Monday, September 21, 2015

Classroom Management: How To Calm A High Energy Class

Some years are like that.  Some years, the kids seem to have an endless supply of energy.  If you had a calm kind of class last year and this year you are dealing with a group of energetic little ones, you may need to change some of the management techniques that you are using.  I've come up with six things that have helped calm my high energy group. 
1.  Line Order:  My students all have a number.  They are in ABC order and they have their number assigned to them accordingly.  They put this number on all of their papers because I can quickly put them in order when I am grading papers and putting grades into my grade book.  Easy and quick.  This number is also on their homework folders.  I can put them into numerical order and see who is missing.  BUT I also use this number for line order.  This will put an end to "he's passing", "she's in my place", etc. etc.  So, students use their number for a lot of things.  It helps tremendously when lining up. 

2.  One At A Time:  When I call my class to line up, turn in papers, get books, etc. I call one table (group of desks) at a time.  This may seem like an obvious thing to do but I have had classes where I could just say:  "Get into line order for Library", etc. and they would quietly get into their places, ....easy.  And then there are years where it's a mad rush to get into line.  So to fix this, I call one group of desks at a time.  It's much calmer with 4-5 kids walking to line instead of 22-23 rushing to line. 

3. A Few At A Time:  This is just as it sounds.  When the morning bell rings, I let 3-4 students in the room at a time.  This prevents congestion at the lockers and cuts way down on the noise.  As those students finish putting things away I allow a few more into the room.  It helps the morning begin more calmly than with 22 kids rushing in at once.  I also use this technique after lunch.  A few at a time come in, put lunch boxes away, sit quietly, then more come in. 

4.  Calming Music:  One thing that I have found that works like a charm to calm a high energy class is Spa Music.  If you can get Pandora Radio in your classroom, find the Spa channel and turn it on very softly. It calms everyone!!

5.  Brain Breaks:  Use Brain Brakes often, but have rules in place.  With a high energy class, you will may have students running everywhere if you don't have rules.  When we have a brain brake the normal rule is that you stay behind your own chair.  This works with most activities.  My students also love "Red Light".  To play this, I use some upbeat music and kids start driving their car around the classroom.  When the music stops, that is their stop light and they must freeze.  The music starts again and the "cars" can go.  My students love this.  With high energy kids, you must watch them closely because these students will want to "crash" into others!!  If I have this problem, that "car" must immediately go to their garage (desk).  It usually only takes one time to be sent to the garage and the "crashing" will stop.

6.  Secret Student:  I've written about this one before, but when we line up to leave the classroom, I choose a student name from my jar.  The students do not know who the Secret Student is.  Here's how it works:  I will "secretly"  watch that student all the down the hall and then back to the classroom.  If that student is "perfect" in the hallway, he/she gets a sticker, piece of candy, etc. when we get back into the room.  Once a name is chosen, I put it aside and don't put it back into the jar until everyone has had a chance to be the Secret Student.  So the cool thing about this is that almost everyone will walk "perfectly" down the hallway because they might be the Secret Student!!  It works well to keep everyone on their best behavior in the hallways.  I tell them that they have to walk correctly, may not talk, may not be hopping or twirling and may not be touching the walls. Once we are back in the room, I'll reveal the Secret Students.  They love this!  You will be glad you started it. 

I hope you find these ideas helpful!  I would love to hear what you use to help with a high energy class!  Happy Teaching!
Sunday, September 13, 2015

Classroom Management-10 Ways To Keep Your Sanity

My district started school on August 24 so my students and I have had three weeks to get to know each other, learn the rules and procedures and settle into this school thing.  I seem to forget from year to year how much attention I have to pay to rules and procedures; classroom management.  So the excitement has worn off of the "new" school year and now we are down to business.  Let me tell you, it can be exhausting.  So, I've come up with 10 ways to keep my sanity!!!  I hope that you find these helpful too!  We all need reminding, so here goes:

1.  Believe in you.  You have trained for this. Unless you are a first year teacher, you have done this before.  We bring our students a long way during a school year and we  remember how we ended last year.  Routines were easy, everyone knew what to do, when to do it and how to do it.  We are starting over.  Just remember, this is you thing!  You were made for teaching!  You can do this!

2.  Repetition:  I tend to forget exactly how many times I have to repeat rules and procedures.  It seems like at this time of the year, I am constantly repeating.  Repetition is what the students need.  We have to repeat these things for several weeks until they come naturally to our students. 

3.  Don't Stop!: It seems that there are so many things to remember and reinforce that we sometimes forget things.  This happens, but stick to your plan!  If it is a rule, you have it for a reason.  If it is broken follow your plan of consequences...every...single...time! 

4.  Don't Stop!:  I know, this is number 3 but it is worth repeating!  Stick to your plan, don't play favorites and don't stop!  We must be firm, fair and CONSISTENT!!

5.  Not All Days Are Created Equally: We have all had them.  Days where nothing goes as planned.  Something as simple as "It's picture day!"  can throw your students into a spin.  Try to stay on schedule as much as possible and know that the more you can stay with your routine, the better the day will be. 

6.  Routine, Routine, Routine!:  I can't say enough about keeping a routine when possible.  I post a daily schedule on my calendar so that students know exactly what is coming.  Students do not know that they need routine, but believe me, it makes everything easier....everything!!!  I believe that once you have the routine down, the classroom pretty much runs itself....a well oiled machine! 

7.  Step Back, Take A Breath! : Even with our best efforts, we will become frustrated.  Step back.  Take a breath.  Drink a coke!  Eat some chocolate.  This day will pass.  That student will get it,...or not but just know that you are making a positive difference in the lives of these students! 

8.  Treat Yourself: We have a difficult job.  We deserve to treat ourselves....manicure, dessert, new pair of shoes, anything that will lift your spirit.  We have 180 days to be on top of our game.  We need to "refuel" often!!

9.  Give Yourself A Break:  Don't bring work home every night.  Don't bring work home every weekend.  You need a break.  Put some things on hold if you can.  You will be refreshed and ready after a break. 

10.  October Is Coming:  In my personal experience, things do not settle down like I want until October.  It normally takes that long of practice, routine, practice, practice and practice.  It seems like I can finally relax a little bit.  Rules have been learned, procedures come easily, students know that "I mean it!" and we can settle into a happy family...hopefully!  So friends, hang on.  October is coming!