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Posts Tagged ‘Classroom management strategies’

My World Famous Teaching Brain Fart

August 12, 2019

You know those times when you think you have worked out the solution to a nagging problem?

You think you are a genius. If only everyone was as creative as you.

But then you discover that there is a great reason why no one else would tackle the problem the way you did – because it is a horrible solution, one that will end up biting you on the proverbial.

And that’s exactly what happened to me.

My students, like every other kid their age, have no control over their bowels. Farts are a common fixture of my classroom. One fart I can tolerate. Two is unlucky. Then there are those days where the farts roll along in a continuous tirade. Death by a thousand squeaks.

Worse than the smell, is the ensuing laughter and embarrassment from the custodian of the said fart. And then there’s the sweater over the nose ritual and the exaggerated, “that stinks something awful!” It is a very disruptive force for the the teacher and it is very hard to get the kids back on task.

The worst are the quiet ones.  That’s when the self-appointed CSI forensic squad feel they have to investigate the owner of the smell and lay as much blame as possible. This turns into Law and Order as the accused always denies the claims and calls for a lie detector to back them up. This scene always finishes in tears.

After a number of these incidents in the one calendar year, I had reached the end of my tether. I couldn’t do it anymore. It was time to take control.

So I did.

Kind of …

I told my students that passing wind is normal and natural and everyone does it. I advised them that this shouldn’t be disrupting class and that the investigations were unnecessary. I suggested that from now on, whenever someone farted they could just blame it on me. They can pretend I did it and have a small chuckle at my expense. They all liked the idea.

This wasn’t an easy thing for me to try. There are 2 nightmare scenarios I have in teaching. I am not in the least bit embarrassed about making a spelling mistake or mucking up a math sum in front of the students. It doesn’t worry me if I can’t answer a student’s question. The only two things that would cause me immense shame is farting or vomiting in front of my class.  But I was desperate and was prepared to give it a go.

And what would you know, it worked like a charm. A kid would let one go and they would all turn to me and say “Mr. G! You did it!”

Then they would quickly calm down, no formal investigation, no feelings hurt and carry on with the lesson.

How could this brilliant idea go wrong?

A few months later, my class, together with a number of other classes and their teachers met in the music room for a meditation lesson conducted by a visiting expert. I was impressed how well the instructor got the kids quiet and they seemed to be following her directions without cynicism or immaturity.

The room was completely silent. That was, until one child let the trumpet out of the bag.

Without hesitation, my class turned to me in front of a number of my colleagues and half the primary school and shouted. “That was Mr. G! Mr. G farted!”

All I could do was squirm in my seat. Red as a beetroot.

From then on, I happily allowed my students to blame each other all they wanted for any farts that surfaced. Go for your life. I am staying out of it!

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The Questions that Great Teachers Ask Every Day

December 11, 2014

question

Courtesy of the wonderful Mark Barnes. I particularly like question 3:

 

1-What if my homework assignments are a waste of time?

Facebook is rife with parent complaints about homework. There are numerous Facebook pages and groups dedicated to abolishing the horrible homework practices that contribute nothing to learning and ignite a hatred of school in many children. Here is one example of traditional homework that a friend recently posted; oh, it’s worth noting that this homework was for a seven-year-old:

Tuesday homework: 1. Math worksheet 2. Read aloud 1 page story, answer 3 comprehension questions and have it signed 3. Put 14 spelling words in ABC order 4. Sort all spelling words by noun, verb, adjective, or “other” 5. Pick a word from each category and write a sentence, underlining the spelling words 6. Read 26 page storybook aloud, have sheet signed 7. “Optional homework” read silently for 20 minutes.

Great teachers recognize that burying a second grader in piles of senseless homework serves no purpose. Spelling homework is one of the biggest wastes of time in the history of bad homework. The only useful part of the above assignment is the optional part–voluntary reading. This homework assignment is a crutch for either an ill-prepared newbie or a tired veteran who lives in a that’s-the-way-I’ve-always-done-it world.

2-What if my students use mobile devices?

A fantastic, fearless teacher understands that learning simply can’t be measured.

Today’s classrooms are filled with iStudents. Kids who come to school with billions of resources in the palms of their hands, only to be told by teachers and school administrators to leave these powerful assets in their lockers or, worse, at home. Great teachers realize that we live in the digital age, and they are not threatened by the idea that students can become amazing independent learners, using mobile learning devices, web tools and social media. The best teachers realize that embracing mobile learning is the future of education.

3-What if my planned class activity is boring?

Far too many teachers rely on ancient textbooks, dusty worksheets, canned lectures, and last year’s multiple choice tests as their go-to teaching tools. “Kids need discipline, and learning doesn’t have to be fun,” they argue. Great teachers, though, say “Learning should always be fun.” Great teachers envision lessons and class activities and say, “If it isn’t going to be engaging and fun,” I’m throwing it out.

4-What if my room is noisy and chaotic?

A teacher walked into my classroom one day and said, “Wow! It’s kind of crazy in here.” When I informed her that we liked it this way, she shrugged, shook her head and quickly disappeared. For a very long time, my classroom was quiet and orderly. Students wouldn’t dream of leaving their seats without permission, and most would consider peeing their pants before asking me for a bathroom break. Fear and control were the order of the day, and learning was at best a rumor. After one amazing summer of change, I rebuilt my attitude and my classroom. Students worked collaboratively, moved about freely, talked openly, laughed, jumped, shouted and, best of all, had fun. Show me a silent room, and I’m betting it’s a place that is bereft of real learning.

5-What if I don’t grade this?

The thought of a class without traditional grades makes many teachers shudder and scoff. A fantastic, fearless teacher understands that learning simply can’t be measured. It’s impossible to effectively assess with numbers, percentages and letters. The best teachers give their students objective feedback. They observe and ask questions; they provide alternatives. Most important, they encourage students to revisit prior learning and rework activities in an effort to achieve mastery. The best teachers help kids understand that failure is necessary and should never be punished with a low mark.

6-What if the Common Core is just another bad idea concocted by bureaucrats?

Even if they think the Common Core might be a good thing (there’s no evidence right now that it is), the best teachers question Common Core State Standards and high stakes testing every day of their lives. Great teachers may see how the Common Core can be successfully integrated into some classes, but they always wonder if their own standards and learning outcomes that their students want are the best standards for our children. The best teachers know how to teach. They don’t need a prescription dreamed up by nonprofits to tell them what is right for their students.

 

Click on the link to read Learning as an Experience

Click on the link to read I Love it When Teachers are Excited to Come to Work

Click on the link to read Every Science Teacher’s Worst Nightmare (Video)

Useful Resources to Assist in Behavioural Management

September 4, 2012

A compilation of behavioural management links by the team at The Guardian:

Positive ways to manage behaviour provides a range of techniques from the training organisation Pivotal Education. These include establishing explicit rules and routines, providing students with clear choices regarding their behaviour and starting each day with a clean sheet.

Further advice on some of the most common behaviour problems is contained in Classroom management strategies. Areas covered include dealing with pupils who are defiant, use abusive language, refuse to work or make silly noises in class. The resource highlights “needs-focused interventions”, such as “chunking” tasks to make them more manageable, taking time over your classroom seating plan and encouraging parental involvement. Strategies to avoid include giving ultimatums or tactically ignoring disruptive pupils.

Coping Strategies for Teachers contains tips on preventing, reducing and managing unacceptable behaviour. Ideas include having a challenge on the board for pupils to complete as they arrive in class, giving responsibility to students for activities such as taking the register, and keeping a behaviour file to record any incidents, meetings or contact with parents.

To encourage positive behaviour in early years and primary, Twinkl has created a range of wall display resources. These include a set of posters about good listening and a Noisometer that you can use to set and monitor noise levels in the classroom. To help celebrate good behaviour, there is a set of star of the day and star of the week posters, and as an alternative to the traditional traffic light behaviour management resource, you can use a set of Behaviour Management Dragons to give warnings for misbehaviour in a calm, non-confrontational way.

For newly-qualified teachers, a list of 10 top tips has been created by assistant headteacher and mentor Eugene Spiers. Advice includes remembering to smile and greet your classes, even the groups you dread, being consistent with praise and sanctions and calling a selection of parents with good news every Friday. There is additional advice in the resource 10 top tips for NQTs.

On a lighter note, Five Minutes to a Calmer Classroom provides tips on using meditation in the classroom. It includes details of a simple breathing exercise that can be used to tackle stress and improve concentration.

And for anyone starting the new school year as a supply teacher, there is a list of top tips from primary teacher Colin Cartmell-Browne. Advice includes arriving as early as possible, making a note of the school timetable and discussing with other members of staff whether there are any pupils who will need additional support.

Click on the link to read The Dog Eat Dog Style of Education

Click on the link to read Problem Kids, Suspensions and Revolving Doors

Click on the link to read The Solution to the Disruptive Student Has Arrived: Body Language Classes

Click on the link to read When Something Doesn’t Work – Try Again Until it Does

 

 


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