When Students Bicker And Argue

If a positive, low-key strategy can work, isn’t it worth giving it a try before more confrontational and heavy-handed traditional approaches?

You could feel the tension rising across the gym. Disputes over the rules. Name-calling. “Accidental” pushing and shoving. There’s a reason they call it “chemistry,” and this PE class was getting ready for an explosion.

Escalating Disagreements

Whenever students bicker and pick at each other verbally, it’s disruptive, contagious, and annoying. But if it starts to escalate, it can easily become a safety issue, especially in PE class.

When I arrived to pick up my class from PE, I didn’t know about the insults and chest-thumping that had been going on. What I saw was a calm, happy group of students, sitting in a circle giving each other compliments. I thought this was just the way this teacher ended the class every day. I loved it so much, I asked her about it after school.

A Mood-Lifting Strategy

“I could see they were starting to get on each other’s nerves, so I had to do something,” she said. “I started off by awarding a few students tickets for great things they had done during class. Then I awarded more tickets to anyone who gave someone else a sincere compliment. Pretty soon the mood settled down and the problem was over.”

The Power of Seeing the Positive

I was amazed. Instead of penalizing the students by making them sit on the bench or writing up a tracking form, this teacher used the power of seeing the positive. Even better, she got the whole group to leverage that power and make the problem go away.

Will this always work? Of course not. But I saw with my own eyes that it can work. And if a positive, low-key strategy can work, isn’t it worth giving it a try before more confrontational and heavy-handed traditional approaches?

The compliment strategy will definitely be going into my bag of tricks, and I hope it will become part of your repertoire, too.
Now go create a great day for yourself and your students!

Katrina Ayres, Positive Teaching Strategies

Additional Awesome Teacher Nation Resources

Books

  • Create a Great Day for Yourself and Your Students
  • 5-Minute Classroom Management Hints
  • The Take-Charge Teacher
  • All The Ways I Screwed Up My First Year of Teaching
  • The Classroom Teacher’s Coloring Book
  • The Classroom Teacher’s Coloring Book, Volume 2

VideosAwesome Teacher Nation TV videos, including:

  • Why Threats and Punishments Don’t Work
  • Saving Time on Paperwork and Grading
  • 7 Strategies to Deal With the Pencil Sharpener
  • What’s the BEST Classroom Management Strategy?

Online Courses

  • Taming the Chaos: How to Create and Effective Classroom Routine
  • Making Money as an In-Demand Substitute Teacher
  • A Day in the Life of a Substitute Teacher
  • The Substitute Teacher’s Troubleshooting Guide

Gain Instant Access to the Awesome Teacher Nation Resources Library

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

Preventing Bad Behavior Habits

Things you will never hear a teacher say:

“Please write your spelling words ten times incorrectly.”
“Look away from the ball.”
“Place your fingers on the wrong keys, and practice your scales.”

Practicing a Skill Incorrectly Will Lead to Mistakes

Preventing Bad Behavior HabitsIt makes absolutely no sense to ask a student to practice doing a skill incorrectly.

In fact, when it comes to fundamental skills for academic success, we continually model best practices and give students many opportunities to practice getting it right, helping them develop the good habits we know will lead to success.

Practice Until You Get It Right

Once students know how to hold their pencils, their creative ideas can blossom in writing and drawing. Once they know how to hold a book, they can read for hours without strain. It’s all about learning how to use your tools correctly, and they way to do that is practice until you get it right.

Teachers Often Fail to Have Students Practice Behavior Skills

So why in the world do teachers fail to ask their students to practice the correct way to perform basic behavioral skills, such as how to ask a question in class, how and when to sharpen their pencils, how to treat a textbook, how to use their phone or tablet for academics, and so on? Aren’t they the same?

I have even seen teachers ask students to do behavioral skills incorrectly (“Who can show me the wrong way to sit in your seat?”) in an effort to help them discriminate between the correct and the incorrect way.

While I believe it is important for the teacher to show common mistakes and why they won’t work (both in academics and behavior), asking students to practice doing it wrong will result in confusion, and ultimately, in the student developing bad behavioral habits that will get in the way of their academic learning.

You would never ask a student to demonstrate how to solve for X incorrectly on the document camera! Don’t do it with behavior, either. Practice doesn’t make perfect. Practice makes permanent. So teach your students the skills they need, and have them practice doing it perfectly so that they can succeed.

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

Katrina Ayres, Positive Teaching Strategies

Additional Awesome Teacher Nation Resources

Books

  • Create a Great Day for Yourself and Your Students
  • 5-Minute Classroom Management Hints
  • The Take-Charge Teacher
  • All The Ways I Screwed Up My First Year of Teaching
  • The Classroom Teacher’s Coloring Book
  • The Classroom Teacher’s Coloring Book, Volume 2

VideosAwesome Teacher Nation TV videos, including:

  • Why Threats and Punishments Don’t Work
  • Saving Time on Paperwork and Grading
  • 7 Strategies to Deal With the Pencil Sharpener
  • What’s the BEST Classroom Management Strategy?

Online Courses

  • Taming the Chaos: How to Create and Effective Classroom Routine
  • Making Money as an In-Demand Substitute Teacher
  • A Day in the Life of a Substitute Teacher
  • The Substitute Teacher’s Troubleshooting Guide

Gain Instant Access to the Awesome Teacher Nation Resources Library

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

Why Panic Is a Bad Classroom Management Strategy

No matter what’s going on in your classroom, don’t panic!  I’m not promising you everything will be okay – how could I know that?  The only thing I know for sure is that panicking won’t help.  It will just take a bad situation and make it worse.

That Out-of-Control Feeling of Panic

I know that out-of-control feeling, and it isn’t pretty.  Case in point – It’s the first day of school. I am in front of a class of 42 7th graders, many of whom swagger into the room in gang-banger droopy pants and baseball hats (which is a violation of dress code.)  They talk trash to each other across the room – loudly – and completely ignore me, the teacher, standing up here in the front of the room.

Panic Seems Reasonable, But Not Helpful

Why Panic is a Bad Classroom Management StrategyPanic seems reasonable.  However (I remind myself) not helpful.  What will change if I take a moment to compose myself?  Nothing.  They will keep talking, but I will have regained my composure.

Breathing a couple of times, I take a look around the room.  Of the 42, only seven are actually trash talking and being loud.  The others are either quiet, or talking with their friends – just what I would do while waiting for class to start.  True, I still have a problem, but it’s not the all-encompassing rebellion I initially thought.

I decide to pretend the seven swaggerers aren’t there, and address the 35 students that are just fine (and waiting to see how I’m going to react.)  Another deep breath, and I start class just as I had planned.  No, it wasn’t perfect, and yes, I did need to redirect.  But at least I kept my sanity, and didn’t alienate the rest of the class by blaming them for the minority of students who were acting out.

Will staying calm solve all your problems?  Of course not, but at least you won’t make a bad situation worse.  And who knows?  You may discover it isn’t as bad as you initially thought.

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

Katrina Ayres, Positive Teaching Strategies

Additional Awesome Teacher Nation Resources

Books

  • Create a Great Day for Yourself and Your Students
  • 5-Minute Classroom Management Hints
  • The Take-Charge Teacher
  • All The Ways I Screwed Up My First Year of Teaching
  • The Classroom Teacher’s Coloring Book
  • The Classroom Teacher’s Coloring Book, Volume 2

VideosAwesome Teacher Nation TV videos, including:

  • Why Threats and Punishments Don’t Work
  • Saving Time on Paperwork and Grading
  • 7 Strategies to Deal With the Pencil Sharpener
  • What’s the BEST Classroom Management Strategy?

Online Courses

  • Taming the Chaos: How to Create and Effective Classroom Routine
  • Making Money as an In-Demand Substitute Teacher
  • A Day in the Life of a Substitute Teacher
  • The Substitute Teacher’s Troubleshooting Guide

Gain Instant Access to the Awesome Teacher Nation Resources Library

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

The Importance of Ritual

Have you ever seen some of the things teachers do when they’re hoping for a snow day? They suddenly change from rational human beings to superstition machines. One of my friends sleeps with her pajamas inside-out and a spoon under her pillow. My principal wears special snowflake earrings.

We all know that snow dances don’t affect the weather, but there is still a powerful something about rituals that can’t be denied.

Rituals Are Everywhere

You see it everywhere-in the bowler who does the high-five-low-jive with his team members after a strike; in the way you line up your colored pencils in ROYGBIV order before working on your art project; in the special extra words your kids add to the Happy Birthday song.

I believe it’s important to use rituals in the classroom to encourage positive actions, build community, and celebrate achievements.

Classroom Rituals That Build Community

Here are a few examples:

  • Fist pump for every correct answer when correcting a math facts test
  • Positive and/or funny good-bye call-and-response protocol to end class each day
  • Students sit in the teacher’s chair when sharing their writing with the class
  • Joke of the day to start class
  • Special music for cleanup and other transitions
  • Hand jive or secret handshake as the students leave
  • Secret word that means it’s time to pack up

Increase Academic Achievement With Rituals

Inside jokes and shared routines tell your students they belong. When students feel they belong, they are less likely to skip school. When their achievements are recognized and celebrated (even with a silly fist pump) they try harder. And of course, attendance and trying harder are directly related to academic achievement. Plus – the more they feel they belong, the less they will challenge your authority!

Rituals do not have to be complicated, long, or even funny. They just need to add a little touch of meaning to the everyday happenings in your classroom.

Give it a try! You may be surprised at the difference it makes.
Now go create a great day for yourself and your students!

Katrina Ayres, Positive Teaching Strategies

Additional Awesome Teacher Nation Resources

Books

  • Create a Great Day for Yourself and Your Students
  • 5-Minute Classroom Management Hints
  • The Take-Charge Teacher
  • All The Ways I Screwed Up My First Year of Teaching
  • The Classroom Teacher’s Coloring Book
  • The Classroom Teacher’s Coloring Book, Volume 2

VideosAwesome Teacher Nation TV videos, including:

  • Why Threats and Punishments Don’t Work
  • Saving Time on Paperwork and Grading
  • 7 Strategies to Deal With the Pencil Sharpener
  • What’s the BEST Classroom Management Strategy?

Online Courses

  • Taming the Chaos: How to Create and Effective Classroom Routine
  • Making Money as an In-Demand Substitute Teacher
  • A Day in the Life of a Substitute Teacher
  • The Substitute Teacher’s Troubleshooting Guide

Gain Instant Access to the Awesome Teacher Nation Resources Library

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

Tattling and Advice-Seeking

Tattling Students“My friend lied to me!”

“My parents are getting a divorce!”

“My boyfriend broke up with me!”

“Everyone’s gossiping about me!”

“He cut in front of me in line!”

When students come to us with personal problems it’s easy to fall into one of two extremes—dismiss the problem as unimportant (“I’m sorry. Go play with someone else.”) or get drawn into the drama and spend hours counseling and problem-solving (“Who’s gossiping about you? What did they say? Let’s have a meeting and work it out.”)

On one hand, as trivial as some problems may seem to us, they are still important to our students, and it’s disrespectful to minimalize them. On the other hand, as important as some issues sound, we may be making them even worse by intervening.

Of course your response will depend upon the maturity of your students and the severity of the problem. But in nearly every case the goal should be to help our students develop problem-solving skills instead of solving the problem for them.

Questions That Empower StudentsNext time a student comes to you with a problem try asking these three questions:

1—What have you done about this problem so far? (You can skip this question if they’ve already told you a long story.)

2—What do you think you’ll try next? (Helps them own the problem and empowers them to solve it.)

3—What can I do to help? (Clarifies their motivation for coming to you, expresses sympathy, and defines your role as a concerned adult, not a magic problem-solver.)

Sometimes you don’t need all three questions. For example, for outright tattling, question #3 might take care of it. And sometimes when you ask question #2, students will realize they really don’t want to do anything about the problem—they just wanted a sympathetic ear.

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

Katrina Ayres, Positive Teaching Strategies

Additional Awesome Teacher Nation Resources

Books

  • Create a Great Day for Yourself and Your Students
  • 5-Minute Classroom Management Hints
  • The Take-Charge Teacher
  • All The Ways I Screwed Up My First Year of Teaching
  • The Classroom Teacher’s Coloring Book
  • The Classroom Teacher’s Coloring Book, Volume 2

VideosAwesome Teacher Nation TV videos, including:

  • Why Threats and Punishments Don’t Work
  • Saving Time on Paperwork and Grading
  • 7 Strategies to Deal With the Pencil Sharpener
  • What’s the BEST Classroom Management Strategy?

Online Courses

  • Taming the Chaos: How to Create and Effective Classroom Routine
  • Making Money as an In-Demand Substitute Teacher
  • A Day in the Life of a Substitute Teacher
  • The Substitute Teacher’s Troubleshooting Guide

Gain Instant Access to the Awesome Teacher Nation Resources Library

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

Explaining Yourself

I personally love it when a principal says, “Because I said so,” when I ask why I have to do some seemingly illogical task, such as wrapping my bookcase in paper at the end of the year. “Because I said so,” makes it SO much more likely I will happily follow the directions. (I hope you hear the sarcasm dripping from every word I am saying.)

Have You Ever Said “Because I Said So?”

Yet… I have been known to occasionally utter those dreaded words myself. Sometimes I’m just tired of constantly explaining myself and justifying my decisions to someone who has only been on the planet a fraction of the time I have. (And sometimes I’m just tired. After all, it IS May.)

Student-Centered Reasons

You can inoculate yourself against the temptation to say “because I said so” by creating a student-centered rationale for your classroom routines, procedures, and rules. The important words here are “student-centered.”  The question to ask yourself is: How will it benefit the students to do whatever it is I am asking them to do? The more you can tune in to what the students want, the more likely they will want to do what you ask.

Consider these examples:

Task Bad Reason Teacher Centered Student Centered
Put your name on your paper Because I said so I’m tired of figuring out who turned in what You want to get credit for all your hard work
Line up quietly Because I said so You’re giving me a headache with all your noise You want to get to lunch on time, don’t you?

You do not have to explain yourself every time you ask the students to do something. But it’s a good idea when you are first teaching them a classroom routine, and it’s also a much, much better reply when challenged than “Because I said so.”
Now go create a great day for yourself and your students!

Katrina Ayres, Positive Teaching Strategies

Additional Awesome Teacher Nation Resources

Books

  • Create a Great Day for Yourself and Your Students
  • 5-Minute Classroom Management Hints
  • The Take-Charge Teacher
  • All The Ways I Screwed Up My First Year of Teaching
  • The Classroom Teacher’s Coloring Book
  • The Classroom Teacher’s Coloring Book, Volume 2

VideosAwesome Teacher Nation TV videos, including:

  • Why Threats and Punishments Don’t Work
  • Saving Time on Paperwork and Grading
  • 7 Strategies to Deal With the Pencil Sharpener
  • What’s the BEST Classroom Management Strategy?

Online Courses

  • Taming the Chaos: How to Create and Effective Classroom Routine
  • Making Money as an In-Demand Substitute Teacher
  • A Day in the Life of a Substitute Teacher
  • The Substitute Teacher’s Troubleshooting Guide

Gain Instant Access to the Awesome Teacher Nation Resources Library

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

4 Simple Hints to Prepare for a Sub

Worried About Leaving Your Class With a Sub?

If you are sick or at a meeting, you shouldn’t have to worry what’s happening in your class.

Do you go to school when you’re sick because it’s too much work to get ready for a sub? If you have to be gone for a meeting, do you worry what’s happening in your absence? Will your room be a mess when you get back? Will you have to deal with discipline referrals, parent complaints, and student conflicts?

4 Simple Hints to Prepare for a Sub

Although it is the substitute’s job to maintain order while you are gone, there are a few things you can do to make it easier. And if the sub has a good day, you won’t have to waste time on damage control when you get back. Here are a few helpful hints:

1- Prepare your students ahead of time. Spend time teaching your students what you expect them to do when you are gone. Teach your expectations at the beginning of the year and review them (if possible) the day before you will be gone. If you can leave a written copy of your expectations for the sub, so much the better. You can even request the sub rate your class on how well each expectation was followed (and/or have the students rate themselves) and reward your class accordingly when you return.

2- Make sure the students know their work will count, even when you’re gone. If you are a secondary teacher, schedule a quiz, test, or graded assignment to be collected at the end of the period. If you’re an elementary teacher, provide individual work to reinforce what you’ve been doing in class. Avoid obvious throw-away activities such as word searches, coloring, or assignments which have nothing to do with what you’ve been working on.came to school sick to avoid writing sub plans

3- Think twice before leaving a video. In the first place, the room will be darkened, making it more difficult for the sub to see what’s going on. In the second place, if there are technical issues with the video, it will be very difficult for the sub to maintain control of the class and troubleshoot at the same time. In the third place, kids know adults use videos for babysitting, reinforcing the message that nothing counts when you are gone. If you do plan for the sub to show a video, require the students to take notes, take a quiz, or do a writing assignment about it.

4- Let the substitute teacher know what types of activities are acceptable for early finishers. Idle or bored students make trouble even for regular teachers. It’s even worse for subs.

If you are sick or at a meeting, you shouldn’t have to worry what’s happening in your class. Plan ahead so you will have peace of mind.

Katrina Ayres, Positive Teaching Strategies

Additional Awesome Teacher Nation Resources

Books

  • Create a Great Day for Yourself and Your Students
  • 5-Minute Classroom Management Hints
  • The Take-Charge Teacher
  • All The Ways I Screwed Up My First Year of Teaching
  • The Classroom Teacher’s Coloring Book
  • The Classroom Teacher’s Coloring Book, Volume 2

VideosAwesome Teacher Nation TV videos, including:

  • Why Threats and Punishments Don’t Work
  • Saving Time on Paperwork and Grading
  • 7 Strategies to Deal With the Pencil Sharpener
  • What’s the BEST Classroom Management Strategy?

Online Courses

  • Taming the Chaos: How to Create and Effective Classroom Routine
  • Making Money as an In-Demand Substitute Teacher
  • A Day in the Life of a Substitute Teacher
  • The Substitute Teacher’s Troubleshooting Guide

Gain Instant Access to the Awesome Teacher Nation Resources Library

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

Respond Instead of React

Maybe you’re A very patient person who responds calmly in almost every situation. You don’t get upset no matter what your students say or do. If that’s you, you probably don’t need to read any more. Just go on with your peaceful day, smiling beatifically at me as I stomp down the hallway, fuming about some crazy thing one of my students just did.

My actions seem almost instantaneous and involuntary, and I react (like a chemical reaction) instead of responding (like a reply to a greeting.)

Watch Respond Instead of React on Awesome Teacher Nation TVLuckily, even those of us lacking superhuman patience can learn to respond more and react less when we’re angry. Here are a few suggestions.

1 – Plan your response ahead of time. Think about a recurring situation where you tend to respond with anger. Write down what you wish you had said or done last time and picture yourself saying and doing those things next time. You might even rehearse. It’s especially powerful to actually practice in place, such as in your “teaching spot.”

2 –  Be conscious of how you tend to feel before, during, and after upsetting events. How does your body feel? What kinds of thoughts do you think? For instance, when I’m angry I usually feel a heavy stomach, heat on the back of my neck, tense shoulders, and clenched teeth. I think things like “here we go again” and “you better not mess with me.” When I notice myself starting to feel these sensations and think those thoughts, I know an angry reaction is likely unless I can shift to my planned response or give myself time to cool off.

3 – Try to notice patterns, not just in the “trigger moment” but before it happens, too. For instance, I am 2.7 million times more likely to react in anger if I’m tired or hungry. So I make an effort to get a good night’s sleep before teaching and to eat healthy snacks throughout the day.

4 – Practice positive self-talk before, during, and after upsetting events. Be gentle and forgiving with yourself. Remind yourself that you are learning, growing, and getting better.

Even those of us who aren’t super patient can learn to respond instead of react. It’s not easy, and it won’t happen overnight. But it’s totally worth it.

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

Katrina Ayres, Positive Teaching Strategies

Additional Awesome Teacher Nation Resources

Books

  • Create a Great Day for Yourself and Your Students
  • 5-Minute Classroom Management Hints
  • The Take-Charge Teacher
  • All The Ways I Screwed Up My First Year of Teaching
  • The Classroom Teacher’s Coloring Book
  • The Classroom Teacher’s Coloring Book, Volume 2

VideosAwesome Teacher Nation TV videos, including:

  • Why Threats and Punishments Don’t Work
  • Saving Time on Paperwork and Grading
  • 7 Strategies to Deal With the Pencil Sharpener
  • What’s the BEST Classroom Management Strategy?

Online Courses

  • Taming the Chaos: How to Create and Effective Classroom Routine
  • Making Money as an In-Demand Substitute Teacher
  • A Day in the Life of a Substitute Teacher
  • The Substitute Teacher’s Troubleshooting Guide

Gain Instant Access to the Awesome Teacher Nation Resources Library

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

Thanksgiving Amnesia

Thanksgiving Amnesia – it’s going to happen, so you might as well plan for it.

I looked around at the chaos in my room with disbelief. What had happened to my class?

In September and October I spent weeks teaching my class how to be successful students. By November we had routines for everything.  Transitions were smooth. The noise level was manageable. The students could work in groups without fighting. And they turned in their work most of the time with their name on it!

After Thanksgiving I was ready to jump back into the curriculum exactly where we left off, but it didn’t work out that way. Instead I had to break up arguments, remind students to raise their hands, chase down homework, and wait for it to get quiet. Transitions took forever. Tardiness was rampant. Everything seemed to take longer than I expected.

Thanksgiving Amnesia – it’s going to happen, so you might as well plan for it. During Thanksgiving break, your students will forget everything they have learned so far this year, including every academic thing you have taught them, plus how to put their name on their work, where to turn in homework, and how to work with a partner. (This is only a slight exaggeration.)

Don’t do what I did. Don’t plan a lot of fancy lessons for the week after Thanksgiving. Instead, set aside ample time for review, both of academics and classroom routines. Before you know it, your students will be back up to speed, and you’ll be able to roar through the winter.

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

Katrina Ayres, Positive Teaching Strategies

Additional Awesome Teacher Nation Resources

Books

  • Create a Great Day for Yourself and Your Students
  • 5-Minute Classroom Management Hints
  • The Take-Charge Teacher
  • All The Ways I Screwed Up My First Year of Teaching
  • The Classroom Teacher’s Coloring Book
  • The Classroom Teacher’s Coloring Book, Volume 2

VideosAwesome Teacher Nation TV videos, including:

  • Why Threats and Punishments Don’t Work
  • Saving Time on Paperwork and Grading
  • 7 Strategies to Deal With the Pencil Sharpener
  • What’s the BEST Classroom Management Strategy?

Online Courses

  • Taming the Chaos: How to Create and Effective Classroom Routine
  • Making Money as an In-Demand Substitute Teacher
  • A Day in the Life of a Substitute Teacher
  • The Substitute Teacher’s Troubleshooting Guide

Gain Instant Access to the Awesome Teacher Nation Resources Library

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

How to Be a Confident Teacher

This week’s Sanity Boost is in answer to a question that came in as an anonymous response to last week’s survey about topics to include in my upcoming book. If this is your question, THANK YOU for sending it!

Question: One thing I see over and over is students honing in on insecurities of new teachers. So, how do you feign confidence in your own classroom?

Answer: You don’t have to be a new teacher to feel insecure. All of us have felt that squishy nervous feeling in our stomachs that happens whenever you are in a situation you’re not quite sure you can handle. Your armpits and hands dampen. Your mouth gets dry. Your heart pounds, and you have trouble breathing. You may even get lightheaded or need to run to the bathroom.

Watch How to Be a Confident TeacherUnfortunately, kids are really good at detecting when we are feeling insecure and capitalizing on the situation to create drama and/or get out of work. You can try to fake confidence (breathing helps, as does deodorant), but wouldn’t it be better to actually HAVE confidence?

So what exactly is confidence, and where can you get it? One definition of confidence (from Dictionary.com) is “belief in oneself and one’s powers or abilities.” And I think the best way to acquire a belief in your powers and abilities is to have a well-thought-out plan.

What could possibly go wrong in the classroom?I have a friend who jumps out of airplanes. He isn’t nervous about it at all, because he knows exactly what to do in just about every situation that can come up. There are protocols for what to do if the weather is bad, if the parachute doesn’t open, or if he starts to drift away from his target landing area. In other words, he has thought about what could go wrong, and made a plan to either prevent it (pack your chute correctly) or correct it (have a backup chute.)

Think of all the problems you could have in the classroomI recommend all new teachers (and experienced teachers, too) try to think of everything that can possibly go wrong in their classrooms. Then, make a procedure that will prevent that thing from happening, and teach it to your students. If I’m worried that students will sharpen pencils while I’m talking, I teach them what to do if their pencil breaks. If I think they’ll cheat on a test, I teach them how to arrange their desks. And so on.

Experienced teachers have a big advantage here, because they have had so many things go wrong already that they instinctively know what to plan for. But new teachers can do it, too. The problem is, many of them don’t. I know I didn’t. My idea of how to prepare for the classroom was to go to the teacher supply store and buy a bunch of thematic lesson plan books. What I should have done was think about the logistics of my classroom, and write a bunch of lesson plans to use at the beginning of the school year.

I always say “Confidence is natural when you know what to do.” And thinking it through ahead of time will help you know what to do.

Katrina Ayres, PositiveTeachingStrategies.com

PS – If you enjoyed this classroom management hint, you may want to join the Awesome Teacher Nation tribe so you can get weekly positive teaching strategies, hints, and tips delivered straight to your email inbox. Join us now – it’s totally free!

Additional Awesome Teacher Nation Resources

Books

  • Create a Great Day for Yourself and Your Students
  • 5-Minute Classroom Management Hints
  • The Take-Charge Teacher
  • All The Ways I Screwed Up My First Year of Teaching
  • The Classroom Teacher’s Coloring Book
  • The Classroom Teacher’s Coloring Book, Volume 2

VideosAwesome Teacher Nation TV videos, including:

  • Why Threats and Punishments Don’t Work
  • Saving Time on Paperwork and Grading
  • 7 Strategies to Deal With the Pencil Sharpener
  • What’s the BEST Classroom Management Strategy?

Online Courses

  • Taming the Chaos: How to Create and Effective Classroom Routine
  • Making Money as an In-Demand Substitute Teacher
  • A Day in the Life of a Substitute Teacher
  • The Substitute Teacher’s Troubleshooting Guide

Gain Instant Access to the Awesome Teacher Nation Resources Library

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