’s responsibility to actually learn about the technology and use it effectively in a classroom to garner student engagement. ” The latest post Digital Generation Gap looks at how we deal with students doing other things with their devices when they are in class learning. It looks upon it as a generational issue. Every point made hits home and describes exactly the impact it has on you as a teacher and then the thoughts you have. The post is so real. So, how do we react to it, manage it and deal with it? If I find students texting on their phones I hold my hand out and they know I will take the phone and lock it in my filing cabinet for the lesson. I am always clear about what I think about texting in class. With “other activities” I use the argument that is used at the end of the post on the Digital Generation Gap post. If they can do it, well, what if I came into class , texted my friends and family, set them work and did my emails or let them do what they wanted on their laptops so I could get on with my blogging? They understand that. I also say it is very silly to pay me as much as I am paid so they can come to class and text, surf the Net, go on iChat and it is a very silly thing for a teacher to be paid that much while they do as they please…maybe I should! They then get the trust speech. They seem to get that too. When I found some senior students on iChat instead of working on their assignment I asked them to log out of it, but I left myself logged in. iChat is horribly annoying when you have the sound on. It makes all this banging noise when people log in and out. About 10 minutes before the end of the lesson one student couldn’t contain herself any longer and asked me to turn it off. I said that was how often people go on and off of iChat in lesson. We used to use iChat to send each other files until the LMS was up and running and mostly iChat is as the Digital Generation Gap describes. Students see another student they know and just say a cheery hallo. Is there harm in that? No. Is it only that? Don’t have the time to find out. One technician we had in her twenties said we didn’t distinguish between school behaviour and home behaviour with technology. Good point. I have also had student teachers in their 20s who find students doing things other than the set work on their devices abhorrent. We have always had a conversation about how to manage that in class. I have heard of very well credentialled and successful technology teachers refusing to teach any more with technology because students are doing other things. We need to talk about it. We need to get it out into the open. Students are in our care. It is digital citizenship, time and place, financial outlay, cost effectiveness, real time vs virtual time. We do need to establish what we think is a good use of our time , money and devices. Year 8s, for instance, are always very excited to download a French dictionary onto their iPhone or iPod Touch and learn which ones are good. They ask to use their iPhone/iPod and it is something which makes them happy and aware of what are good applications and bad ones. There is no easy answer to this as the Digital Generation Gap quite rightly points out.

Miracle Workers

Taylor Mali is unashamedly a teacher and he does it well. He recreates so well the complexity of our job and he shows there is honour in it. I put up another one of his poems What Teachers Make here. From time to time we need to listen to people like Taylor Mali so that we remember we are doing something important, significant and utterly indescribable at times. We will carry on whether we get thanked or not, but , at last, our job is being recognised and described in a way that perhaps others can understand. We owe it to ourselves to be proud of what we do and know there is no better job than being a teacher in all its inspiration, complication and frustration.

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