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Teaching Tips to Try Newsletter August 23

Teaching Tips to Try Newsletter August 23

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Published by Linda Cordes
Teaching Tips to Try Newsletter
August 23rd , 2009 From Linda The Math Coach http://www.lindathemathcoach.com

This Week’s Theme:

Classroom Management: You Create The Environment.
The Honeymoon Doesn’t Last Forever In fact, the honeymoon rarely lasts more than two days. Usually by the time you pass out that first pretest, the worms crawl out of the woodwork and start to test the water. They want to know where you stand, how firmly you stand there, and whether they can move you to stand somewhere else. So where do you stand on
Teaching Tips to Try Newsletter
August 23rd , 2009 From Linda The Math Coach http://www.lindathemathcoach.com

This Week’s Theme:

Classroom Management: You Create The Environment.
The Honeymoon Doesn’t Last Forever In fact, the honeymoon rarely lasts more than two days. Usually by the time you pass out that first pretest, the worms crawl out of the woodwork and start to test the water. They want to know where you stand, how firmly you stand there, and whether they can move you to stand somewhere else. So where do you stand on

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Published by: Linda Cordes on Aug 24, 2009
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Teaching Tips to Try Newsletter 
August 23rd , 2009From Linda The Math Coach
This Week’s Theme:
Classroom Management: You Create The Environment.
The Honeymoon Doesn’t Last Forever
In fact, the honeymoon rarely lasts more than two days. Usually by the time you pass outthat first pretest, the worms crawl out of the woodwork and start to test the water.They want to
 
know where you stand, how firmly you stand there, and whether they canmove you to stand somewhere else. So where do you stand on classroom management?If you are a new teacher, you may not be sure where you stand. If you’re listening to theteacher lounge discussion around you, you’re likely to hear lots of advice.“Don’t smile until Christmas.”“Make an example early on.”“Call parents.”“Put them out.”“Take away bathroom breaks, recess, passing time, etc.”There are plenty of suggestions flying around for how you can establish yourself as the boss and how to get “control” of your class. But is that the role you want to play, and doyou really want to control your students? There may be some days where all you want isquiet students sitting in desks listening attentively. But there is so much more to learningthan this.Relevant, rigorous, engaging instruction is not going to happen in an environment wherethe teacher is a controlling boss. Fear of authority doesn’t cut it. Your students need youto be a leader, facilitator, coach, and model of thinking and learning. You have to gaintheir attention, respect, and trust in order to move beyond compliance and on towardcooperation. Teaching and learning require an environment of collaborative cooperation.So, what about order and rules and procedures? You don’t want to be a pushover, doyou? Of course not.There is one thing you must keep in your mind and at the base of everything you do andsay in the classroom.
Stay focused on
 
why you want to be a teacher
. You lovelearning. You love inspiring others to learn. You want to make a difference. Is that easy
 
when students don’t share your vision? When they flat out don’t care? No it isn’t, butdid you expect it would be? Here in lies the challenge and the fun!
How do you make difference when they won’t stop talking to listen?
You have to be the difference. You have to think, talk, and do differently than the normaround you. Instead of focusing on worn out rules and elaborate systems of “interventions” and escalating “consequences,” focus on what you want students to do.Tell them what you want them to learn and what the consequences will be when theylearn. Find out what motivates them, what makes them tick as individuals. We’re nottalking just candy and pizza parties. Dig more deeply. What inspires them? What aretheir big dreams? Put opportunities out before them to create dreams. Play to their  positive emotions to get positive results.
Get Real
.You might be thinking that this won’t work. They’ll think you are a pushover. Your crowd is too rough and rowdy. Have you tried it? No, really tried it? Tried it and stuck with it until you begin to see results? If you think what you are doing now is working,ask yourself this:How do your students score on tests, any and all?How rigorous are your lessons?Are students engaged in accountable discussion, open ended problem solving, creatingand monitoring their own learning strategies?If you are not totally satisfied with how you answered those questions, here are threestrategies for you to try in your classroom that will make a difference and gaincooperation rather than mere compliance and set the stage for rigorous learning to take place.
Three Powerful Steps to Create an Engaging Learning Environment
1. Focus on what you expect.
Call it the Golden Rule, Karma, Law of Attraction, or whatever you like. It is no secretthat you will get more of whatever you give your attention to. Ask any observant parentor teacher, when you say, “Don’t do xyz!”and turn your back, xyz is exactly what will begoing on. Sometimes you don’t even have to turn your back! Even if they don’t do xyz,telling people what not to do leaves it wide open for what you do want. Fill it in for them.Identify for yourself what you want students to do. Map out in your mind what you wantyour classroom to look like and how you want students to act. How should they enter 
 
class? Where should they sit? When and how should they move around, laugh, talk,listen, question, argue, read, write, etc.? What do you want them to learn? What kind of thinking do you want them to experience? How do you want them to study? How do youwant them to set learning goals and monitor their own progress? How do you want themto grow intellectually?Then, tell them. Over and over, let students know what your expectations are. Just makesure that your expectations are positively stated. You will know when they are not.Student reaction is your gauge. A negative response is an indication that your expectationwas communicated in a negative way. Perhaps the expectation is essentially negative.Stop then and there to clarify for yourself whether that expectation is negative. Does itcome from your own negative belief? Maybe you just need to restate it differently.Students need to believe that you are focused on what is best for them. You could wastetime by reacting with discipline for a negative student response. You may gaincompliance. You know, win the battle lose the war. Why not invest time on clearingaway the negative response with positive and productive communication aimed atgaining cooperation?
2. Keep students constantly engaged with meaningful activity.
What students call “free time,” is what a DJ calls “dead air.” A master teacher thinks of itas wasted time. There are basically two kinds of wasted time during a typical class period. One is the time that the majority of students experience when they finish beforeothers and are waiting for everybody else to catch up. It happens during teacher guidedinstruction, group activities, and when transitioning between activities. Another time thatis wasted is when the lesson finishes early, or the test is collected ten minutes before the bell, or half the class just got called to an assembly, or pull out, or whatever.You do the math. Five minutes wasted X five days a week X thirty six weeks during aschool year is a huge hunk of time! It’s also time for students to get off track and intotrouble. Grandma’s favorite caution was something about idleness being a playgroundfor the devil. Don’t put that playground up in your classroom.Turn that “free time” into bonus learning time. Start collecting short sponge activities touse with individuals, groups, and whole class. Create a few learning stations whereindividuals or groups can get extra practice or enrichment or just engage in puzzlesolving or research. Some teachers provide students with pull out individual work thatthey store in their math notebook. Internet searches reveal a wealth of material that youcan quickly put into place for filling up so called free time.
3. Deal with disruption immediately and without interruption.
Disruptions do occur. Disgruntled students walk in late. Class clowns perform their latestact. Fights from the neighborhood resurface. The list goes on and on. You can’t ignorethem. They don’t go away. Most will escalate. You have to deal with them immediatelyand without interrupting the flow of the lesson. This is a skill for you to develop!

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