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Sunday, October 21, 2007

Classroom management? What's that?

Last week, I somehow seemed to have lost all control of the children.

I literally felt like nothing got accomplished at all on any of the 5 afternoons of the week. In the mornings, a little bit got done, but in the afternoons I couldn't figure out how to get the kids' attention.

The thing is, I don't expect them to listen for long - I just need them to listen for 3-5 minutes so that I can give instructions. They can't read, so I need to tell them and show them pictures about what we are going to do. But, even when we were doing really neat hand-on activities, I just could not find a way to be more interesting to them than their classmates.

I have a handful of strategies that I use to try to redirect attention. I do hand clapping patterns, I "count eyes" (also teaches them how to count by 2s), I make the school hand-signal that is used to mean "eyes up here, listen to the teacher" to name just a few. I can't seem to make any of them work. Or rather, the students do clap my pattern, look up at me, or give me the hand signal. It's just that they simultaneously chat with friends.

When I try to talk it through with my CT, she points out that it's not just the kids fault - it may have something to do with my teaching. Which, yeah, I know - that's what I'm trying to tell her. I'm certainly not blaming it all on the kids. I need some suggestions on what I can do in regards to my classroom management and teaching to get the kids to pay attention to me (or their peers, if their peers are talking/helping me teach).

I don't want to be out of ideas, but I really don't know what else to do. I hate keeping kids in for recess, because I think they need the outside running around/chatting/shouting time if I'm going to have any hope of them calming down during class time. For that reasons, I don't really keep kids in from recess. But, should I? Will they know I'm serious if I keep them in? I don't know.

More then being frustrated, I just feel guilty. I'm not teaching them anything! We went through a whole week with very little learning to show for it. I got through very few of the activities I actually had planned. And while it's good that I over-plan so there always are activities to do, I actually want to do some of those activities.

Maybe the kids were extra squirrelly last week. I'm trying to re-vamp my teaching this weekend, but I don't know that I've made enough changes to really have an impact on anything. We'll see, vamos a ver. I just really hope I'm able to connect better this week.


Blogger jfccrunner said...

Hi there!
I student taught last semester and I found that classroom management was ALWAYS my biggest challenge. I'm sure your CT has given you some advice, and you may have already tried this, but I discovered that just stopping whatever we were doing and simply waiting for my students to stop talking works. I initially would try to keep talking over them, or use different techniques to quiet them down, but my CT suggested just stopping talking and sitting and waiting. would simply tell the students, "I'm waiting." At first, I had to wait a while for them to stop talking, but then it got much better because they realized I was serious. This may or may not work out for you, but I thought I'd at least suggest it! Good Luck:)

1:20 PM  
Anonymous Not Quite Grown Up said...

I have tried the stopping and waiting technique. They simply find themselves to be too fascinating to realize that I am waiting for them to stop talking. Some kids do realize, and try to "shhh" the others. But they never really quiet down.

I don't know, I don't know.

6:31 PM  
Blogger Mimi said...

Ok...student teaching is so hard by the way, so don't get discouraged.

Here are some ideas for what they're worth. I agree that taking away recess blows. I always err toward something positive for those friends who have it together.

Do the kids sit at tables? With names? You could start a quick chart on the board and just tally each time a team is the first to REALLY quiet down and listen. Then, maybe they could earn a morning and/or afternoon snack to munch on while they work. Nothing serious, just like some goldfish or something. It sounds a bit pavlovian, but it works.

I have each child's name on a clothespin on the "stoplight" ...have you heard of that? I move their names up and down all day on a chart...there are punishments and rewards depending on where they land each day. If I were you, I'd spend time moving names before I go on with my directions, it might be time consuming, but it's worth it in the long run.

Good luck!

7:19 PM  

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