I feel like a kid allowed to eat as much dessert as she wants - I get to post multple times today and no bloggy police are going to get me for it :)
Ahhh. Classroom management! I loooove talking about classroom management! I actually sort of pride myself on my management style. I've never had a serious incident in my classroom (although there were plenty of times the situation was potentially explosive!) and 99% of the time I can deal with things on my own without having to resort to the principal or counselor.
The secret? Water off a duck's back. Seriously. What I try to keep in mind, is that these little people are have baggage of their own that affects them. Some of them are going to have fits/tantrums/issues. It's my decision as to how I let that affect me. I've had teachers drag children into my room saying "You take him!" and I can certainly understand that sometimes children can push our buttons, but for the most part, we choose to let them push our buttons. So instead I make a conscious choice not to let it bother me.
Of course, there have to be rules and procedures in place so that the majority of those fits/tantrums/issues don't occur in the first place. When children know what is expected of them and know how you will behave, there are much fewer incidents. Children crave structure and consistency, and unless you give them that they will try to push the boundaries.
As Harry Wong says "Discipline has to do with how students behave. Management has to do with procedures and these procedures govern how students go about doing their work in the classroom."
Therefore, the first two weeks of school, I do nothing except teach procedures! Oh sure, I'm reading aloud, but that's just to teach the children how to sit at carpet and listen quietly. We might have a math lesson with manipulatives, but that's to teach the children how to use the maipulatives appropriately and how to clean them up afterwards. I also teach the procedures for:
asking a question
going to the bathroom
washing your hands
getting a drink
how to carry your lunch try
getting a tissue
sitting at carpet
sitting at your table
ets. etc. etc.!
Basically I try to think about it as though the students are little aliens who have never come to Earth before and have to be taught how to do EVERYTHING! If I teach (and reteach!) a procedure, I can expect a certain behavior from the students. If I don't teach that behavior specifically then how dare I assume that they are going to act the way I want them to?
One of the things I find helpful, is to write down each procedure - sticking to only the most basic steps and limiting each procedure to no more than 3-5 steps max. I can use this with my kiddos to help me be specific and to the point. I always model the correct AND incorrect procedure.
I even model the "kind of right" procedure. Do we want students to settle for being "kind of right"? Of course not. Yet often times when teaching procedures, we let students slide with getting "most of it" right. Well guess what? If they're only getting "most of it" now when you're specifically teaching the procedure, they're only going to practice about half of it the rest of the year!
So, teach and reteach each procedure until it's second nature to the students. Only when you've shown them exactly what they are supposed to DO, can you hold them accountable for their behavior. To help get you started, I've whipped up a mini powerpoint presentation with 10 of my procedures listed. I kept it in powerpoint so you can edit and add to it as needed. It's just a jumping off point :)
Just click on the picture to grab it for free!