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Common management mistakes

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Common Management Mistakes

These are the most common mistakes I see teachers make that undermine their management.

  • Making one student’s misbehavior a whole class event

I have seen teachers yell at a student across the room. It does nothing but escalate a face off between teacher and student as the student makes a counter move to save face. More effective- move closer to the student and make it a private conversation. It is less confrontational and more respectful of the student.

  • Poor tone

This one is difficult to describe in words. Any time you correct a student your voice should be neutral, but firm. You may be boiling mad inside, but letting them see it will only make the situation worse. Remember – you want to make this about the behavior not the child. Getting angry or using a snarky tone makes it about the child.

  • Blaming the student, not the behavior

Classroom management is about maximizing positive behaviors and minimizing negative ones. It isn’t personal. We all do things we shouldn’t – just today I drove to the office going 20 mph over the speed limit and cut two people off because I was late to open the door for the CLC mtg. It doesn’t mean I’m a bad person – just someone who could’ve made a better decision and left earlier so she wasn’t running late. Every interaction you have with a child (or arguably any person you come in contact with) either builds them up as a person and makes them feel intrinsically valuable or breaks them down and makes them feel worthless. Make it clear in each conversation, verbally and non-verbally, you have about behavior that it is the choice or the behavior that you are disappointed in and that you still value that child as a person.

  • Ambiguous expectations

You can’t be upset about bad behavior if you don’t share with your students what kind of behavior you expect. In the example I shared about my own bad directions, I was guilty of this very thing. My directions were unclear, my students weren’t sure what to do and how to do it, and I was frustrated with the way they acted. I had no one to blame but myself. As soon as I gave better directions, they behaved the way I wanted.

  • Inconsistency

Teaching is like running a marathon – it is long and tiring. It takes a lot of energy to address undesireable behavior some days and when you stayed up til 3 am finishing that lesson plans it’s easy to say “well, I’ll just let the talking slide for today.” Don’t do it! Walk, crawl, or roll yourself across the floor and deal with it. Students pick up on inconsistency and letting things slide can quickly unravel all your hard work.

  • No plan

One of the best teachers I know once said to me, “if you don’t have a plan for your students they will have a plan for you.” He was no liar. Classroom management is not something you can “wing.” You better have a plan, Sam.

But for those of you who like to watch a train wreck, let’s talk about the two ways I’ve seen this go. Some no plan teachers are cornered into shear paralysis. They have no plan and so when bad behavior starts to happen they do nothing. Once students see nothing happens, you guessed it, they continue to do bad things. The teacher is up at the board, doing his very best to carry on with his lesson and his students are talking, throwing things, out of their seat, turned around, hitting each other and cursing. It was like a game of truth or dare and the students just kept pushing the envelope to see just how much he would let them get away with.

The other type of no plan teacher is the threatener. Students started to misbehave and the teacher delivers empty threats or consequences that are not logical or gradual. “If you don’t stop it….” But the students keep on going until the teacher gets so mad he yells at a student, “If you don’t stop it I’m going to talk to your football coach and he will throw you off the team.” Oh boy. I wanted to jump up behind the desk and yell “take it back! take it back! You don’t mean that!” There was no way that teacher could deliver on that threat. Then, not only had he lost control of the situation by yelling, but he was going to completely lose face when the student did not get thrown off the football team.

Words are a funny thing – once they’re out of your mouth there is absolutely no way to stuff them back in. Having a plan will prevent you from having many regrets.

Written by theonlinepd

March 16, 2008 at 9:00 pm

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