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September 1, 2018
Vol. 76
No. 1

Tell Me About

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Classroom Management

Being Care-Full

As a super-shy youngster, I often felt invisible at school. A straight-A student, I was considered low-maintenance, and few teachers knew more than my name and birthday. When I started teaching, I made it a goal to appreciate students for their special gifts and talents. Just knowing that someone cares can make a huge difference, not only in learning but also in life.
I have an electronic file for each student where I keep notes about their interests, successes, and goals. I also place important dates (such as band tryouts, tournaments, and medical procedures) on an electronic calendar and make it a point to follow up. Being real and caring are keys to success in the classroom and can be life-changing for students. Caring leads to respect. Respect leads to good classroom management.
—Heidy Brosofsky-Weaver, high school earth/space science instructor, Florida Virtual School, Saint Johns, Florida

Lead with Happy

The most surprising, yet one of the most powerful ways to get your class happy, is actually very simple: Seat a few happy students right in the center of your classroom. Every class has a different personality, and students take on each other's energy. You can actually decide on which student you want to lead the class with a purposeful seating chart. I suggest having a seating chart done by Day 3 of the first week of school. You want the students who smile, respect and help others with their words and actions, and eagerly raise their hands to become the natural leaders in each class. I can usually spot them on Day 2. I'll stick one happy student dead center and then one also in back. This keeps the class happy all around.
—Serena Pariser, author, San Diego, California

Phone Home with Good News

I ask students for the name and phone number of someone I can call to talk about how wonderful they are when they are with me. And then I follow through. Some give me names and numbers for two significant contacts, and I call both. I then follow up with the student to tell them how I enjoyed talking about them in that light.
—Kathy Flynn-Somerville, teacher on special assignment, Pittsburgh Public Schools, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Give All Students a Voice

Pear Deck is an interactive-presentation application that gives me the ability to engage each student in my classroom, as well as to track analytics that provide a snapshot of class trends and indicators to target individual student needs. In using Pear Deck, I can give the quiet students and the louder students equal voice. In a traditional classroom discussion, students are called on or raise their hands to respond. Some students are naturally shy and less likely to speak up, and other students need more time to process. Not only does Pear Deck eliminate these issues, but it requires each individual to actively participate, form an opinion, and submit a response. Since answers are anonymous to the group, Pear Deck creates a safe space for each student to honestly respond and make mistakes. When I look at my teacher dashboard, I can see what students are contributing to monitor individual needs. This instantaneous breakdown of responses drives full classroom discussion and helps inform me which individuals I should turn my attention to first.
—Stacey Roshan, Upper School technology coordinator and math teacher, Bullis School, Potomac, Maryland

Respect and Learn

My best kept classroom management secret is to respect the students first and keep them engaged. If a student is having challenges, I ask them why or what is causing the behavior (privately of course). Teachers who listen to their students instead of immediately punishing them for unwanted behavior will have a better-managed classroom.
I also use Twitter to engage with the community and discover the latest research on managing students. I listen to podcasts on education on my commute, which keeps me informed of new things to try. The latest podcast tip I can't wait to try is to let students finish this statement (written on the board) "I wish my teacher knew …"
—Krista Ryan, teacher, Atlantic Shores Christian School, Virginia Beach, Virginia

Admit Your Mistakes

Vulnerability. I say I'm sorry when I am wrong—not just when a student points it out, but each time I realize my mistakes. It allows my students to see that I am a real human being and helps me to undo some of the conditioning in their heads about teachers. It also makes me a better person, and hence a better teacher.
—Aishwarya M, English teacher, Avasara Academy, India

Find Fun in the Routine

Collaboratively create structures and routines with your students so they will eventually manage themselves. Use music to signal common activities: morning song, working music, or pack-up song. Expect the best out of your class and treat everyone with dignity and respect. When guidelines are not followed, use it as a teachable moment, not a reason for punishment.
—Kirsten Hund, program director, The Holdsworth Center, Austin, Texas

It's About Relationships

Teenagers don't naturally give blind trust to anyone. They've grown up in a world learning to question everything, from their own safety in their schools to the ethics and the practices of some of the world's prominent adult leaders. Though it seems obvious, just building trusting relationships with the students in your class is the best-kept management secret out there.
Taking the time to know the interests of my students always helps me manage student behaviors and positively impact their achievement. Saying you'll be somewhere and showing up is what it's all about. Students need to trust that you care about them as people. That trust is often enough to encourage them to be actively engaged in school activities and ultimately, to want to learn from you.
—Laura Louko, assistant principal, Abington High School, Abington, Massachusetts

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