How to Have a Better Class Next Year

I know it seems a little early to be thinking about next year already, especially if you are wondering if you are even going to make it through THIS year. But Spring is actually the perfect time to revisit classroom routines and procedures.

Make Next Year BetterFor instance, let’s say you don’t like the way your students act after lunch. Or maybe you’re overwhelmed by homework and are spending way too much time grading papers and chasing down missing assignments.

You have a few ideas you’d like to try, but is it too late in the year to make changes? Absolutely not! In fact, the novelty of a new routine can sometimes be a catalyst for improving student behavior.

A natural time to revisit classroom routines and procedures is right after  Spring Break. Add your new procedure into the mix, and see how it goes. You can even let your students know you’re testing out something for next year and ask for their suggestions.

Once you and your students have debugged your new routine, you can roll it out next year, confident that it works. And who knows? Your new system might even help make things a little better this year, too.

Whatever you do, don’t wait till next year to make needed changes. You don’t have to continue doing something that’s not working, just because you’ve always done it that way.

Now go create a great day for yourself and your students!

Katrina Ayres, PositiveTeachingStrategies.com

PS – If you need help figuring out your new routine, I recommend two exercises from my book, The Take-Charge Teacher:

  • The What’s Bothering You exercise, where you make a list of things that are driving you crazy in your classroom, and
  • The Ideal Class exercise where you imagine everything going perfectly, and write it down, step by step.

TemplatesYou can get free templates for these two activities here, along with all the other resource materials from the book.

You may also want to ask your colleagues for suggestions, or search for ideas on educational websites or Pinterest. Or you could always ask your colleagues in our Awesome Teacher Nation private Facebook group. Ask to join here.

Gain Instant Access to the Awesome Teacher Nation Resources Library

With Solutions for Administrators, Classroom Teachers, New Teachers, Substitute Teachers, and more

Aggressive Student Behavior – What Teachers Can Do To Calm It Down

Aggressive student behaviors such as destruction of property, shouting, and running away are almost always caused by elevated levels of stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline – the “fight or flight” chemicals.

These chemicals make it impossible for students to think rationally. Worse yet, this impulsive, aggressive brain state can last 30 minutes to 3 hours per triggering event.

So what causes this chemical imbalance, and how can we help our students overcome it?

Prevent Aggressive Behavior

Aggressive behavior and elevated “fight or flight” hormones can be caused when the student feels attacked, especially if the attack is perceived as an assault on the student’s core personality. Working to understand how our students think and validate them can go a long way toward preventing aggressive behavior.

So how do you do that? There are many ways, but some of the best are: talk to them, listen to them, respect different approaches, notice what they like, point out things they are good at, respect their opinions (even when you disagree,) find things you have in common, be honest, and don’t make assumptions.

3 Ways to Clear Out Fight or Flight Hormones

Aggressive Students1 – Exercise. Walking, running, and playing games such as basketball can help prevent and reduce aggressive reactions. Allow students to “walk it off” when they get upset.

2 – Laughter. Reading a funny book, showing a silly video, or telling a joke can make students laugh. Laughter drains away cortisol and replaces it with oxytocin. Oxytocin calms the brain and makes it ready to learn.

3 – Togetherness. It can help to allow your aggressive student to talk things out with a friend or trusted adult. Class meetings, traditions, games, and shared rituals can prevent aggressive behavior by creating a sense of tribe or belonging within the classroom.

Do you have a way of de-escalating aggressive students? If so, I would love to hear from you! Please leave a comment below, or share your ideas in the Awesome Teacher Nation private Facebook group.

Now go create a great day for yourself and your students!

Katrina Ayres, PositiveTeachingStrategies.com

PS – Would you like more practical classroom management strategies that work? Check out the Monday Morning Sanity Boost archives. If you like what you see, you may want to gain access to even more strategies that I only share with Awesome Teacher Nation members. You can join here. It’s free!

Gain Instant Access to the Awesome Teacher Nation Resources Library

With Solutions for Administrators, Classroom Teachers, New Teachers, Substitute Teachers, and more

How to Get Your Students to Stop Wasting Time

Students Who Waste TimeDo you feel like your students never get anything done? Here’s how you can help them stop wasting time.

Have you ever wondered how a student can work for 3 weeks on a project and have nothing at all to show for it? Or even 3 hours. Heck, what about 3 minutes? Shouldn’t there be SOMETHING?

Some students seem to have a knack for wasting time. And this can be very frustrating when we have so little time to teach them so much. Another frustration is the activities students pursue when wasting time (like talking to their neighbors or re-purposing paperclips) can be disruptive to those in the class who ARE trying to work.

Students who waste time because of poor time management skills may underestimate how much time an assignment will take and decide they have time to go to the bathroom and talk to seven friends before getting started.

Why Students Waste Time

Students waste time for many reasons, including inability to do the work, lack of  motivation, or poor time management skills. As teachers we are familiar with strategies for differentiating instruction (shorten the assignment, work with partners, accept shorter answers) and motivating students (give rewards, offer choices.) But many of us assume our students know how to manage time – and many of them don’t.

Students who waste time because of poor time management skills may underestimate how much time an assignment will take and decide they have time to go to the bathroom and talk to seven friends before getting started.

Or they might take way too much time drawing a chart, choosing the perfect font, or coloring an illustration. It’s not that they don’t want to do the work – they just don’t know how to use their time effectively.

Practical Ways to Teach Time Management

If your students struggle with wasting time, here are a few practical ways to teach them time management.

  1. keep-it-snappyUse a timer for short daily activities, such as warm-up assignments, and allow the same amount of time (such as 3 minutes) every day. Afterward, talk about how much they were able to finish. This practice will help students learn how long 3 minutes is, and how much they can expect to finish in that time. (Bonus: Timers are also motivating for many students, because beating the clock becomes a game.)

  2. Before starting on independent or group work, have the students estimate how much time each part of the assignment will take. For example, if the exit ticket is 10 math problems and we have 20 minutes to do it, you have about 2 minutes to spend on each problem. Use your timer again to let the students know when 2 minutes have passed. Let them know it’s okay if they haven’t finished, but it’s time to move on and try the next one.

  3. When students are working independently, have them mark how much they got done in 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes, and so on. This will help them become aware of their own ability so they can make a better estimate.

  4. Help them figure out the most important part of the assignment. Talk about it before giving them the assignment, and encourage them to complete that part first.

  5. If your class (or a few students) really struggle with time, you can break down the assignment into parts for them and move from part to part at the same time, done or not. Then provide a “catch-up period” at the end for them to finish up anything they didn’t complete.

Kids (and many adults) waste time because of poor time management skills. Making the effort to teach our students effective time management skills will serve them well their whole lives.

Now go create a great day for yourself and your students!

Katrina Ayres, PositiveTeachingStrategies.com

PS – Would you like more practical classroom management strategies that work? Check out the Monday Morning Sanity Boost archives. If you like what you see, you may want to gain access to even more strategies that I only share with Awesome Teacher Nation members. You can join here. It’s free!

You May Also Be Interested In

Save Time on Transitions With This Simple Mind Shift

Gain Instant Access to the Awesome Teacher Nation Resources Library

With Solutions for Administrators, Classroom Teachers, New Teachers, Substitute Teachers, and more

How to Stop Defiance With This 30-Second Classroom Management Strategy

If you want to stop defiance (and who doesn’t?) one of the best ways is to develop a positive relationship with your students. But how are you supposed to do that when you can’t even have a normal conversation without attitude and challenges to your authority?

A Simple Strategy

Stop Defiance With This 30-Second Classroom Management StrategyLuckily there is a simple strategy that can work wonders in stopping defiance. It only takes about 30 seconds and you can start doing it immediately.

You already greet your students at the door as they come in your class, right? If you do, you probably say something like, “Hi (student)! How are you today?” And then maybe you check in homework, or hand out an assignment. Right?

This is all good, but if you want to stop defiance, you may want to take it one step further. You may want to go below the surface and let your students know you really care by adding another simple question to your routine.

After you greet your students by name and ask how they’re doing, what do they usually say? Something like “fine” or “okay” or “good,” right? (And if they are teenagers, they might just grunt or ignore you.)

The Defiance-Stopping Secret Phrase

The secret for stopping defiance comes after that, when you say, “And how are you REALLY?” and then listen. And empathize. Once you have heard their story, you can say something like, “I’m glad you feel happy. Thank you for sharing.” Or “I’m sorry you’re tired. Please let me know if there’s anything I can do to help. Thanks for letting me know.”

When you deliberately invest 30 seconds to find out how your students are feeling, you demonstrate that you care. And students are by far less defiant when they feel respected, heard, and validated.

Now go create a great day for yourself and your students!

Katrina Ayres, PositiveTeachingStrategies.com

PS – Would you like more practical classroom management strategies that work? Check out the Monday Morning Sanity Boost archives. If you like what you see, you may want to gain access to even more strategies that I only share with Awesome Teacher Nation members. You can join here. It’s free!
3 Myths

Gain Instant Access to the Awesome Teacher Nation Resources Library

With Solutions for Administrators, Classroom Teachers, New Teachers, Substitute Teachers, and more