Classroom management - I want to better!(9 Posts)
Finally passed my NQT year last summer - my job is 0.4. I am in a challenging inner city school, high FSM, SEN but low EAL.
I am still not happy with my classroom management. I think I have good rules and routines in place but still face daily challenges and boundary testing. There is no chair throwing or rioting, just lots and lots of low level disruption from my year 8s and 9's.
My boss says he can see a massive difference from last year in terms of the elusive 'presence' and he loves my lessons and resources, but lessons take ages to start off and I don't get through my planning with year 8/9.
Does it gradually get easier through the first years after NQT?
Any positive words/ encouragement/ stories / tips would be hugely appreciated!
How do you start lessons? If you want to get to a brisk start, a good routine is to meet the class at the door, having some questions on the board ready for them to get on with, they file in in an orderly fashion, get their books out and start on the questions straight away. The work on the board has to be something they don't need input with.
You might need to practise this a bit with them. Don't hesitate to chuck them back out in the corridor and get them to come in again if they don't do it properly.
As for planning, perhaps you are planning too much?
I had this and found that a simple fool-proof starter either on the bard or on the paper on the desk settled them - basically they are reassured by routine, just like babies and toddlers :-).Conversely I had a colleague ( not saying you do this) who was convinced everything had to be jazzy three-ring circus which just fired them up and they behaved worse and worse. Sometimes I do go over to a table and have a very quiet joke, that makes them laugh and the rest of the class fall to dead silence to try to hear what its about.
Have something on the board for them to get on with, with the clear expectation they do that and don't speak until you've finished the register. I tended to use brain teasers as an NQT but now tend to use short questions/activities based on previous lesson. Do not let them slow the start of the lesson with missing rulers, issues with x,y,z, no homework.
I agree with noble, with a tough class, kicking them out works. Although you need to use this sparingly and for a short time only, as otherwise they treat it like a game. Also needs a class where most want to work, otherwise they will just play the game to get out of working.
Planning - what is your pace like? There is a fine line between allowing a lesson to develop organically and keeping up the pace. Set a time limit, have regular time checks and 'hands-up who's got to question...'. Do they need to write everything down? Would your lessons fit better into two lessons?
Behaviour management is something that takes time; I've been teaching for quite a few years but still have days when it's back to basics.
Thank you! Lots to think about.
Yes, I have a habit of over planning and am trying to wean myself off it!
I do actually have dead easy questions on the board when the class enter, with the same formula every week, as you say, to reassure them. But the idea of them actually starting a task without me seems beyond them.
They cannot even stay silent during the register. Do you insist on absolute silence or ignore the odd bit of talking in order to maintain pace?
I don't take a verbal register. Massive waste of time and effort when you can see who is absent just by looking at empty chairs.
The kids know I've registered them because I'll make a comment like 'everyone's here then' or 'does anyone know where Poppy is?'.
I don't call a register either - I do it by looking around.
Try thunks - you can find them online or buy a book (or make your own up) - they're questions without a real answer and are devised to get kids thinking. They don't end to be related to your lesson content, but they can be. Stuff like Would you rather have toes for fingers or fingers for toes (random), If you take the books, the teachers and the kids out of the building, is the building still a school? Etc. I do The Demon Headmaster with Yr 7 (drama) so might ask Would you rather our HT was a witch or a dragon? In Yr 8 we do a play about bullying, so I've started with Who is the bigger bully - Darth Vader or Voldemort? The idea is that the thunk is on the board, they think it's a weird question so they will chat about it, then ask for viewpoints. It's a good opportunity to practise techniques like Pose, Pause, Pounce, Bounce. Also, use praise loads - whatever your system is. We do names on the green list - so I'll ask a child for their opinion, then write their name up for contributing.
I do use a verbal register with hard to settle classes - it's a routine and gets them silent and settled before teaching begins. Once you've got the class sorted then you can start to do just a visual check. It is important to insist on silence for it, as well as when speaking to the class. If you allow one bit, then it's like a plague that spreads in most classes.
If you hear talking stop what you are saying, but don't look up. That's all most of them need. If that doesn't work, very obviously stop what you are doing, sit back in your chair, looking at them, and then at your watch if it continues.
With pupils with the needs you mention in your OP need routine and strict boundaries. Just make sure you are explicit in your instructions and sweat the small stuff. It is very different teaching in an inner city school compared to leafy grammar (NOTICE different)
Also do not underestimate how much easier things will get when you are an "old face". I started at a new school this year, similar intake to yours over 60% FSM, 40% SEN and 20% EAL. I have 10yrs experience and first term was "challenging" not until after Christmas was I happy with the behaviour of my classes (but I do have VERY high expectations) and having had my timetable recently changed and taken on a new class am having to start all over again...whilst I see my previously angelic Yr7 top set "testing" the new teacher!!
Don't be afraid to try new stuff. Look up Doug Lamov for some tactics that might work, recommended for the types of pupils you will be encountering.
Don't be afraid to ask for support from HOD DH etc etc
Use the schools behaviour policy rigorously and fairly.
Contact home as soon as pupils are not performing in the way you expect them too and get parents to support sanctions.
Enjoy the good days and expect them to be "good" both in terms of behaviour and attainment. Most of my classes were much more on side when they saw how their and their peers grades were improving.
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