Ah, the proverbial new teacher. Obsessively checking his whiteboards for the precise phrasing of his classes’ daily learning targets . His stopwatch-perfected wait time. His accidental shirt-and-tie on a spirit-dress standardized assessment day. Eagerly multimodality-minded with desks arranged in communal, interaction-primed clusters on day one, but sucked of his zeal by day six because of something he doesn’t yet understand.
It must be the kids. After all, it’s the student’s job to learn.
“They just don’t want to learn.”
“All they care about are video games.”
“The classroom just isn’t the same as it used to be.”
“I can’t compete with their distraction with technology.”
Or maybe it’s the fault of the college programs that prepare the teachers.
“One semester of practicum and one semester of student teaching just doesn’t cut it for being prepared for the real world.”
Time changes everything. No, old-timers, I’m not talking about the song by Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys, but I guess that fits.
Every teacher’s optimistic the-sky’s-the-limit mentality ebbs and flows. It has to be resuscitated every now and then. There are different ways teachers do this: vacation, pleasure reading, blogging, social networking with a PLN, overtly strengthening the student/teacher relationship, differentiating instruction for interest and ability, adopting the good ideas and styles of others, attending a rejuvenating conference with other oft-deflated educators. If you want more ideas than these, check out Wolpert-Gawron’s Edutopia article, “Teachers: Staying Positive in Trying Times.”
Excuse-giving aside, first-, fifth-, and 30th-year teachers all have one thing in common when it comes to being prepared for classroom logistics, instructional strategies, gradual release, skill development, and student discipline: the need for a proven classroom management plan.
I just recently began using the CHAMPS classroom management system. The system uses acronyms for a few components of its system, but for this post, I just thought I’d share a slide I’ve created for the start of each of my class periods. I use it to briefly preview (30 seconds) each day’s instructional period. I realize the format might not be ideal for a school with different school colors and mascots than ours, but maybe it could be of use to someone. I know that for my classroom, the more structure with which I begin an instructional block, the better the outcomes are.
Students do have classroom responsibilities — jobs to do in the classroom. But teachers are responsible as managers in this pseudo-work environment to give them the proper structure to know how and build the capacity to succeed. That’s where a classroom management plan comes in, and it’s where teachers can begin sustaining the fervor.
If you use CHAMPS and have a great way you champion the system, pass your successes along in a comment. If you’d like me to email you a KeyNote or PowerPoint file of the above slide, comment with your email. I’ll make sure to leave your comment unapproved and not posted for other readers to see.