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Management question

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Jannah Fitch Jannah Fitch 380 Points

As a student teacher, I'm working to develop my classroom management skills. I'm struggling frequently with effectively getting students' attention. One thing I do often is start to speak, realize I don't have everyone's attention and interrupt myself to pause for a second or two. I'll continue when I do have their attention. I'm not sure this is very effective. I certainly don't want to keep speaking and talk over students, but I feel like the importance of what I need to say is diminished by the interruption. Does anyone have better strategies for getting and holding student's attention? Also, I'm trying to develop and project my teacher voice, but I frequently feel like I don't know the line between teacher voice and yelling.

Paola Hernandez Paola Hernandez 1885 Points

In the school where I'm student teaching the quiet signal is a raised hand, this does nothing for me because most of the time the students are not looking at me and it takes longer to quiet them down. Some suggestions I have tried are to call their school mascot name and have the students respond ready. This is something that needs to be taught and practiced with the class. Because it is new they have to get used to knowing that when they say ready it means stop what you are doing, look at the teacher, and listen to what is coming.

Neville Beckford Neville Beckford 2155 Points

I totally understand your situation you must be teaching eight or nine graders; I stand at the door and while greeting them i remind them of what is expected. As the soon as the tardy bell rings i walk to the middle of the class and they see me, I demand their attention. A few would still be talking then i would firmly say "we are still waiting on a few individuals" generally that does it. I have seen some teachers use signs and sounds to get students attention especially with the younger ones.

Tory Addison Tory Addison 5745 Points

I teach self-contained (some low students some high but with bad behaviors inside the classroom - but not with me for some reason???). A way that I get and keep attention is to first raise my hand, then start counting from 5, once I reach 0 if I don't have everyone quiet - I give out something simple (a tootsie roll- piece of hard candy- bonus point) to those that have gotten quiet. As I go through the lesson I do random sticks and hand out sheets of paper with points on them for the students who have a passing grade can visit my bucket (I have candy, chips, happy meal toys my own kids didn't want, etc inside) those who don't can use the points for bonus. This has helped a ton! Good luck!

Tina Harris Tina Harris 65915 Points

Many teachers use a signal to get student attention when they start or mid-way when they need it. Different teachers use different signals. [list] One teacher I know uses chimes. Another uses hand-claps - she claps a pattern and students repeat it, then she does this again in a different beat until all students are participating (and therefore paying attention). I use a "stop sign" - a yellow piece of paper (that says "Quiet please") and on the back a red paper (that says "Quiet NOW!) - I simply point to the yellow one or hold it up and the students nudge each other to get their friends on board. You can come up with your own unique signal (one year I had a phaser sound box I used! I "shot" the phaser noise towards the loudest students, they would laugh and quiet down). [/list] Tokens can work (like candy), but when you have a lot of students all day (I usually have about 155 in my gradebook) they can get expensive and I would save them for special occasions. An alternative, which I think Tory also mentioned is to give them coupons/points/class money for good behavior that can be traded in for various things (5 for trip to restroom or a pencil or a piece of paper, 10 for folder or candy or a late homework pass, whatever). You would want to design these so they cannot be forged/counterfeited (there is always that one enterprising student....). OR have one page and use a stamper. Just walk around the room while you are teaching/talking and drop them off on the desks or stamp the pages of students who are behaving appropriately after you have explained what they are and how they can be used. Don't discuss it, just do it. None of these require raising your voice - which for students is like blood to a shark! I would start with a signal (maybe reinforce it the first time with treats) and remember to use it consistently to quiet down the class so you can talk. If that doesn't work, try something else. And remember, there will also have to be consequences for student who refuse to behave appropriately. You might check out [url=http://learningcenter.nsta.org/share.aspx?id=vcMzN3QByJ]this collection[/url] for additional ideas. I am sure others have additional signals or ideas that they use to share here!

Jannah Fitch Jannah Fitch 380 Points

Thanks Tory and Tina. I had a discussion with the two most difficult periods last week about using signals and getting their attention. I think my biggest mistake was just not clearly establishing my expectations for getting their attention. I'm still working on using wait time better when getting attention.

Carolyn Mohr Carolyn Mohr 89803 Points

Hi Jannah, Don't underestimate the power of making those positive phone calls. If parents have heard from you before their children get "in trouble", they are more receptive and willing to reinforce what you do in class when you have to call them about misbehavior. Also, show you mean business with appropriate consequences for misbehaviors. Perhaps you will have students stay after school with you to make up wasted time. You would need to pick your "battles" carefully. For example, if you set the rule that the next person to be disruptive will receive a parent call home and have to stay after with you, then you need to follow through. Make the consequences appropriate for the misbehavior, be consistent, and share your concerns with your superior to make sure you have his/her support. In the collection Tina shared with you, there are a couple of book chapters with some great ideas. The first one called "Classroom Management" and the one called "Doing Good Science: Classroom Management and Safety". Good luck and do let us all know how you are doing and how else we might be of help. Carolyn

Brian Yamamura Brian Yamamura 7410 Points

Hi Jannah, The fact you are here asking for suggestions is such a positive step for a student teacher which I know is never an easy process at the beginning. For sure, you will eventually find what techniques work best for you and how clearly the students understand your expectations. Just remember too that so much also depends on intangibles such as your body language, voice tone and pitch and the particular age and mix of students. These are all aspects to consider although some things are obviously out of your control. With that said, I find that use of wait time is most effective for myself but you might also consider proximity. This can be combined with the waiting but just involves moving closer to the students who are still not paying attention. I like this because it also forces me to move around the class more which I prefer to do even when lecturing as it tends to raise the level of attentiveness of those students who like to hide in the back. I also don't know how things work in your district in terms of student teaching and privacy policies but one thing I found useful (and also benefit from once in a while even now) is when my class is videotaped and I watch myself later. Of course at the beginning, the camera can distract the students but usually that effect is short-lived. I have had my supervising teacher do the recording or even just had a camera setup and left in the room ("to record other presentations"). After it became a regular fixture in the class, I would turn it on sometimes (tape over the recording light helps) so I could get a different perspective of my class and my teaching. And this should also provide you with information concerning the issue of your teacher voice. Anyway, hope this is somewhat useful and good luck with your teaching!

Mary Bigelow Mary Bigelow 10265 Points

I'm curious as to how the term "wait tme" is being used in this discussion. Does it mean that you're waiting until you have students' attention before continuing the lesson?

Wait Time is also a specific technique (as described by Mary Budd Rowe) to foster higher-level thinking in student responses. After posing a question that requires thinking as opposed to rote memory, the teacher pauses for a few seconds to give students time to think before calling on a student. The teacher can also pause after the response before commenting to give students time to add to the response. This is a very powerful classroom strategy to get students thinking at a higher level. I'd be glad to share more!

Sarah Kim Sarah Kim 1415 Points

Intermittent positive reinforcements are really effective in long-term behavior changes. I suggest implementing these in your classroom and using that as a tool to gain student participation. Positive reinforcements for students who are ready for learning will facilitate every one else's cooperation.

Belinda Perez Belinda Perez 1000 Points

I am also a student teacher. This semester, I have had the opportunity to teach in a middle school READ180 resource classroom. Although the class size is small, I too have a lot of problems with disruptions and behavior. I think part of the solution is to get to know your students. If you build a personal relationship with them, they will trust you and respect you to some extent. I have found that giving those students positive attention sometimes helps with the disruption. Give students jobs, redirect them quietly, sometimes a small tap on the shoulder will allow them to redirect their own behavior without having to stop your instruction.

Melissa Kennedy Melissa Kennedy 720 Points

I agree with what someone said about greeting them at the door. On days where I greet them versus days I don't I can tell a difference. I also use a call back method to get attention. I like the mascot one someone said earlier. I have also seen a teacher say class and they respond yes. You can also try fun ones like you say RED ROBIN and they respond YUM! But this has to be practiced. Younger age groups like stuff like if you can hear me touch your nose, and then continue to say that with different body parts until everyone is silent.

Sha' Antoinette Price Sha' Price 4615 Points

At my placement, the school has a universal strategy to catch students' attention. Teachers raise their hand and simply tell students to give them five. This almost always results in students stopping what they are doing to listen to the teacher. I would also praise students for doing the correct thing. If I notice most students are off-task, I acknowledge the students who are following directions. Within seconds of doing this, students who were previously off-task, begin to do what is expected of them.

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