Before you read this you should go read Jason’s post about classroom management for new teachers. It’s real good.
A friend of mine just started teaching middle school and she wants to meet up and talk about classroom management before I leave. I am really good at talking about stuff. You want to talk about classroom management I can totally do that. I really paid attention in the credential program. I read A LOT. You want to know what you should do? Hell yea, I can tell you that. I can talk about that. I am a champion of what you should do.
Here’s the three things I actually did do:
1. I did learn all of the kids names with in two days. I happen to be good at names.
2. I did make them fill out a semi-lame survey about themselves where half of them lied about stuff I found out later. It’s pretty lame.
3. I did talk about myself. I didn’t lie.
I also had all these great plans about how I would do tardies and how I would keep track of things so the students who were absent would know what to do. I had plans for making rules together which is in every management book ever. I had plans to write out daily lesson plans. Really I had plans about plans. In truth, I didn’t do any of those things.
So, how did I manage my classroom? What highly researched method did I employ?
Well…I… ummm… I guess… I… I managed my classroom on sheer force of personality.
I have 9 years of camp experience which included getting up to 200 kids to do things and 20 staff members to make those things happen. So yea, I have a fair amount of personality and I know how to use it.
I know how to talk to kids to make them feel smart, I know how to make them realize they are doing the wrong thing without feeling shame and I know when a kid just needs to be made fun of a bit. What I don’t know is how to teach someone that. I can’t give a new teacher advice on when to do any of those things. I can’t even tell you what I said because it varied from kid to kid. I don’t know how to teach you to make kids want to make you happy but mine always do.
The kids want to make me happy. When they disappointed me they got upset. That makes classroom management substantially easier.
I am by no means the best classroom manager in any group of teachers but what I did worked for me. That is probably the most important thing I can write in this post. If you are a new teacher or you haven’t even started yet I have this: do what works for you. Be you. Don’t try to suddenly be the most organized teacher if you are not, don’t have a super loud classroom if that bothers you, don’t do something that you have heard is good if it makes you feel awkward. Save that stuff for year two or three or even five.
Now, I’m not saying don’t stretch yourself. I’m just saying, if you are not genuine the kids will know. And that will not make your life easier.