Top 4 Classroom Management Tips

Top 4 Classroom Management Tips
This is a guest post by Stacy Werner, music teacher at Rainbow Creek Elementary school in Chestermere.  I've observed Stacy teach and I'm always impressed at her classroom management skills.  In this newsletter, Stacy shares some of her ideas before the school year even begins.
As both an experienced classroom and specialist teacher, I realize there is a HUGE difference in classroom management in the specialist world. There is a whole different set of challenges you experience with teaching such a large student population, all with individual personalities and learning needs. Here are some tips to get your school year started off successfully:

1. Names

I know I listen better to someone who calls me by name. As daunting as it sounds (I teach 550+ students a week), putting the effort in to know all your students names will make a huge difference in the long run. Some ways to assist you in learning all your students names include:
  • Name Games: Play name games or songs at the start of the school year. I even continue doing a simple name song at the start of each kindergarten class up until Winter Break because I only see them once a week. Some of my favorite name games and songs from Musicplay include:
    • - Listen as I Play the Beat (Kindergarten Song #4)
    • - Hickety Tickety (Kindergarten Song #12)
    • - Number Concentration (Grade 3 Song #2)
    • - Concentration (Grade 5 Song #2)
  • Seating Charts: At the start of the year, I take the time to make seating charts on the risers for every class. I will even sit down in the evenings to study these charts. I use pictures of every student to make the charts so I can always connect a face to a name. A great APP to assist you in this process is IDoceo. The charts are also great to use for assessment and to leave for your sub plans.


2. Meet with the Learning/Behavior Support Teacher

Prior to a new school year I ask to meet with one of the learning support teachers in our school to discuss strategies and best practices to use with more challenging students. When you teach a large student population you need to be aware of what strategies you need to put in place before each class arrives for their first music class. I know I don’t like surprises and my class goes more smoothly if I am prepared. I will take notes during this meeting and also use/edit these notes as needed for my sub plans. After a few years in the same school and getting to know the students better, this meeting becomes more brief, but is still essential for me at the start of each year.

3. Entrance and Exit Routines/Expectations - Involve the Classroom Teachers

Starting your class off focused and ready to learn makes a big difference in having a successful lesson. If there is confusion and interruptions just getting your students into your classroom, it might be a more challenging class period. Prior to your first day of classes, these are a few key things to consider:
  • Think about how to transition your students smoothly from their homeroom classroom, to the music room, and back again.
  • Do you want their classroom teacher to drop them off and wait for you outside the music room? Do you want to pick them up and drop them off yourself?
  • What classes do these students have next?
  • What should my students be doing when they first come into my room?
  • What are some ways to line students up quickly and quietly?
Once you decide on some of these routines, send out an e-mail to the classroom teachers. Include some of the following items:
  • Explain to them that the more they adhere to your routine, the more prep time they will get and the more effective learning time you will get with the students.
  • Explain to the classroom teachers how important it is to get all the students to arrive at the same time. Getting interrupted by students coming late and leaving early from music class can be very disruptive, and you have to complete assessments on students as well (in a much more limited time frame!).
  • If you are on a cart and travel between classes, ask the classroom teachers to have the students desks clear (I’ve often had teachers doing large projects prior to me coming in and we spend time clearing these off or I don’t have the space to do the lesson I planned).  
  • Again if you are on a cart, ask the teachers to let you know if technology is not working, and be aware that you need some space to bring your cart into the classroom,
Make these expectations clear and don’t be afraid to send some reminders throughout the school year!

4. Behavior Form, Follow Up, and Documentation

Let’s face it, even putting in the time and effort to get set up for success we will still have bad days and need to use some consequences. Here is my process for dealing with behavior issues in class:
  • In my class, I try to focus on “Reminders” and “Good Listening”.
  • I give up to 2 reminders to a student. After the second time, they are removed from the activity and I have a desk set up where they can put their head down.
  • I try to bring them back into the activity after a few minutes break.
  • If they have troubles again, they are removed from the activity and I will ask them to go get their agenda from their classroom so I can write a note home.
  • From here, if we continue to have issues my school has a behavior form to fill out and send home. We call it a “Stop and Think” form. From this point we work as a team with the classroom teacher, administration, and the parents.

I keep a few “Stop and Think” forms printed out and ready to use in my classroom. This provides us with documentation and a plan to follow-up on the behavior in the future.  Click here to view the free behavior forms!

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