Monday, April 28, 2014

My Personal Dos and Don'ts for Classroom Management Part 1 some of these are definitely going to be redundant to every list created entitled "Classroom Development" but I want to share the ups and downs I have experienced teaching middle school. For those of you reading who are either teacher of middle school or parents of middle school students, you know just how challenging this age group can be. Angsty is one of my new favorite words, let's just leave it at that. Each classroom and each group of students comes with their own challenges and it's our job to tailor make each class to fit the needs of our students. This can either be really challenging or really easy, but a good groundwork is essential (I feel) to get every class off on the right foot. Not to toot my own horn, but in a recent observation of a group from UW-Oshkosh a college student told me that I have some of the best classroom management they see. I of course scoffed because as a second year teacher I am in NO WAY perfect and will never be as perfect as some of you rockstar bloggers. That why Part 1 of this post starts like this:

WHAT NOT TO DO (But I learned the hard way)

1.)Match disrespect with disrespect

  • When students are just blatantly disrespectful and the broken record or reason is just NOT    working it is really easy to lose your cool.  I've done it and I just did it a couple of days ago. When you feel yourself fighting with a students, you've lost the battle. Find a way to calm the storm before you lose it!
2.) Be a "best friend"
  • We all want our students to like us and let's face it they do, because we teach THE BEST subject ever, but there has to be a line. Students need to understand that your are the adult, that what you say goes and that respect isn't optional. 
3.) Freeze up or let things go un-talked about
  • Being a new teacher is SCARY! You are put into situations you never expected to deal with and until you face them head on you'll never grow as a teacher. When something small happens, perhaps a student says something slightly mean, don't let it go unaddressed! EVER! Make a point to talk to the student one on one. See what's going on with him/her or just explain how their actions weren't acceptable. If you let the little things slide, monsters will be born!
4.) Make them rely on your opinion
  • "Does this look right" "Did I get a good grade?" are things I hear almost everyday. Students have been so conditioned to worry about the end result and forget to enjoy the process. The phrase from "What Teachers Make" pops into mind, "I can make a C+ feel like a congressional medal of honor and I can make an A- feel like a slap in the face". Getting your students to SLOW down and think things through will honestly make them concentrate hard, better themselves and behave in your classroom. 
5.) Threaten Them 
  • Oh boy...this is a big one and one I struggle not to do. "Put that cell phone away or I'll write you up!", "Use those materials wisely or you won't use them at all"....oh geez....did I just say that? Yes I did but I've been working on stopping. You see the threat might work for RIGHT NOW but it doesn't for next week, month, year, or life time. Change it to be "What is the school policy on cell phones?" or "materials are here for everyone, please rethink your actions". 
6.) Respond to Shout-outs EVEN IF students are just really excited about what you're teaching
  • Once that door is open, it's always an option. It is so challenging when you finally get that group of students who is just busting at the seams to talk about art and express their opinions about a topic to forget the Golden Rule of classrooms; always raise your hand. I tell you though, once you've let one kid do it, they ALL do it. 
7.) Fear to stray from the Rubric
  • Assessment is important, don't get me wrong but sometimes student's creativity goes far beyond five points for layering "proper shading". I make exceptions all the time! If a student can justify why they did their project deems "breaking a rubric guideline" then I simply cross it off. When students finish their self grading I ask them to write discussion points in the comments section. 
8.) Take it Personal
  • Some students won't like you or they won't like your class. Don't take it personal and don't stop pushing them to at least try. 
9.) Over think mistakes
  • I've made them, you've made them and we'll make them again (hopefully not the same ones). When a day just goes AWFUL, let yourself reflect and feel down for like ten minutes then get back on that horse and teach those kiddos. Turn to a friend or fellow teacher to get fresh perspective on what to do differently next time. I guarantee they've made the same mistake. 
10.) Forget your Art Kids
  • Okay, something we all hate to talk about. There will always be that group of kids who are like "The Art Kids". There in Art Club, they take as many art classes as they can, they are planning to pursue art after high school, etc. They are just "Art Kids". You want to find that fine line between encouraging them and showing preferential treatment. This can be difficult, my personal favorite way is secretly slipping my "Art Kids" extra challenges to address in the class projects. They seem to respond well :) 
"There are so many more you're missing!" you say? Well, I agree. Please add your BIGGENS' in the comments. I'm always looking for new ideas :) 


  1. Love all of these! Great advice. You may want to edit your spelling of the word lose. Thanks for the well thought out post.

  2. Hugh,
    Thanks for catching that mistake! I always mix those up :) Happy to hear you enjoyed the post and check in for part two hopefully tomorrow.