Category Archives: Behavior Management
I love the summer for many reasons. One of them, though, is that I find time to post about things that I meant to post about all year, but got too busy for! This, is one such post.
We all know that it depends on the year, the mix of kids, class configuration etc. etc….as to what kind of behavior issues we may end up with in a class. In my time teaching, I have had lots of different behaviour issues to deal with, as I’m sure you have. I came across Behaviour Needs a few years ago, and it really helped me to gain some insight about my behavior management skills. Summer can be the perfect time to check out sites like this, because although we’re not in front of kids at the moment, and in need of the material – we actually have the time to browse. And we all know we’ll be back in front of kids before too long!
Perhaps you’ve noticed a button in my sidebar for Behaviour Needs. Well, it’s there because I think so much of what they have to offer (25 classroom management strategies to get silence from a noisy group of students, Take Control Of The Noisy Class – video 1, Behaviour Tool Kit, webinars, free behavior management resources, videos, and much more) . I really support what founder and teacher Rob Plevin tries to do for teachers. He’s been there and he understands! He’s created resources and networks to help teachers in their classrooms, to gain control and maintain sanity so that they can teach their students.
There are tons of resources on the Behaviour Needs website (free and priced). Just to be clear, my aim is not to “sell” anyone on the site. I am an affiliate of theirs, but that’s because I have purchased and believe in their teacher resources and I know that they can help teachers with their behavior management skills, because they helped me with my own. Because I have found these resources helpful, I’m passing the link along for anyone who may want to sharpen up their behavior management skills – that’s all! Posts like this are risky to me, as I do NOT want them to come off as a sales pitch. However, I know when I was a new teacher especially, I couldn’t get enough information on classroom and behavior management. I was (and still am) always on the lookout for new tactics and tools to add to my “teacher’s toolbox”, especially to deal with difficult and unmotivated middle school students. Perhaps you are the same.
Okay, that’s it for now! I’m off to camp with my boys for the first time this summer. I hope you’re having a fantastic weekend – lots of sunshine here!
Let me know if you try out any of Rob’s resources. Also, please feel free to share your favorite behaviour management tips/sites below for all of us to check out!
If I’ve thought it once,
I’ve thought it a million times,
Each year, a new kid,
Why do you act the way you do?
I spend so much of my time,
Trying to really figure out who you are,
Do you not see that I care?
I really, honestly care?
I want you to do well,
And to have every opportunity that you deserve.
If you do see that I give a shit,
Then, I ask again,
Why do you act the way that you do?
What are you so angry about?
Why are you so unfocused?
Why, when people try to help you,
Do you put your back up and then walk away?
Why do you act this way?
I’ll never know the life you live,
I have a feeling that if I did,
It would truly break my heart,
I can try to understand you,
I will always try,
But at the end of the day,
I do have enough sense to know,
That I’ll never fully get it,
There’s no way that I possibly can,
We’re just too different, you and I.
I do know,
That I’ll keep trying,
I’ll keep turning the other cheek, and then turn I’ll turn it again,
Because I know that tolerance, acceptance and kindness is what you need,
I know deep down that there are a million and one reasons,
Why you act the way you do,
I guess I just wish,
That I could help you to act the way I know YOU want to.
How do you get through to your most challenging students? What about when they don’t want to let you in?
I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, and heck I’m going to say it right now: Don’t underestimate the power of a well-planned seating arrangement.
I had allowed my students the privilege of sitting beside a person of their choice. I know when I do this, it probably won’t last the day. However, I let them know up front that they will keep their seats if I don’t have to speak to them for being chatty and off-task. Having to speak to them more than a couple of times shows me that they obviously won’t be able to work productively beside that person and they will have to move. So, fast-forward a few days into the seating arrangement (basically chosen by them). Some partnerships are working (as usual) and others are crashing and burning. There were a couple of pairings, in particular, that were poison for one another. So, one day at break-time, I made some quick seat changes and the difference in the noise level from before lunch to after, was measurable – especially for a Friday afternoon.
If you have never given much thought to your seating arrangement OR you need to give some more thought to it now, I’ve got a few things that you’ll want to keep in mind. This is not a complete list – just a few things to get you started.
Seating Arrangement Tips (in no particular order):
1. When you’re planning your arrangement, think about the space that you have and how you usually teach. Will they be taking notes? Can everyone see the board? Will you be asking them to work with a group every day?
2. Survey your room and see if there’s any furniture that could be placed elsewhere to free up floor space for desks. Your teacher desk, computer, shelves – are they all in the best spot giving you the most usable classroom space? (I hadn’t considered this one until just this past August. I had my furniture as it was when I inherited the room and I realized that the configuration wasn’t optimal for space and utility.)
3. Think about the different seating options that will fit/work in your room: Single rows, rows of pairs, rows of threes, small groups of 3 or 4, a horseshoe shape, a horseshoe shape with a few rows inside the horseshoe etc. Have a look around your school for inspiration of desk/table configurations that will work in your room.
4. Students with hearing or seeing issues should be placed close to the teacher if possible.
5. Are you going to seat by ability, pairing like students together or students with different abilities together? There are pros and cons to both – there can also be some mixing and matching here to try to reach the needs of your students.
6. Who is easily distracted? Try not to seat these students by the sharpener, the windows, door or other high traffic areas – IF possible. Try to seat these students beside students who tend to be more focused, to balance things out.
7. Students who tend to turn around in their seats need to sit at the back, if possible.
8. When you make changes to a seating plan, always move more than one person. If ONE person is being a problem and s/he comes in to class to find that s/he is the only one moved, s/he may feel targeted and could get defensive. However, if you have moved multiple people, you can say that a few pairings weren’t working out and so you had to make some changes.
9. Write each student’s name on a post-it (there are online options for doing this as well) and then move the post-its on your desk until you have students where you want them.
I’ve stopped at 9, hoping that you can help me to continue this list. What other tips or lessons learned about seating arrangements could you share?
This is so exciting! I’m thrilled to welcome Neil, Lessons From The Middle’s first guest blogger. Neil is from the UK. He’s been teaching for two years, at the primary level. He has a passion for physical activity and recently started a blog focussing on physical activity and outdoor education. He practises what he preaches – he’s worked as a camp councillor and is a canoeing instructor. Although Neil teaches in the primary grades, his message is one for all teachers of all grades and subject levels.
We all know the stats: Approximately a third of children in the US, Canada and the UK are obese. Children are getting fatter and may not live as long as their parents. I don’t want to dwell on the problem, but what is our role as educators to find a solution? Children spend around 6 hours a day at school and a lot of that time can be spent being pretty inactive. So I think as the olympics loom on the horizon, it’s a good time to start to talk to our classes about their lifestyle. What if every teacher spent an extra 5 minutes a week of our class time being active? Wouldn’t that make our children’s lives a bit less sedentary? I think that over time, it could start to make a nation fitter and healthier.
Healthy living should be like English – a subject that spans the curriculum and an area that every teacher has an obligation to teach well, no matter what their subject specialty. I’m not going to suggest that children should be constantly active in the classroom. There are lots of times when a calm quiet approach is the best way to get our learning across. But there are also those moments in a classroom, when we have a few minutes to spare or when the class appears restless, that using an active approach would enhance our teaching and the children’s enjoyment. So I wanted to share a few ideas to make your lessons full of beans.
An active few minutes:
I apologise if I’m preaching to the converted, but I find in the busy world of teaching – it’s always good to have the occasional reminder. So here are a few ideas for those quick breaks in the middle of your lessons to refocus children’s concentration. Action games are the best place to start. Games like Simon Says, Head Shoulders Knees and Toes can be adapted and put to good use in the younger grades. Music can work well depending on the dynamic of your class. You can simply play some music for 1 minute and just get your class to dance. Displaying songs with actions like the Cha, Cha Slide on your whiteboard is another option. Another idea is to lead some actions yourself and get the children to copy. I like to play the game where I repeat an action four times and then switch to a different action. But whatever action I am doing, the children have to repeat the action that I did previously.
If your lesson includes any kind of matching activity, then why not turn it into a relay race? Place all of the items at one end of a hall or outdoor space and the children have to run and collect each item one at a time. While this is happening the other children in the group can be matching. This is a good way to involve everyone in group work and helps to stop one child from taking over.
I have a lot of children in my class who have English as a second language and this next idea is a way of teaching language structure, as well as getting your class more active. Pick a short paragraph of information from your lesson. It could be a science definition or a poetic verse that you would like them to learn, about 6 lines or so should be enough. Then, photocopy it for each group. You’ll need a bit of room, so you’ll either have to take your class outside or clear some tables. Place the photocopied text at one end of the room and split the children into groups at the other end with some blank paper and pens. This is basically another form of a relay race – the children have to run to the other end of the classroom and memorize one line of text, then they run back and write it down. It doesn’t sound too tricky, right? Well, the catch is that the copied text must be perfect. So, no spelling mistakes and no incorrect punctuation. You can award points for the first team to finish and for the most accurate copy.
Name everyone in your class as a type of fruit: Bananas, strawberries, pineapples and mangos. Then, when your class need to stretch their legs you say the name of the fruit. If you said “Strawberry” everyone who was named that fruit would swap places with the other children who were strawberries. If you feel brave shout “Fruit salad” and everyone has to swap seats.
This classic game is a good way to summarise a topic or to get children to explain different concepts. Get each table to think of a key word or concept from your lesson. Then, they have to act it out while the rest of the class have to guess what the word or idea is. This is a good way to get children thinking and moving.
So next week, try to include 5 minutes of activity in your lessons. Here are a few more exercise ideas, if you need them.
Neil @ www.outdooradventurous.com
Again, I’d like to thank Neil for his guest blog post. Please visit his new blog: Outdoor and Adventurous.
I totally agree with adding more physical and/or outdoor activities to our classrooms when we can. Although it can be a challenge – especially in Canada in the winter;) It’s important! Just the other day, we were doing a writing activity in class and it was such a nice afternoon that I took my class outside to write. We took a five-minute walk from class to a sunny spot outside, and also enjoyed some fresh air!
As you get up in the older grades, you have to be a little more creative, I think, to get the kids active. There are issues with self-consciousness, and space as the kids get physically bigger. That being said, I think we’ve all looked at our classes and thought – you just need to get up and move around! So, take Neil’s advice and try to add just five minutes of movement into your class. Trust me, your students will appreciate it – especially at this time of the year! And, I know what you’re thinking…but there are lots of simple ways to get them back into their seats when the activity is over. It’s like anything else – a routine to be taught. Well done Neil!
Want to be a Guest Blogger?
If you would like to write a guest post for Lessons From The Middle, I’d love to have you! Please, send me an email with your post attached. It should be about education, either for all grades OR the middle grades. Please be sure to include where you’re currently teaching, 3 interesting things about yourself and how long you’ve been teaching, so that I can introduce you to my readers. You can also email me with any questions. I look forward to hearing from you!
If you are a middle school teacher, perhaps you have noticed that your students occasionally enjoy testing the boundaries (and your patience). Maybe I’m the only one – but I’m thinking not! With the end of the school year quickly approaching, students just want summer to be here (teachers too) and patience sometimes get thin.
It’s at these times, when I’m not at my wit’s end – but I’m close, that I usually revert to one of my tried and tested behavior management strategies. You don’t need any formal training, no forms are necessary, and it’s completely within YOUR control: Have a sense of humor.
Now, don’t get me wrong. There are times that I may want to scream – and would be perfectly within my rights to do so, based on their questionable behavior and poor decisions. My buttons have been pushed and my professionalism challenged. I’m sure I’m no different from any one of you. However, one of the behavior management strategies that has helped me to keep my sanity with some of my most challenging students, is to find something in the situation to laugh at.
Just to be clear – cursing -not funny. Fighting – definitely not funny. There are lots of other things, though, that my lovely middle-schoolers do and say that would drive me crazy if I let them. I’ve come to recognize these situations, and when I feel annoyed or challenged, sometimes I just laugh or make a joke to lighten the mood and defuse the situation before moving on with my lesson.
There have been times when students have complained, sulked, sooked or been rude that I felt like screaming, “Who do you think you are?” Of course, I can’t do that. And even if I did, who wants to spend their days yelling? Not me. It’s exhausting though, to constantly be nagging about behaviors, rules, poor decisions and what’s acceptable and what’s not – especially when you have particularly argumentative students who are looking for a battle to win.
Let me give you a “for instance”. Not too long ago, there was a student who very rudely demanded to know why I had shut the window. He’d just come from Phys. Ed. and he was hot! I felt like yelling, “What did you just say to me?” Instead I said, (with a smile on my face – which is very important) “You’re not saying that I’m not allowed to close a window in my own classroom, when I’m cold, are you?”… He didn’t know what to say. He just looked at me, rudeness gone, and replied, “No?” The other kids started to laugh. I quickly exclaimed,”Didn’t think so!” and I patted him on the shoulder with a laugh, and moved on with my lesson.
Another example….the Grade 4 and 5 students got to go on a trip out of province. I knew when the tour bus was in the parking lot that morning to load the students, what I’d be met with in my classroom. Can you hear it? Any guesses?…. “Why do the Grade 4 and 5’s get to go? We never get to do anything fun!” I was ready for the poor attitude and general “sulkiness” and responded (with my arms crossed and a slight foot stomp for good measure) “I know! I don’t get to go either! It’s so unfair! I have to stay here and teach! They didn’t even ask me – I don’t get to do anything fun.” Perhaps a little sarcastic – but you do what you’ve got to do, to survive (and thrive) with the hand you’ve been dealt. The kids couldn’t argue with me, because I’d sided with them and basically repeated what they’d just said, although making light out of the situation. They had nothing to say, so I finished with…”Oh well, I guess we’ll ALL just have to get over it!” and I went on about the morning routine.
If I’d outright addressed the blatant rudeness and disrespect in either of these situations, I would have been met with a fight. I don’t need to argue with twelve-year olds, thank you very much. I just don’t have the time, nor the desire.
I think you catch my drift, with the whole – laugh it off tactic. It depends on the day, the student, the situation and my mood. I’ve simply decided, that I’d rather laugh than cry (or scream) when at all possible. Wouldn’t you?
So, the next time your students are frustrating the heck out of you, try to find a tiny bit of humor in the situation and laugh or make a joke. Especially in the beginning, it often stops them cold, because it’s unexpected. The situation is defused, and you’re able to move on and teach (until the next time, that is).
What behavior management strategy do you find most useful in your classroom?
This blog post was written in response to the 5 Star Blog Challenge at The Organized Classroom Blog. Check out her link-up to find more 5 Star Blogs!