If you've been with me for a while, you know that my first year of teaching was absolutely gut wrenching, but I learned a lot.
It was at the beginning of the year that I asked for my Vice Principal to come into my classroom and teach one of my lessons to my students. I needed help with how I could engage with my students, the ones who did not listen to a word I spoke.
I noticed that her demeanor was that of utter confidence and when she directed students to do something, such as stop talking, put the pencil down, and don't lean back in the chair, she said two magical words after her directions.
Those words were "thank you". And believe it or not, this actually worked! The kids stopped whatever it was and did what she asked. It's like she didn't even give them a chance to NOT do it because she was telling them thank you FOR doing it. And, like I said, she was standing tall with complete confidence as she spoke.
I experimented with these two magical words and I had the same reaction. The kids listened. I used this technique since that day forward. I even use it at home with my kids! It's not the end all, be all to better classroom management, but it certainly does help.
If you are struggling to get your students to listen, try giving the direction with confidence, immediately followed by "thank you". I sometimes follow that with silence and a teacher look, if the student does not cooperate right away.
"Arnold, please turn around and look at the board. Thank you." Look at Arnold until he turns around.
Of course, this is not full-proof, so what did I do when the student still did not listen? I put their name on the board as a reminder to follow up. This was not an official part of my classroom management plan that I went over with my students. And not everything you do with your students has to be. You are in charge. You make the rules. So whatever you want to do, you can do. Students have a say, especially if you use Responsive Classroom techniques, but in the end, it's your classroom that you are responsible for.
I would often put reminders on the board throughout the day, such as, email parents about field trip forms, get passes, collect notebooks. These things would come up and I would quickly write them on the side of the board so I wouldn't forget. Just as nonchalantly as I would write collect notebooks, if a student decided to ignore my directions, I would write his name.
Sometimes this would get the student to do what I asked (and I would still follow up). And sometimes when I would follow up, it involved discussing the behavior and implementing a consequence.
It's the time of year right now where we need to make sure we are not letting things get crazy. Or at least not appear to be crazy. Keeping students accountable even when it feels like we want to throw in the towel is what will make or break this time of year. Keep going! You are doing great! I promise.
Daughter of the King, wife and mother, former upper elementary teacher, curriculum and course developer