Saturday, August 19, 2017

Classroom Management

I'm a little intimidated writing a post on classroom management because I am no expert and I've had plenty of classroom chaos in my years.  What  I have become better at is rolling with the punches when things don't go exactly as planned.

For me, the best way to keep things going in the right direction in the classroom is engagement.  It's those idle times that lend themselves to a little monkey business from my darlings.  From the time they walk in until the bell rings at the end of 50 minutes, my goal is to  keep them busy.  Here are a few thoughts about what it means to me to "keep them busy."

  • I train my students to begin working on something as soon as they walk in the door.  Whether it's some problem they pick up on the shelf when they walk in the door, or a warm up activity I've posted on my screen, they learn really quick that when I walk in after the tardy bell, my expectation is that they are already working.
  • I try to vary my activities every 10 - 15 minutes to cut out the boredom.  Throw in at least one where they have to get up out of their seat an move around a bit.
  • I use a lot of group activities where I will select one from the group to grade, but I don't tell them which one ahead of time.  Each student has a different colored piece of paper and I draw the color to grade at the end of the period.
  • I find setting a time goal very helpful to keep them on task and up with the class.  I'll say something like "You have exactly 2 minutes and 32 second to complete the next problem and then we are moving on."  Not sure why this works, but its like they don't want to be left behind because they know we are moving on to something else after this.

The end of class is usually where I have my struggles for class structure.  Biggest pet peeve of mine is students who want to pack up and stand at the door before the bell rings.  I found myself saying a few too many times, "What, are we back in kindergarten, standing in line to leave the class?"  Totally my own fault, I'll own it, but I have to get better at this part of my class this year.  A teammate of mine suggested that I allow them to pack up 3-4 minutes before the bell, but then have one more quick closure to do until the bell.  I'm envisioning saying, "You have 2 minutes to pack up and be ready for...."  Hoping that this time goal will ensure they pack up quickly, but are still attentive to the fact that we are not done yet.   

My math team actually set a goal this year for all of us to work towards bell to bell engagement so maybe I'll have some more ideas to share as the year continues.   

Saturday, August 5, 2017


Gah!  Where did the last year go?  I cannot believe that it has been over a year since I last blogged.  I recently saw @jreulbach post about the new MTBoS Sunday Funday blogging initiative and am going to try and jump back into blogging more regularly.

So what kind of goals do I have this year?  Honestly, I sometimes become overwhelmed with all the things I want to do in my life in general, which then results in getting very little accomplished.  I know, I know, I need to just focus on one or two things to make it all more manageable.  This is a very hard thing for me to do.  Here's what I have so far...

Classroom Goals

  • Incorporate the use of the Desmos graphing tool in more lessons.  I was very inspired by @saravdwerfs post about Evangelizing Desmos and just how Desmos can be a game changer in the classroom and how it can build equity and access for all our students.  I want to use it to build great conversations and to help them see the math they are doing.
  • Student Reflection and Feedback.  This is another big one for me this year.  I want to really focus on teaching my students how to reflect on their learning by providing feedback to them in a variety of ways.  I want to get away from just getting the answer and being done.  I want them to really see the value in really digging deeper into the problems and being able to explain what their thinking was when they were solving the problem.  Not exactly sure how this will look, but I'm working on it.  

Professional Goals

  • Reflecting on my teaching even more.  Obviously if I value this for my students, then its something I need to model and refine for myself too.
  • Focus on being an encouragement for me team at school, seeking ways to build them up and help them become better teachers.

Personal Goals

  • I got really lazy about exercising last year, always with a good excuse why I couldn't make it to the gym.  This year I want to get to the gym more often and if I can't manage that I want to at the very least walk regularly.  
  • Be more consistent about cooking and eating healthier meals.  We will be down to just the two of us this fall as we send all four of our kids off to college.  I know that it would be easy to just grab something for the two of us, so I am going to have to really make an effort to plan and cook.

Just for Fun

  • I used to be more of an artsy kind of person, but just haven't had time to pursue those things in the last couple of years.  With my kids all out of the house I am hoping to dabble a little more in some crafting areas.  Right now hand lettering and calligraphy are on my radar, as well as pulling out the old rubber stamps to start making cards again.
  • Finally, reading.  I absolutely love to read and really hope to squeeze more of that into my life.

Well there it is, finally a blog post.  Now here's to hoping I don't wait another year to write again!