Tag Archives: classroom

Best Present for a Teacher EVER!!!

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I always knew I had the most fabulous students ever, but when I got the following from one of my students, I was completely blown away. Make sure to read the spelling of ‘beliebing’ lol

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I am the eternal cat lady – pictures of my cats have been known to find their way into my slides…

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This one is for the day I completely fainted from heat exhaustion before 9:30am – luckily my fabulous students more more than keen to try out their first aid qualifications!

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I am still blown away by these gifts. Most thoughtful gift ever, I think!

Our lives in photos

I’ve been thinking lately about our need to capture everything we see in both our lives and while on holidays on camera. Of course, then we immediately post these photos to social media, instantly documenting our experiences in a personal museum, for others to peruse.

Are we that obsessed with capturing the moment that we forget to actually experience it? While we didn’t all grow up in the instant sharing generation, most of us now have completely ‘adapted’ and feel like we will miss something later, if we don’t capture it now.

Our students, however, have completely grown up in this universe. I remember a time not so long ago where I went through a phase where I had to have all my photos (much less numerous per time period than now!) immaculately organised, and each one of them recorded via social media. Now, I tend to upload ‘as I go’ and am much more likely to use a mobile device to do so, however I am finding I’m only uploading ‘highlights’ of the collection, so to speak.

This has made me think about the impact on my students and for my classroom. If our students have grown up in a world where capturing each and every moment is seen as the norm, they are much less likely to stop and experience a moment for what it’s worth and may go through life with only a superficial view and superficial knowledge of their experiences.

Perhaps we should be taking the time in our classrooms to reflect on the value of reflection!

It’s worth thinking about.

Thought of the day: be proactive, not reactive

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Don’t try to manage 100 things at once as they are happening. Stop and start again if necessary.

Have a backup plan.

Plan for the worst case scenario.

Build classroom management into the lesson content and structure.

Teach behaviour explicitly if necessary. Who am I kidding – teach it anyway.

Always reflect – its the only way to improve your teaching.

The importance of routines and consistency

From my experience on prac, I cannot emphasise the importance of routines and consistency enough. Having a routine for entering and exiting the classroom is particularly important, because students will know what to expect, and hence know when they have done the wrong thing. It also helps prevent potential behaviour management issues for the same reason. If you explicitly teach the rules and routines to the students, you are teaching them how to behave appropriately. It helps enormously if the entire school has the same routines for students in every class and with every teacher, but where this isn’t possible, you can at least implement one in your own classroom for the benefit of yourself and your students.

A possible routine for entry could be students are to get their book (for the lesson), pens and school diary out before they come into the classroom. This essentially means that they are to enter the room prepared to learn – if they have the correct equipment, they should be more likely to enter the room in the right frame of mind. Hopefully.

A possible routine for exit could be chairs behind desks, and stand behind chairs. This should include a general tidy up of the classroom as a courtesy to the next class, and to emphasise the importance of taking pride in their school.

Why is this so important? As teachers, it is crucial that you are seen by your students as being impartial and fair. If you change the routine or change the rules every time you see your class, they will not know what to expect, and they will not have appropriate rules and behaviour routines reinforced. And even more importantly, you need to be consistent and fair with each and every student. Treating a student in a manner that can be correctly perceived as unfair by another student will simply teach that student that there is no point behaving appropriately, or there is no point putting in the effort to learn or complete their classwork.

Remember – students always notice what you don’t want them to notice, remember what you don’t want them to remember, and don’t remember the stuff you do want them to remember! So behave transparently at all times!

Handling students’ demands for attention

It may seem obvious, but one of the skills you have to have as a teacher is how to manage a classroom full of students who are all clamouring for your attention at once.  During my first prac, I totally did not anticipate how much attention each student would be demanding at any given time, especially the younger students.  So I didn’t come prepared with any strategies to handle their constant demand for attention.  It manifests itself in many ways – some students behave inappropriately, some students are generally disruptive, some had genuine questions about their work and needed help in order to progress their understanding.  And finally, some just needed reassurance (every 5 seconds!) that they were on the right track.

So how on earth was I going to deal with this problem?  During my second prac I improved, and started focusing on the students that were being disruptive.  But as I got to know the students, I realised that some were just bored – they needed to be engaged with more difficult work.  So I put together a resource folder, and students would work to their own level of achievement during their prac time.

During my third prac, I improved further.  For example, I stopped answering every single question that was put to me straight away.  Instead, I paid attention to the types of questions being asked, and once they had accumulated, I addressed the class as a group.  I also reminded them of the importance of listening in order to know what was being asked of them the first time, if that was the issue.  I also prioritised my own attention to the students that were needing it most – and that was usually the ones that were behaving inappropriately.  By prioritising managing their behaviour using Positive Behaviour for Learning (PBL), I was able to then use the rest of my time more effectively managing and teaching the class.

I still have a long way to go, but managing students’ competing need for attention is a really important issue that needs addressing in the classroom.

Prac is difficult!

Yes I realise I’m stating the obvious here, but yes prac is difficult. You are essentially walking into someone else’s classroom with someone else’s students with already established routines, and even if you are introduced effectively and professionally (as I am lucky enough to have been), you are still to a certain extent seen as a visitor by the students and they treat you accordingly.  No such thing as the students taking it easier on you cos you’re a uni student – they try their best to test your limits!

That being said however, prac is a really valuable time to learn as much as humanly possible about classroom management, and about the technology available for use in the classroom and to practice using it. It is also a lot easier than taking a full teaching load, and usually less hours involved than for the permanent staff as much as you do try to get involved in as much as possible.  I am 2 days into my final 20 day placement, and it has finally clicked that content is not anywhere near as important as practicing your classroom management skills on your prac.  Think about it – with no experience in the classroom but at least an undergrad degree under your belt in your chosen field, which are you going to be better at – content or classroom management?  Ahhhhhhh…..

I have also learnt that consistency is key.  Not only within the classroom, but a whole school approach can really make a big difference.  My school has developed a whole school Positive Behaviour for Learning (PBL) plan over the last few years which all staff have had input into, and school rules are visible and actively taught and reinforced in every class.  So it doesn’t matter what class the students are in or what teacher they have, the rules and expectations are always the same.  That also makes it really easy for a newcomer like me to come in and take a class, as they already know the rules, and I just have to remind them.  Regularly.  But it works!