Behaviour Management in the Classroom

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I have had many opportunities in my teaching career to apply many different types of behaviour management techniques and strategies.  Being on the occasional teaching list has helped me to become aware of when and where to apply these interesting and effective ways to keep behaviour to a minimum in my class.  That’s not saying that I have never experienced students behaving poorly.  What I am saying is that I have had some practice implementing different strategies and techniques in different situations within the classroom.

Every student is unique and may require a unique way of dealing with their behaviour.  This is where I feel that being a parent of more then one child gives you great background and experience on how each and every child is different and may require different ways to be understood.  Depending on the student and the situation is how I look at each situation on how I will approach it.  I am still fair and I do believe that the punishment should fit the crime, but it is the way we deliver that message that is the most important part for our students to know we care.

Some strategies and techniques that I have found work for me are;

  1. Fair but Firm, you can make exceptions at times but everyone should be treated fairly, and you need to stick to what you say no wishy washiness with your students.
  2. Strategically placing yourself around the classroom at specific times to prevent or stop behaviour.
  3. Discreetly talking to students out in the hall as to not draw attention to them or center them out.
  4. Students need to know your limits.  Establishing this early on is very important to the success of the classroom and also to other teachers that may be in your classroom.
  5. Be prepared, always know what you will be teaching or working on so students do not have the opportunity to act out or misbehave.
  6. Get to know your students, I find this one is so important.  By taking an interest in each and every student it shows the students you care, and they will gain great respect for you and you for them.
  7. Use humour in your day to day talk, students love funny things and will see you more like a person and not just a teacher.  It also grabs their attention when you are teaching a lesson.
  8. Listen to your students, this one can go a long way in many situations!  It may just give you the underlying reason why your student is acting out.
  9. Redirect when neccesary, try and keep track of who is off task and get their focus back but maybe asking them a wuestion about their work.  This may be your chance to see why they are off track in the first place, they may not understand the work being asked of them.
  10. Reward good behaviour, recognize students who are always doing good.  But also give credit to those who need to hear it when doing good even if it may be small.

I would love to hear more ideas of how you manage your classroom.  Please feel free to share or to add to my ideas.  All feedback is welcome!

Open Communication

Open Communication is sometimes the key to success with a number of my students.  I find that as the teacher, I need to connect with parents, other teachers, community agencies and the student to have a good understanding of each and every one of my students.

At the beginning of every semester I call ALL the parents of every student!  I introduce myself and let them know about our class website and how to access it, how to contact me with any questions or concerns and I ask questions at this point about any behaviour issues or concerns I have seen with the student at this point.  (I call within the first 2 weeks)  I also send home a “School and Home Communication” sheet that parents and guardians need to fill out and return to school.  This communication sheet tells me the best way for me to contact the parent and/or guardian, and it gives me all the important numbers or email addresses that I need from the parent to reach them if needed.

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When needed I touch base with other teachers and community agencies to discuss strategies that may work for them with the student or sometimes to find out more information about a student that will help me, help them learn.  Recently, I had a tutor of one of my students call me about what they could be working on with the student for science homework.  I found this to be very helpful for me, as well as the student, being able to let the tutor know what we were working on and helping the student to stay on top of things in the class.

During class time I like to have conferences with my students throughout the semester to keep track of any outstanding work and how students are feeling about my class.  This gives the students opportunities to touch base with me without looking like they may need extra help in front of their classmates.  We all know that looking cool is important…well to a teenager it is!  I want my students to know that they can email me at any time, drop in at lunch to ask questions, or just be able to approach me if needed.  I want to be approachable for my students and their families.

Another way that I keep communication going throughout the semester is to send emails out to parents when we are doing something exciting or even just a reminder about a field trip or a due date.  In my experience most parents are very receptive to this and appreciate me taking the time to keep them up to date.

I have found in the past that putting in a little extra time at the beginning (and it does take time!) makes the rest of the semester run so much smoother for everyone.  Parents know how to contact me directly, they know how to keep informed about their child’s work and it gives me a better understanding of each student and the support they have at home and within the community.  These simple strategies open the door to communication in my classroom so parents and students feel that they can come and talk to me and that my door of communication is always open!

Engaging Our Learners

How do we engage our youth of today?  What does it take to grab their attention and focus for more than 5 minutes?  Do WE as the teachers need to change our own practices and the way we plan lessons?  What is it going to take to get our students attention in this day and age???

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When I ask myself these questions, the first thing that comes to my mind is how can I structure the lessons and learning in my classroom so my students want to be involved.  Where do I start?  A recent experience I had in teaching made me realize that I need to create a “Growth Mindset” approach to my lessons, so every student feels that they are capable and can grow and learn in my classroom.  The tasks that I have my students participate in need to be meaningful and related to the “Real World”.  Students need to understand why we as teachers are teaching certain topics in subject areas.  Why do we need to know about ecology?  Why is it important to know about the food chain?  How does this affect me as a student?  These are types of questions that I actually got asked a number of times in different units in a recent teaching experience.  Our students need to know WHY we are teaching them specific topics.  We don’t just say the night before class…”Oh I think I might just want to do a lab on dissecting owl pellets tomorrow!”  Our students need to know the underlining reasons why we are focusing on dissecting owl pellets.  Why is it important for them to learn about this?  So #1 for me is make it real for them, connect the learning to real life!

When I look around at all the students in my class (I teach high school) majority of these students have some type of electronic device.  Now these things can be the biggest pain in your side as a teacher, and let me tell you I have had some large side pains from these devices!  I recently have realized that these devices are not going away.  No matter what we do to prevent them from coming into our classrooms, students will find a way to access them.  So as the saying goes, “If you can’t beat em’, join em’!”  I have begun to use these devices that cost our board literally nothing.  Nearly every student in every class I am in has a personal electronic device, and even if they don’t we have iPads, chrome books and laptops for those to use.  My thoughts on this is that since students have these devices and have a very difficult time staying off them, why don’t we incorporate these into our lessons.  I have given lessons where students are to do some of the research during the lecture and are to share their findings with the class.  I couldn’t believe the participation and enthusiasm in this when I asked students to do this.  They race off to try and find what we need to know and are enjoying it, but also using their electronic device in a positive way!  Wow!  This is a win win you would think.  If we are going to use these devices we still need to set down boundaries and rules with them so they are used appropriately in class.  So #2 for me is USE THEM, incorporate electronic devices into the learning. 

Another way to get students attention is to get to know them, try and understand where they are coming from, and really hear them, LISTEN!  Students want to be seen as individuals not as a group, so by getting to know them makes a big difference in the way they see me too, as their teacher.  Taking the time at the beginning of the semester and getting to know each individual student will show them you care and that you want them to be successful.  Finding out how each student will be more successful from them personally, will really show the students that you want to help in any way you can to help them achieve to the best of their ability.  Setting up one on one conferences just to chat about student progress and how they are feeling in my class is a strategy I have used for a number of years now.  This helps the students get to know me, and know that I am here to help them succeed and that I am cheering them on.  My goal is to create a positive atmosphere and show my students excitement and enthusiasm for what we are learning.  By creating positive relationships with my students will help us as a class to achieve this goal!  So #3 for me is taking the time to get to know each student.

I have had a class website for a while now but students don’t seem to be accessing it like I would like them too.  My idea is to get them to use it more and refer to it, and to use it daily in class time.  I want to connect our lessons to our website, make it interactive, and engaging so students can use their devices to access the website during class.  I want to be able to set up my class like a blended learning class, where some of our learning is done online on our website or a D2L where we have more options for online learning.  I want to make the D2L part super exciting and engaging so students want to log on and participate in the learning.  I am open to new ideas on this topic and how to make my classroom more engaging, if anyone has ideas that work for them I would love to hear them!  If you have any thoughts you would like to share about my post please feel free!

 

Watershed Moments

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In response to “Watershed Moments of Learning” shared by Dean Shareski. http://ideasandthoughts.org/2016/09/01/watershed-moments-of-learning/

When that light bulb comes on and you feel a rush of excitement over something that the majority of the population would look at you and say, “Really!”   Those are my “Watershed Moments of Learning, “and I love that feeling!  Those are the moments when I realize I am meant to be an educator and l love what I do.

PD/Conference

The most engaging PD that I have been involved in to date is the PLCs with the Social Science Department at a very engaging and wonderful high school, CASS.  These PLCs were very interactive and have given me the opportunity to gain hands on experience planning lessons for the LD learner with a group of teachers and administrators that I aspire to be like.  I have never had such an engaging and collaborative learning experience, where I came away from each session we had together as a better more competent teacher.  I can only hope that I will be able to become a part of this team once again and continue my learning involvement in these PLC sessions.

Presentation

The absolute most mind-blowing amazing presentation where everything made sense was when I had the honours of attending a presentation by Will Richardson in March of 2016 in Sault Ste. Marie.  He is a fantastic presenter and knows his stuff!  I felt so engaged in the presentation I wanted to run out in the middle of it and start incorporating everything he was saying in my science classroom.  But then I realized I wanted to hear the rest of the presentation!  Such a fantastic presenter, with even more fantastic ideas for us teachers to bring to our classrooms and make a real difference in learning.  Since then, I have started using some of his thoughts on 21st century learning and have begun to let the students take the wheel in their own learning.

Book:

The book I think that has given me great insight into becoming a better educator is “Mindsets in the Classroom, by Mary Cay Ricci.”  When I read this book I had a hard time putting it down, one of those good reads where you just want to keep going!  This book has made an enormous impact on the way I look at learning for each individual student that I teach.  It has made me feel that creating a growth mindset within my classroom is possible.  Giving me strength to instill this thinking in all my students.  I phrase things differently when talking with my students, making them see themselves as a positive learner.  I had a student come up to me in my Careers class and tell me that they couldn’t do the assignment the same as everyone else because they were (students words) “stupid!”  I had just finished reading this book and all the principles and concepts from the book came flooding back and this is where I began implementing this mindset within my students!

Tool:

I honestly think that my new favourite tool has become my blog https://julesrobinsonblog.wordpress.com/.  I started this blog while taking the E-Learning additional qualification course to post my responses for my classmates to read and to connect with educators online.  I was very nervous at first about posting my responses out there for everyone to criticize and read.  Boy was I wrong!  Starting my blog has been a super rewarding and positive experience where I can share my thoughts and ideas with other educators.  Getting feedback, or as another teacher in my other AQ class puts it “feed forward,” is such a fantastic way to engage with other educators who are on the same page.  I am hoping to keep up my blogging once my course is complete and to keep connecting with educators who I can share experiences and ideas with.

Person:

The person whom I think has inspired me the most in education is a previous principal, now superintendent, “Marcy Bell.”  Marcy has helped me to see my potential as an educator and given me great insight on qualities that I have that can help me grow as a teacher.  I can only hope to be as good an educator and leader as Marcy.  She inspires me to reach high and set my expectations of myself to a level I never thought I could reach!  She is a fantastic leader and encourages others around her to go after their goals.

 

 

Documenting for Learning

While contemplating the article “Documenting for learning” by Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano, I went to look up the definition of the word document.  The fourth definition down was, evidence, proof!  This is exactly what we do as teachers when we document our students learning.  We give evidence, proof to the student, parent and teacher that learning has occurred and continues to.  By providing that proof that learning is happening is encouraging for everyone involved, student, parent and teacher.  It shows us that our students are on track or sometimes gives us proof that our students are off track or that they may need more support to get back on track.  Personally I am a documenter as well, I document all my children’s milestones and exciting moments!  “Honey grab the camera he is going to blow his candles out!”  “Honey grab the camera she is taking her first steps!”  “Honey grab the camera he is eating his booger!”  Ok, not to that point do I document.  But I do like documenting and it gives me a sense of accomplishment that I have proof of my children growing.  It gives me something to look back on and see the changes that have occurred in my kids and realize how far they have come.  This is the same way that I look at documenting as a teacher it gives me proof that my students are achieving where they need to be, so I can look back at their progress and see that they too are growing, but in their learning.  I also feel that documenting gives me a way to check myself as a teacher, “Are my students understanding this concept?”  “Should I maybe  that topic in a different way?”  These types of questions arise from my documenting ways, and help me to become a better teacher.  Documenting has given my students ways to self-assess and see their progress, but it has also given me a way to self-assess my learning as a teacher and it helps me grow as an educator every day!
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Absenteeism

absenteeism-picAbsenteeism is a problem that can arise in online courses.  When taking an online course you have to be responsible and self-motivated to participate and be a part of the course community.  If students are not participating in discussions or being present online to complete assignments this can be a big problem.  They may fall behind in content, lose interest completely or not qualify to attain the course credit.

To prevent absenteeism teachers should create an environment where students are required to be active in discussions within different groups in the course.  By creating an active learning environment in your online course gives students opportunities to help each other and it encourages interaction among classmates.  By giving students chances to pose discussion questions and moderate discussions is another way for students to feel involved in their learning and requires them to be present online.  Teachers need to make online courses engaging and set it up that all students are able to participate at times convenient for them.  The expectations of how many times per week students are to be logging in and taking part in discussions needs to be put in place at the beginning of the course.

When addressing a student with an absenteeism problem in an online course the teacher needs to contact the student by email or phone, if email is not returned.  They need to find out if the student is continuing with the course and if so, find out the reasons why the student isn’t present online.  If accommodations need to be made to assist student learning then the teacher and student should come up with a solution that will work for both sides.

Supporting Student Learning

Teachers can support students who struggle in an online learning environment by scaffolding the learning so they can begin to build on previous experiences and prior knowledge.  We can do this by giving progressive self-tests, hints for solving problems or completing tasks, and give tasks and assignments that will continue to build on previous learning

By providing a multisensory approach to learning gives students different opportunities to engage in the content and clarify for understanding.  Teachers can provide this multisensory environment within online courses by implementing; visualization tools, graphics, illustrations and pictures.  When setting up your course with these tools mentioned above, can enhance student understanding for content, assignments and discussions for those that may struggle in the literacy component of the learning. “The use of organizers and overviews of the content enable students to think holistically, and it supports visually orientated learning (McLoughlin, 1999b).”

McLoughlin, C. (1999b). The implications of the research literature on learning styles for the design of instructional material. Australian Journal of Educational Technology, 15(3), 222-241.

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Engaging Our Students

Engaging students sometimes can be a difficult thing in a regular classroom and even more online.  As teachers we have to reach deep down into our creative bag at times to assist our students to be more engaged in our lessons and activities.  It could be making the instructions more interesting, adding in a fun element to a lesson or just making our activities more hands on.  A lesson that I have altered to grab the attention of my students was a science lesson in my electricity unit.  We were discussing static electricity, so I began the lesson with a short video clip of a crazy lightning storm.  Within about 5 seconds I had the attention of all the students in my class.  From there I proceeded to discuss static electricity and what it is and how it works.  I then closed the lesson with a Van der Graaf Generator, where my students had the opportunity to see static electricity in action.

Online course or regular classroom, we have to make our lessons interactive and engaging for our students to connect with the material.  I feel that by connecting my lessons to real world experiences and bringing in a simple video or demonstration as a hook, helps to build a fun and engaging classroom online or in person.

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Assessment

Is Assessment Different Online?

When looking at assessment in an online course I feel that the actual feedback isn’t really that different from the regular classroom.  It is more the way the feedback is given that is different.  In fact I think there is some perks to assessing online!  Teachers can give digital feedback (audio, video, screen-casts) which may be more engaging for most students to have the opportunity to watch and listen to the feedback, instead of reading what is written on their paper.  The teacher can make the feedback more personal and fun, putting a little humor into their suggestions.  Now, having said that, it can be difficult sometimes while assessing online because you don’t get the chance to have a quick f2f on a daily basis with your students.  When you do give feedback, most likely you are going to give more at one time because you don’t see the students daily to give verbal feedback though out the day here and there.

How to Support Online Assessment For, As, & Of Learning?

For Learning

An idea for assessment “For Learning” would be to incorporate quick quizzes in my course before each module, so I have an idea of where all my e-learning students are in relation to the content and technology.  This will give me an idea of where to focus my teachings and what, as a group or even as an individual, we should put more emphasis on within each module.

As Learning

Students should be given a number of opportunities throughout an e-learning course to have a one-on-one discussion with their teacher.  This is where the teacher can ask predetermined questions to see if students are achieving where they need to be.  This gives the students a chance to ask questions for clarification and discuss the expectations within each module.

Of Learning

An online group project is a great way for students to showcase their learning within an e-learning course.  It demonstrates what students have learned, and also what types of technology they have used to complete the task.  An example of a product that a group may put together could be a slide show.  A slide show is a great way to incorporate the use of technology, but also shows what students have learned and taken away from the course.

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Backwards Design

The topic that I chose to focus on for the backward design was the first unit in my Careers class.  The unit is titled “WHO AM I?”  In this unit we focus on getting each student to explore who they are as a person and what their interests are.  We compile lists of student attributes, characteristics and skills that would be present in a great employee.  We also explore past and present experiences that students may have that relate to the working world.

STAGE 1: IDENTIFY DESIRED RESULTS

Students will be able to identify experiences, attributes and skills that they have that relate to being a good candidate for a job.

STAGE 2: DETERMINE ACCEPTABLE EVIDENCE

Students will create a resume that compiles all their important and relevant experiences, attributes and skills that will relate to the work force or a job of their choosing.

STAGE 3: PLAN LEARNING EXPERIENCES & INSTRUCTION

  • Skill/Interest inventories
  • Job inventories
  • College/University program inventories
  • My Blue Print
  • Videos that demonstrate qualities of a good worker
  • Videos of good vs bad interviewsbackwards-designpic
  • Guest Speakers
  • Learning Style quizzes