Sunday, April 11, 2021

Classroom Management during a Pandemic

 "Ugg! Classroom management....again?!" "Why can't I just teach?!"  "I spend hours creating great lessons! Why don't my students appreciate my hard work?" "Why can't they just behave??!!"

These are just a few of the comments that I have heard or even thought throughout my career. The truth is the kids are kids. They delight in getting away with something. They want to appear "cool" to their peers. Some of them may even be thinking about their rough start to the day or a situation at home. And honestly, some kids don't really care about music. <so sad>

So before you can teach anything, you have to have their attention. Thus classroom management. YOU need to get and keep their interest in your lesson.

As I have mentioned in my most recent posts, my students and I are spaced 6 feet apart so some of my usual management strategies have been adjusted. One of my go-to strategies is proximity - moving closer to students who need help with paying attention or need redirection. Having the teacher stand next to you can be highly motivating for students who are chatting with neighbors or playing with a toy. Now in my current classroom, having the kids spread 6 feet apart has helped a lot with side conversations. Still there are some situations where I do leave my chair in the front of the room and just walk over the inattentive students - usually for less than a minute - and that is within the guidelines of my school district. I continue the lesson without directing the rest of the class's attention on the misguided students. Their eyes are just following me as I move within the room.

If subtlety doesn't work, I will wait until a time when the class is not relying on me to directly deliver the instruction - during a video clip for example - and walk over to the inattentive students and quietly ask them to stop whatever is taking them away from the lesson. This is done discreetly so that the other classmates are not aware of it taking place. You've spared the distracted students their image by not bringing it up in front of their peers and most times, this does the trick.

However there are times when neither of these strategies work. In that case I stop the lesson and ask the offending students to meet with me away from the rest of the kids - out in the hallway but leave the door open or in your office (if you have one) or even up to your place in the classroom. Keep your voice low and calm. Ask if there is anything you can help them with. Comment on the unacceptable behavior that you see and be clear about your expectations. This is also the time where you want to add some accountability. If your school uses schoolwide consequences for poor actions, this is a good time to remind the offenders of those consequences and if the behavior continues, you will assign one. Then everyone goes back to their seats and the lesson continues without any further attention being brought to the disruption.

There are 2 important parts here.

1) Be respectful to the students whether they are respectful or not. Do not get emotionally involved - keep your cool. Speak in a calm but firm voice. 

2) If you say you are going to do something, you must follow through and do it. This is your credibility on the line. Kids will totally respect you if you keep your word.

Establishing clear class rules are essential for maintaining order in your classroom. I will discuss that more in another blog.

I hope you found this helpful. If you have any questions, please reach out to me. We're all in this together.

Hang in there! Ellen 


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