#MsSunFun: Classroom Management

What a beautiful fall day it is! My two pups woke me up EARLY, so I took them to the dog park to expend energy to allow me to get school work done.  I’ve been sitting at the computer for the last 2 hours while they sleep downstairs and have played on twitter, downloaded more fun/cute fonts (I have an addiction) and now I am doing my first MS Sunday Funday post to continue to procrastinate planning and grading. Yeah! I have a bunch of other posts I might crank out as well, many people want to know how Open House/Curriculum Night went…I promise that post will be next!

Classroom Management, do we ever get it right? I swear in my 13 years of teaching I have tried something new every year. A few things I hold on to and a few things I drop right away.  We are a PBIS (Positive Behavior Intervention System) school, so there are a few guidelines set into place school wide, which is helpful. I teach 8th grade, which is NOT helpful when dealing with classroom management. 🙂

This year I adopted @misscalculate’s Two Nice Things rule. I am SO glad that I came across that before the year started. I have always disliked the students being mean to each other and they love calling each other out with this rule when they are. It works great for my students and I do think that it is helping them consider what they say. Thank you @misscalculate! I created a poster for my room, I printed it on three sheets of paper taped them together and laminated it. Actually, I sent it to my district print center after the fact because I thought it was too small and had them print it on 11×17 paper in color and then I taped it together and laminated it. I hung it right above the smartboard in the front of my room. Here is the file if you want it:

In the 8th grade we use PRIDE cards (Producing Responsible Individuals Dedicated to Excellence) as our Positive reward. In 6th grade they get a ticket per good thing, in 7th they have a card with 10 signature spots (a teacher signs for good things) and in 8th we have 20 signature spots. They can then turn in a completed card for rewards or hold on to them until our end of quarter raffle, where we have gift cards and bigger prizes.  I like it, it seems to work, but I am always the teacher who forgets to ask them for their card to sign it. I made a goal to be better this year!

I believe that classroom management doesn’t always involve the classroom.  I do my best to be out in the hallway welcoming students before class (a la @ddmeyer), that happens about 60% of the time even though I KNOW how important it is. The other issue is my room is in a corner with another classroom door (doors make an L shape) and another classroom to my left, so it is a traffic jam every period. Any suggestions on how to get myself outside my door? I also send home positive postcard randomly when I am impressed with something, when a student does something well, or when I see someone struggling and I think they need a boost. File is below. I attend school functions (games, meets, matches, concerts, etc) to show support. I like talking to a student the next day about what I saw them do the day before.

Consequences? I always talk about respect being the most important since they are 8th grade students, but there are always those yahoo’s who want to push all limits.  The school is on a step 1-warning, step 2-call home/2nd warning, step 3-detention system. Here is how I make that system work for me: (Side note: due to the parent clientele in my district, documentation is necessary (we get called out a lot), especially with student input on the documentation, this should explain the need for the forms below)

Warning – When they are given a warning, I have a slip they are given to fill out. It’s copied on bright pink paper (see below). I tell the students that in order to keep the class moving in the little (41 minutes) time we have, I will place it on their desk, they fill it out and then we will have a conversation about it before the end of the period. Sometimes that conversation clears up a misunderstanding on my part and I throw away the warning and sometimes the warning goes in my file. Students want to be heard, so I find that small discussion about the warning is helpful.

Warning – part 2 – Tardies and being unprepared go on a separate form (copied on bright green paper) because of some reason I can’t remember now. I think part of it was for space and because those two actions weren’t directly related to what I consider in class behaviors. Either way, it still serves as a warning for the tardy, but solely as documentation for the homework piece. Homework is not graded in my class but is required to do, so I like having that documentation when I speak to the student about the homework or have to call a parent about it. see form below:

Steps 2 & 3 – School Detentions are served before or after school, but are school wide, so they don’t serve with me. They serve with whatever teacher has detention duty at the time they serve.  I don’t particularly like that so I have implemented a lunch conversation with me for step 2.  The student has to spend their lunch with me talking about their behavior and whatever else we end up talking about.  I don’t intend to make it “fun”, but I try to show them why their behavior affects the classroom and we talk about solutions. I tell the students this is my way of giving that final reminder that a “real” detention is next. Usually it doesn’t get to step 3. See below for this pass (copied on purple)

I keep all of this in a fantastic folder thing (originally purchased at Target YEARS ago-will add picture tomorrow) that has a folder for each period where I keep the form below and places to keep referrals, detentions, etc. I keep all of the slips in a metal holder on my desk so I can get the one I need. Because of the student filling out the form piece, I don’t have to stop class to write anything at that moment in binder. I tend to do it all at the end of the day, as needed.I don’t always need all this stuff I have put in place, but one year when we had a very disruptive group of students, and parents who believed everything their child said, my documentation was awesome!

Here is where I need help from all of you…I have realized that even with my system and how well it does work, I tend to not like to give the warnings for excessive talking because everyone is always doing it. Am I really going to walk around and hand out 15 warnings?  We have implemented CRISS strategies this year, I mainly use the Voice Levels (seen below, document was given to me by another teacher who I think grabbed it online so I can’t credit it). However, the TALKING is always such a problem.  I HATE shushing, I dislike when students pipe in with “Quiet guys, she is waiting”, and I hate that they like to talk when I breathe. Mind you I am only talking for maybe 10 minutes or 15 minutes of the period via direct instruction (& it’s not always together), so I am not asking for much, but they can not get it. I am fine with all of the talking when they are working together and I do redirect the social talking at that time, but they talk during quizzes (only my Pre-Algebra classes do), even though I walk around and warn about cheating. I do #SBG so taking the quiz away and giving them a zero doesn’t have much effect.  It doesn’t help that they were known to be a chatty bunch from the 7th grade teachers. Supporting documentation #1 – I was out on Wednesday because I had a meeting at the district office for the math #CCSS curriculum committee I am on. Note from my sub? They would not stop talking at all. Any suggestions on how I can combat this?

I am glad I jumped in on the MS Sunday Funday! I hope maybe I contributed something that someone will be able to use OR will give me some better suggestions on how to improve!

Now, I am finally off to plan, grade and plan some more!

5 thoughts on “#MsSunFun: Classroom Management

  1. Pingback: Classroom Management – MS Sunday Funday | I Speak Math

  2. I, too, am struggling with the talking with my 9th graders. I like the noise level indicator you have- I may have to try that when they are doing partner/group work because they sometimes get a little rowdy. I have not figured out how to handle it other than writing names on the board for disrupting the class, not following procedures, etc. with X’s (3 strikes and then a lunch detention). They HATE when their name is on the board, so it usually gets them to stop the talking, but it hasn’t really prevented it. Respect is a BIG thing in both my school and my classroom, but I am thinking they fail to really understand what it means (even though we discussed it at length on the first day of school, including all the things that should and should not be done). If I find some magical method to curb the non-math chatter, I’ll be sure to let you know! Good luck!

    • Thanks for the response! I was thinking of names on the board too; it just drives me insane because it is SO elementary. I was out Friday and one class was really really naughty. Talking during a quiz and such…that one period is going to drive me insane!

  3. My classes are super chatty too…drives me crazy. It’s not a productive chatter either. I like your warning slips…I am going to try those this week. Thanks for posting all these great ideas!

    • The best part about the warning slips is simply picking them up and walking around with them while I am doing short direct instruction or facilitating the activity. They know the bright neon pink slips are warnings. 🙂

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