So, in addition to that, this year I've been working on consistently enforcing the no purse/bag rule, and the no bathroom rule. While these are both school policies, and not my own choice of classroom rules, I am proud of myself for sticking to them. I love how easy it is to look at the student and say, "You know the rule." They know the rule and the consequence and they choose accordingly. Makes classroom management easy peasy lemon squeezy.
The problem, or 'issue' I should call it, is that I don't enforce my own personal rules and consequences for the classroom. Honestly, a lot of stuff just doesn't bother me. I don't even notice if students get up to throw something away or sharpen their pencil while I'm talking. Especially since I've moved to so much group work, I'm rarely lecturing away for them to even be able to interrupt me. I don't care if they chew gum or eat in my room. I don't expect them to raise their hand and wait to be called on. For the most part, I don't care if they sit in another seat. Again, group work has pretty much eliminated that issue because I have chairs sectioned into teams of 4 and so everyone stays with their teams.
All this to say, I don't feel that there is a problem, but that was the only thing I was marked low on during my formal evaluation. I think I need to take a look through a different perspective and brainstorm how I could make my classroom a better learning environment for all. While certain things may not necessarily bother me, there is always a way to make things better. And I have had students complain at different times about the noise level and how other students are complaining instead of working. Sometimes my classroom can be a chaotic place.
One idea I read about over the weekend ( from Conscious Classroom Management by Rick Smith) is when asking for answers, to not call on any student to answer until at least half of the hands in the classroom are raised. Then call on each one of them without acknowledging correctness or incorrectness but by saying 'thank you' to each student. I like this idea, but as I mentioned in a previous post, I've been using a timer to randomly select students to explain to the class so again, hand raising isn't really an issue.
I'm working on implementing roles for each team member to gain even more accountability but I need help. If you have any links to blogs, books, or articles on cooperative learning roles, could you please post them in the comments?
One of my classes is spent entirely online using ALEKS, an online math curriculum. A lot of my students hate it and spend time complaining and freezing up their computers so that they don't have to participate. I sent the students a message explaining that I would now be grading them on the time spent each day actively working (ALEKS provides that in a simple report for me.) I can't fairly grade them on how fast they are mastering material so this was the only thing I could think of. There are 20 points possible per week, 4 per day. Here is the scale:
- 1-10 minutes- 1 point
- 11-20 minutes- 2 points
- 21-30 minutes- 3 points
- 31-40 minutes- 4 points
We have 45 minute class periods so I think that is fair. If students work more than 40 minutes, they get 5 points for the day.
This has helped some because now the complainers are being held accountable and the diligent workers don't feel like they are working for nothing. I'm not sure how much student learning is really going on, but that's another post...
My previous post was about procedures and so I guess this one is asking for suggestions of more procedures. What my administrators mentioned to me, is that even though all students were participating within their groups, were they actively participating and am I aware of the quieter, more unnoticeable students level of understanding? I think this can be handled by assigning roles to each team member and eventually moving to team members assessing each other.
My real downfall is language in the classroom. I abhor cussing but I pretty much let it slide. I can't figure out why I am this way. I hate it. I never use it. But when I hear students say it, I give the evil eye and say "Language!" in my stern grown-up voice. And they apologize and we resume our normally scheduled programming. Also, even though I don't allow put downs, there are just a lot of negative vibes. I have a couple students who are rather outspoken. Let's call them bullies, just for analogy's sake. They are experts at subtle and not so subtle comments that are rude or cocky or degrading to others. I don't know how to deal with it really. How do I write someone up for saying something that implies someone else is stupid but without saying anyone's name or that they're stupid? Ugh, I wish I had an example. Or people that are just very sarcastic, or interrupt class to say something totally irrelevant, or just snap out on 'the air', etc. I feel weird about making up an new consequence or something because what I'm doing is basically targeting 4-5 people and trying to punish them. Does that make sense? What I really need to do is deal with these specific students but I don't really know how to do that. Also, I have phone phobia. Is it okay to send a letter home to parents instead of calling them? In my opinion, it is safer because nothing can be misconstrued and keeping copies can help cover my butt if anything ever comes up. Then students, parents, teacher, administrators are all on the same page. But then again, I am biased against phones...And I have to address the students before the parents right? I'm being a coward.
During some PD last year, a guy told us about just stopping the class and having a discussion with them about a behavior that you want to change. Make a t-chart of good and bad examples, what it should look like and what it shouldn't. Bring students attention to the problem and a variety of solutions. And so forth. But just like the above paragraph, I have a hard time explaining what the problem is. They have to have a concrete understanding of what is upsetting me before they can quit doing it. Right?
This is the biggest setback and interruption to student's learning environment that I can think of.
How can I bring peace?