“I will call on students that raise their hands, and my name is not ‘Teacher.’”
“But why can’t I call you that? You ARE a teacher!”
Classroom management is something I really believe is one of my strengths. Yet this year, I feel like I’m having difficulty getting all of my students on board. I’m frequently getting outbursts like the ones above. I’m trying to figure out what I’m doing differently this year, but I think that it’s simply that the dynamics my students bring to the classroom are a lot different than what I’m used to.
This year presents a really unique challenge for me: My students will be as quiet as possible when I give them an in-class assignment to work on. It is sometimes so silent that I can hear a pin drop. (And yes, I know this is not a usual occurrence in special education resource rooms!)
But other times, my students will be the complete opposite and will not stop talking. Don’t get me wrong, I am so excited that they are comfortable enough to want to share their ideas. But it’s getting so bad that everyone is talking all at once.
What really works for me is “Give Me 5.” I think most students are familiar with the concept: The teacher counts down from five, and by the time she gets to one, the class should be quiet. (I am not claiming to have thought this up; I have just adapted it from different teachers I’ve seen and ideas I’ve come across on the internet).
I just made mine a little more specific—each number corresponds to a specific thing the students should do. By the time I get to one, all of the students should be looking at me. I always like to make sure I am in a different spot in the classroom when I do this, so I can ensure that I have the attention of the whole class.
My “Give Me 5” works really well when the whole class is talking at once, but now I’m finding that my students just talk out of turn when they have something to say. Once again, I’m super excited that they want to share their ideas, but they are doing so at the expense of their peers.
So now we’ve introduced “Hands Up to Keep it Full” to encourage the students to raise their hands when they have something to contribute in class. With this interactive chart, the students either take away or add a marble (with the aid of the Velcro) depending on whether they forgot or remembered to raise their hand. While this hasn’t ended the talking out of turn, many times the students will catch themselves if they talk before raising their hand.
I try to have my students work in cooperative groups whenever possible, as I think they can learn so much by working with their peers. However, my students really struggle with this. I really thought that I did a good job putting my groups together, but lately I’m getting a lot of one student doing the work while the other ones sit there. Or the students will tattle on each other constantly. I did go over norms and rules for working in groups at the beginning of the year, but I am now wondering if that is something I should revisit.
Some days I feel like I’m doing too much and introducing too many things to keep my classroom management under control. Other days I feel like I’m not doing enough. I would welcome any advice or tips on classroom management.
Any thoughts on what you think is working for me—or things that I can do better?