Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Fifty Lessons You May Have Learned This Year

1. If you’ll just listen to your students before taking action, you will avoid having to backtrack on many decisions that you had convinced yourself were sound ones.
2. Reinforcing good behavior is much more fun than punishing bad behaviors.
3. Parents are serious when they tell you that they would rather hear about a problem when it is small and solvable instead of a major headache. Don’t hesitate to call home. Do it early. Do it often.
4. It is crucial that you teach students how to do their work. They can’t learn study skills without guidance.
5. Asking students to tell you what they have learned from a lesson is more likely to elicit enduring knowledge than if you tell them what you think they should have learned.
6. Passing out materials can take forever and be a huge hassle until you figure out how to do it efficiently.
7. If a child misbehaves, sometimes all you have to do is move that student to another seat.
8. You have to give a rubric when actually making an assignment for it to be effective in guiding students as they make choices about their work.
9. It is always wise to think before you speak and to think again before you act.
10. Every now and then you should reexamine your classroom rules and procedures. Are they still working for you and your students?
11. Few students can succeed without your high expectations. You will get what you expect, so you may as well aim high.
12. Open-ended questions can be loads of fun for everyone in the class—including the teacher.
13. If you want to take a new approach to a topic under study, you can change the process or the product or both.
14. Document, document, document. Even the stuff that you think you will never need has a way of becoming necessary later.
15. Deeper understandings usually take longer to acquire. You can’t rush substance.
16. It’s important to laugh with your students.
17. Students will beg all week for free time and as soon as they have some, announce that they are bored.
18. Even young students need to be reminded of their future goals so that they will stay on task.
19. Learned helplessness is not an easy attitude to combat. It takes patience and determination and lots of time to undo its stubborn comfort. Be persistent. It’s worth the effort.
20. The worst behaved child in your class deserves your best efforts.
21. Determining the appropriate level of challenge in an assignment takes lots of practice.
22. Ask students to focus on essential questions and you will reap unexpected rewards.
23. Take a problem solving approach to discipline issues and you will be closer to having command of a situation.
24. The paperwork load at the end of the school year is truly staggering. Take it one page at a time.
25. Appealing to your students’ different learning styles can stretch a lesson to unforeseen depths.
26. For most students to consider work meaningful, they need to know how they can benefit from it right now.
27. For some students, a teacher is the lifeline to a world of possibility.
28. Students have a keen sense of fair play. They have an even keener awareness of unfair play.
29. Being positive about your school, your colleagues, your students, your classroom, and your workload beats being negative any day of the week.
30. Don’t hesitate to give a student a second chance. And hope for one in return.
31. When things are tough, remind yourself that what is bothering you probably won’t matter a year from now.
32. Who you are is more important to a child than what you say.
33. Three days is the absolute longest that a set of papers should remain ungraded and unreturned.
34. Teach tolerance every day. It takes a thousand small steps, but eventually they will add up.
35. Once that excited hum of busy students fills a classroom, you will find it easier to get out of bed and come back to school the next day.
36. Always have a backup plan. Your probably need a backup plan for your backup plan. Actually, having a file of backup plans is a great idea.
37. Teachers have to choose to do what’s best for their students, not what’s easiest.
38. Respect comes from the many small things you do in the classroom every day.
39. Teach your students an important life skill: to clean up after themselves every day.
40. Students need to be taught listening skills. Just a few minutes every day will make a big difference.
41. Sarcasm is an unfair weapon to use against a child.
42. Active learners rarely have time to complain.
43. No single approach holds all the answers. It takes a multifaceted methodology to reach every child every day.
44. If you smile at a child who is getting ready to misbehave, you will often confuse that child into good behavior instead.
45. Teaching, in order to be successful, must be a purposeful activity.
46. If you want to reduce discipline issues, connect with your students. If you want to connect with your students, listen more than you speak.
47. You have to create a reasonable policy about how and when students are allowed to leave the room and stick to it.
48. Teachers who can learn to accept constructive criticism gracefully--no matter who gives it--will avoid burnout.
49. Setting group goals is an excellent way to have students figure out how to work well together.
50. The ability to see the future in the face of a child is the sustaining hallmark of a great teacher.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Tracking Behavior Interventions for a Difficult Class

Behavior Interventions for a Difficult Class
Difficult classes come in all types--the one where students come in after lunch wild from running through the halls, the one where students want to pack up early and never, ever do any work, the one where student punch each other when you are not looking, and the one where students shout out inane words in an effort to annoy each other and you. The list could be endless. Sigh.
When confronted with a difficult class, there are lots of viable options to take to help them learn to control themselves. One action that you can take is to be as systematic as possible in your approach. Here is a little form to help you do just that.
Behavior Interventions for a Difficult Class
Period__________ Major Concerns________________________________________________________
Level of Success
 1: Not successful             2: Somewhat successful  but needs modification                  3: Successful      
Date of Intervention
Level of Success
Recorded or videoed self to determine how I could be contributing to the problem
Asked a colleague to observe the class and provide feedback
Analyzed the time use by students at the start of class, during various activities, and at the end of class
Made sure that expectations are clearly expressed in several modalities and taught to students
Made sure that procedures for all activities are in place and known to students
Made sure that students are aware of the class rules and the positive consequences for following rules as well as the negative consequences for disregarding rules
Held individual conferences with key students
Held a brief conference with entire class to solicit their suggestions
Used exit tickets or other written formats to elicit student suggestions
Adjusted the pace and types of instruction
Increased student choices or options for instructional activities
Praised positive behavior of entire class
Gave class positive labels to use to identify themselves
Mad their successes as concrete and visible as possible
Involved other staff members in creating solutions
Involved the parents or guardians of students in creating solutions
Shared a pleasant activity together to build a sense of community
Made sure everyone has access to materials and supplies
Worked with individual students to set and achieve goals
Worked with entire class to set and achieve group goals
Made sure that the level of work is neither too easy or too difficult so that students will find it easy to stay on task
Used all available class time in a productive way
Offered a variety of relevant learning activities including games and technology based instruction
Taught students a courteous way to respond or to behave
Included motivational activities in the lesson to increase engagement
Provided opportunities for students to be in the spotlight for positive reasons
Established signals for students to indicate that they need help
Involved students in as many helpful roles in the classroom as possible
Established ways for students to help each other in productive ways
Offered a combination of tangible and intangible rewards
Taught students how to modulate their noise levels
Made it obvious that the purpose of class is to learn and not to misbehave
Posed encouraging mottoes to remind students to stay focused
Allowed students to redo a failed assignment for credit so that they have a reason to continue to work
Communicated a strong belief in the ability that students have to succeed
Established predictable routines so that students know what to do
Provided different role models and mentors for students
Appealed to a variety of learning styles in each lesson
Established a time-out area in another area of the school so that students can gain self-control
Gave a student a second chance
Made sure the lesson was as exciting as possible
Gave written and verbal directions that are easy for students to follow
Made sure the traffic flow of the class is conducive to on-task behavior
Offered frequent checks for understanding to reduce frustration
Involved students’ interests in the lesson
Acknowledged student effort
Ignored as much bad behavior as was possible and prudent
Asked students to help teach a lesson
Varied instructional activities so that students could interact as well as work independently
Kept expectations for academic and behavioral success high