Monthly Archives: October 2011

My Classroom Management in a Nutshell

The great American Benjamin Franklin once said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” This is true in many different areas of life, but is especially important in education. At first when thinking about it, I thought that it was referring to the daily schedule or curriculum, but it is so much more than that. I decided to apply it to as many areas as I could and one area that made a difference for me was in my approach to classroom management.

We need a discipline plan. It is that simple. Without it we will not be as effective and our students will not achieve as much. My plan is easy to understand and realistic.

  1. I have some rules
  2. Something happens when you choose to not follow a rule
  3. Something happens when you do choose to follow a rule
That’s it! It follows the basic idea of Rules, Consequences and Rewards. Once this was developed, I had the task of deciding how I would let them know that they violated a rule. I have tried to keep my classroom as real life as possible and chose to model the violation notification after the speeding ticket. Why? Because it’s familiar, especially for teenagers who are looking forward to driving. So, when they choose to not follow a rule, I give them a ticket. It’s a 3 inch square of red paper that fits in my pocket. On the ticket I have three words: Name, Date, and Rule. I carry about 5 of them in pocket at all times so I am prepared for when the students choose to break a rule. As soon as they break a rule, I respond with something that shows empathy. For example, “Ooh. That just stinks.” I lay the ticket on their desk, tell them the rule they broke, give the student some space by moving away, and then immediately get back into instruction. The whole incident takes about 5 seconds and there really is no pain. They usually know what they did and just start filling out the ticket right away.
When I was developing a consequence, I just thought of something that the students really love and took it away. For many teenagers, this is lunch time. When they are the last person in line for lunch it sends them a message. When they can’t ride with their friends to go out to eat, it sends them a message. So far, it has worked really well. And the atmosphere in my classes is quite pleasant. Below is my Discipline Plan.

Discipline Plan for Spanish

Classroom Rules

  1. Respect the people, equipment, and furnishings of our class.
  2. Follow instructions immediately.
  3. Don’t cause a problem for someone else.

If You Choose To Break a Rule

Phase 1:                       We’ll talk about it.

Phase 2:                       5 minutes at the beginning of Lunch Time.

Phase 3:                       10 minutes at the beginning of Lunch Time.

Phase 4:                       We’ll have a conference where you will develop an action plan.

Severe Disruptions:     Student sent immediately to the office and we’ll have a conference where you will develop an action plan.

If a student chooses to miss his or her scheduled consequence, it will immediately be turned over to the Principal.

Possible Rewards

  • Verbal Encouragement
  • Phone call home bragging about how awesome the student is
  • Extra Credit
  • Unexpected Candy
  • Various other perks
A side note to language educators is that we also have the problem of students speaking English in class. If students continually do this, it gets in the way of acquiring the language. I use the Págame system. [págame means pay me] Here is the nutshell.
  • When we’re going into a time of Spanish, I say “Español por favor.” [Spanish please]
  • If a students really needs to speak English, they raise their hand and when I call on them they say, “¿Inglés por favor?” [English please]. If I nod yes, they say it. If I say no, they have to wait for another time.
  • If a students speaks English without asking for permission, I may give them págame. I do this in a light-hearted way. It has to be like a game and not a punishment. If it is a punishment, it causes damage to your classroom atmosphere and students feel like they are getting yelled at. If it’s a game, it becomes more of a challenge to not get a penalty. Kind of like not getting called for holding in football. I may do a video on this to show the difference.
  • After I give them a págame, a student in the class records it on a designated piece of paper. This frees me from any administrative duties and I can just relax. Plus the student likes the responsibility and power to keep track of the class. I choose this person wisely. Usually a quiet person that doesn’t like to act.
  • This keeps the English out and Spanish in. We have a lot more focus and more gets accomplished. Also the students practice more control.
Both of these plans have made my life so much easier because I have something to fall back on when a problem arises. It allows me to have high expectations for our class. Most of all, it allows there to be justice in our class. So often I feel like kids say things in class that are hurtful or don’t belong in our learning environment and nothing happens. Now, something happens and I have seen changes in behavior. It frees me up to be creative and have fun.

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Routines and Procedures

This year I have really taken the idea of Routines and Procedures quite seriously. I wanted to see if it really made a difference. So far, for me, it has made an incredible difference in the achievement of my students. It has also made a difference for me. I decided to take the concept one step further and assign myself Routines and Procedures. I thought to myself, “If this works for the students, why can’t it work for me?” So here and there I decided to think of ways that I could make my day more efficient. It has not only made my day more efficient, it has made the day go by faster and less stressful.

Here are a few of the Procedures and Routines that I have assigned myself.

Before School 

  • Organize the Desks
  • Write the Daily Schedule on the Board
  • Write the Bell Work
  • Take out the box of folders for Period 1 and place it on the cart by the door
  • Before I open the door to let students in, I look at the Daily Schedule and make sure that everything is prepared for each item.

During Class

  • I greet each student as they get their folder. Sometimes I hand them a piece of paper with the Bell Work on it or I hand them a graded assignment.
  • Help students stay on track by saying, “Get to work.”
  • When everyone is in their seats working, I close the door and say, “Buenos días, clase.”
  • During the 3 minutes of silent work time, I take attendance and enter in grades for that particular class on my iPad.
  • Then I mention the agenda for the day, we finish grading the Bell Work, and go through the agenda one by one.
  • At the end of class, the students put their folders away, I put their class box on the shelf and get out the next classes box.
  • I dismiss the students, not the bell.
As I was thinking about this routine, it first sounded really OCD. I continually asked myself if this was necessary. But it has made my life so much easier and stress free. I actually have more free time after school and usually get home by 4:15 – which is pretty good because I have a 25 mile commute. I can spend more time with my family and I am happier. Procedures and Routines have much needed order to my life and I hope that my students benefit from it as much as I have. So far, they have really embraced it and look forward to coming to class. I enjoy greeting them when they enter and seeing that we are forming a healthy working relationship. I am excited to see what the year will look like at the end.

Upcoming article Next week…

My Discipline Plan in a Nutshell

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