Hey Y’all …..your friendly Southern educator here. As I sit here looking at my fur babies and my flashing Christmas lights on my small, tabletop Christmas tree, I’m reminded more and more of how I’m trying to recreate the feeling of the holiday season from home.
How Christmas feels in China sometimes.
The past few weeks have been a whirlwind of emotion for me. A lot of downs and some ups, but I’ve taken a few days to just observe the affect of all the changes on myself and my furbabies. You know, children and animals are much the same. Your mood affects them and they have no idea how to react so they mishbehave. They not only act out, they become a huge mess. They get into things and tear things up and do exactly what they are told not to and they watch to see if you notice. Then you yell and they look at you with those eyes that say “who me?”
Oh such a mess they are! But then you have to figure out why are they a mess? Classrooms are just the same way. Our children at school are going through who knows what at home and they need a safe place to be themselves and know they will have a routine.
Do you want to strangle them? Of course. Do you wonder, “Oh Lord, what did I do to deserve these kids?” Yep, but truth is, you probably have those kids because they need you and you need to figure out how to help them.
Let’s visit our first classroom…
What in the world is going on, such loud noises…
Who is getting murdered
and where is the nearest exit?
Instead of fleeing for your life, you assume that they are all just innocent little darlin’s and someone is terrorizing them… so you hurry to save them! However, when you look in the window, you see no Freddy or Jason. Actually, you don’t even see a classroom. You see what seems to be a room filled with old chairs… Wait,are those coffee tables with pillows stacked around them? Is this even a classroom?
You step into the room…carefully, very very carefully…to see what kind of a mess this teacher is in.What you see is a bunch of kids sitting around talking, some with notebooks,some with art tools, some laying upside down on the couch and some sitting on the floor at the tables…but they all seem to be in some type of noisy discussion.
You look for the teacher. Oh there she is talking to a group, she’s on the floor too, really? She gets up and heads your way, just to stop and take part in the discussion at the table. Once again, she sits on the floor with them. It seems she spends time at each group, talking with them. You find the agenda on the board and it says this is group discussion time. You decide she will probably never make it to you, so you step back out into to the hall to ponder.
Oh my Lord, what a mess this is! Do I even want to know why or just pretend I didn’t see this? This would never, ever be my room!
Is this a place for LEARNING or a potential for CHAOS?
What does this classroom look like on the inside?
They don’t have a strict agenda, but they do have a basic outline. Greeting time in the morning, where they all gather together to talk about what they did the night before and get the social out of the way so the learning can begin. Assigning groups was a mess, so they form their own groups, but they have to move around and interact with others in the class that they wouldn’t normally see outside of class. This is the deal she made with them when setting up the classroom. She does have rules, but it’s a negotiation as to what works best for the students with her in control from the sidelines. They can sit and take notes and do their work from various places any way they choose, as long as their work meets the criteria.
(1:35 sec) Video about Group Work
She works based on their strengths, writers, artists, drama; however, they do have assignments based on standardized ways of assessment as well. She goes from group to group to monitor and adjust. To keep them on track and make sure they are gaining knowledge above what they already know. At the end of the day, they come back together to talk about the days activities.
Discussions are a must. She encourages opinions and debates. Digging deeper is the key.
She always asks:
- “Does everyone agree?”
- “Who disagrees?”
- “What’s your response to that?”
Does it drive her crazy sometimes? Oh yes! Does she have to learn to block out the chaos from time to time? Yep. But for 8 hours a day, she neglects her sanity, so her kids can learn in the best environment. As long as her kids are doing their best, she’s ok with the chaos.
Let’s take a look at another classroom.
What’s going on in here?
You glance to see what kind of room it is, seems to be a classroom of students, they have desks grouped together in 4s, but they aren’t sitting they are…what?!! bouncing? Each student has a large bouncy ball to sit on instead of a chair. What is in their hands? They seem to be playing with stuff, but they are not loud. They are listening and raising their hands. The teacher is walking around the room. She seems to be in a discussion of some kind. But why the balls and play things on the desks?
The classroom has tables and desks, but the chairs are not ordinary, some are stools, some benches, some big bouncy balls. Not everyone sits at a table or a desk, some use music stands to hold their papers and books, but their choices are limited to this. They can not go sit on the floor or have social time. They have to have a strict agenda and stay on task.
Since they are prone to losing concentration and want to be disruptive when they don’t understand or get bored, they have “play” or“stress” toys on the desks for them to fiddle with when they are thinking. There are strict rules to being able to use the “toys”. They are frequently taken away, but earned back. The teachers are in control, but not overbearing. There is a give and take. The students earn rewards in various ways that isn’t always about good marks or great test scores. It’s based on the individual’s ability.Students are paired up by who can help whom the most, not based on who they like or don’t like. The students are ok with this because the teachers have showed them that each person is different, and some are good at one thing but need help with another. It’s about balance.
Classroom management is about the kids!
Before you make assumptions about teachers and their methods, you have stop and figure out the “why” of the issue. You also have to stop and think about what is important here, the students or you? Who needs to feel comfortable enough to learn? Who needs to make sacrifices for whom? Our job as teachers is to make sure our students learn and can function and sometimes that means we sacrifice some of our sanity for the kids. It’s up to you to decide if you are able (or willing) to make those sacrifices.
Are you thinking….”I wish I had the freedom to experiment different ideas in my room”?
If I had a penny for every time I heard this, I’d be a millionaire! I’d open my own school for needy kids and only hire passionate teachers, I’d create a shelter for older animals who are thrown away in favor of cute little puppies and I’d build shelters for old people within the school. Or maybe just a school where we have old people and animals to help us learn!
BUT, reality is that most people just do the minimum requirements to get through the day the best they can themselves. They moan and complain about things they can’t do or aren’t allowed to do and they go through the motions with no meaning except that hopefully their students will pass the test and move on to another teacher the next year.
Classroom management and the ULTIMATE decision…
Do you stay and lose your passion and hate the environment every day and complain about what you “could” do, or do you leave and find a place where you “can” do? The choice is yours. You have the power to make adifference. Only you can make that decision. Do you keep your passion and search until you find the right fit or do you allow the waves to sink your boat?
I wish I could sell classroom management in a one size fits all box, but truth is……there is no one way. Each classroom size is different, each set of kids is different, each teacher is different, each decision comes from a different prospective. Management is observation based upon the needs of the kids.
Keep them safe, keep them learning and challenge them to do their best. Do whatever it takes and remember to love them!
Until next time………
Who is Christy?
I’m just a simple country girl who wanted to make a difference in children’s lives by becoming the best teacher/model I could. I want to promote teachers to be more than just a person in a room. I want to help them to love and guide all children to become the best person they can be. I truly believe all children deserve a chance, but those who are less likely to achieve greatness, need the most, loving, kindest teacher they can possibly have because they probably do not get this from anywhere else. We have the ability to shape and guide these children and lead on to greatness and life they deserve.
Want to know more? Add Christy’s WeChat to get to know more about her and all the great things she does with education. WECHATID: AuntieChristy
Scan this QR code to leave a tip!
Other Articles by Christy:
Want to be a guest writer? Contact us ASAP and let us know! We’d love to work together!