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Features For New Teachers
Volume 7, Issue 23
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1. The first thing to remember is that you are the boss.
Self belief is incredibly important in this job. You can’t expect pupils to respond positively to you unless you believe, really believe, that you fully deserve their respect and compliance. The thought that you are the leader in the classroom must be at the forefront of your mind.
If you give any sign at all that you are NOT in FULL CONTROL, children will sense this and exploit your weaknesses. You MUST project strength and the impression that you will not tolerate any disobedience.
All too often a teacher will enter a lesson filled with dread and give out the signal that they are beaten before the lesson even starts. Pupils sense this. If you’ve been having a hard time with a particular group they will come to expect that you will be a walk-over and get into the habit of talking freely with total disregard for your threats.
2. Have definite rules on noise
Once you’ve decided on your rules (preferably with input from the pupils) you need to ensure the pupils are totally clear what those rules are. There must be no ambiguity and therefore no room for argument.
We all know how important consistency is in terms of classroom management but unless you have a clear set of rules to work to in the first place, you can’t consistently apply them.
So, what is your rule on noise?
Mine is simple: If I say there is to be no talking, then there is to be no talking. I will not tolerate being interrupted without taking action. I seldom enforce this rule for longer than a few minutes – just at those key times when I am either explaining something, starting a new task or taking a register etc. - but if I tell a group that I want total silence, then I mean it. And any pupil who ignores this is dealt with straight away.
For example, never let a pupil shout out without reminding them to put up their hand. Never, allow pupils to continue talking at the start of a lesson when you’ve started explaining the objective. Never, let pupils interrupt you without reminding them that it is unacceptable to do so.
If you let them get away with it once, you have effectively trained them to try and get away with it again.
3. Control entry to the classroom
The ideal place to establish control over your pupils is outside the door - before you even let them in the room.You must start the lesson under your terms. And the lesson starts before they enter the room with you having them line up outside the door in an orderly manner.
This is the perfect time to gauge the mood of the group and indeed the individuals in the group. You can easily spot potential problems (unhappy pupils, cases of bullying, arguments etc.) and deal with them rather than letting them go unnoticed and having them escalate into serious disruptions during your lesson.
If the group won’t stand still and quiet don’t let them in the room. They must do EXACTLY as you say before you let them through the door. If they run to a chair bring them back again and make them walk. If you let them get away with anything at this important stage, you will set the tone as being one where they can get away with things. You don’t want that.
4. Have ‘settling work’ ready for them when they enter the room
If you have a group who just won’t settle try presenting them with some of the following ‘settling work’ as soon as they enter the room. But… make sure you add this little twist to ensure the pupils get stuck into it straight away…
On your board have the following written up…
“Complete the work detailed below. You have ten minutes. If you don’t finish it, you will return at break to complete it.”
Obviously you need to adjust individual work targets for less able pupils to make it fair. Once they’ve started you can go round the slow workers very quietly, out of earshot of the others, and tell them where to stop. i.e. give them a work target which requires less writing than the others –
“James, you can stop when you get to the end of this sentence”. (And put a pencil mark where you want them to get up to.)
The great advantage of this strategy is that it gives you a few minutes to get your resources sorted out. I do use this if I want to show a DVD clip and haven’t had time to set the AV equipment up for example.
On each desk you could have a quick topic-related puzzle, a review quiz of last lesson’s work, a cloze exercise or some text copying work. Nothing too difficult – you don’t want to confuse them because they’ll spend ten minutes asking questions instead of settling down. Choose something simple (and preferably light-hearted or fun) that requires no explanation or fuss.
As well as having the instructions written on the board, greet them at the door and say…
“Get started on the simple task on your desk – you have ten minutes to finish it.”
Once they’re in the room you can then add…
“Anyone not finishing this little task will finish it at break – there should be no talking. If you talk you’ll come back at break and do it in silence then.”
If you want them to copy notes from the board (or a book) make sure there isn’t a huge amount of text otherwise you will provoke complaints. You can ‘hide’ extra work by having five or ten lines of text for them to copy and then a note at the end saying “Now answer question 2 on page 46” which could be another five or ten lines of notes.
“It is entirely your choice as to whether or not you get break. If you want break, do the work. If you don’t want break, sit and chat.”
…can be used if they don’t settle straight away.
5. The Right Way To Ask For Silence
You may have been told that an alternative to shouting for silence is to simply wait for rowdy pupils to calm down.
And wait… And wait… And wait…
Teachers have mixed views as to the effectiveness of waiting for silence before continuing with the lesson because in many cases it just doesn’t work.
Some classes will respond positively to this strategy almost straight away but a hard class will test your mettle and try to push you way beyond 5 or 10 minutes.
They’ll enjoy watching your expression turn to desperation and laugh at the fact that your plan isn’t working.
At a time like this you need to bring in sanctions and make them see that their continuous disobedience will not be tolerated.
If you have a strong, commanding voice you can shout for quiet and explain what the sanctions will be if they continue talking. If you can’t be sure that your voice will cut through the noise sufficiently, you can communicate via the board by writing your instructions. Write up your instructions in bold, capital letters. You may need to give them slightly longer time to comply – allowing for the fact that they may not all read your instructions straight away.
This is what to say…
(You may think that these sanctions won’t work with your toughest class but they are phrased in a very specific manner as you’ll soon see. If you rigorously and consistently apply them you will win. Your class will settle. I’ve never known it fail).
“If you wish to continue talking during my lesson I will have to take time off you at break. By the time I‘ve written the title on the board you need to be sitting in silence. Anyone who is still talking after that will be kept behind for 5 minutes.”
Phrasing your instructions in this way when you want a class to be quiet is very powerful and almost always guarantees success.
Let’s examine why:
Firstly, you are being very fair and giving the pupils a warning…
“If you wish to continue talking during my lesson I will have to take time off you at break.”
When teachers try to issue a punishment without a warning…
“Right you’ve just lost your break!”
…they are often met with a torrent of abuse…
“No way, that’s not fair – we weren’t doing anything!!!”
I always find that giving pupils a fair warning about an impending sanction takes the sting out of a confrontational situation.
Secondly, you are telling them exactly what they are doing wrong, and exactly how to put it right…
“…you need to be sitting in silence.”
Thirdly, you are giving them a clear time by which you expect full compliance…
“By the time I‘ve written the title on the board you need to be sitting in silence.”
Fourthly, and very importantly, you are telling them exactly what will happen to them if they don’t do as you ask…
“Anyone who is still talking after that will be kept behind for 5 minutes.”
These key features are important if you want pupils to follow your instructions because they leave no room for questions, debates, arguments or confusion. The pupils know exactly what they’re doing wrong, what will happen if they continue and how to correct their behavior so as to evade a sanction.
N.B. I’m fully aware that timetable constraints do not allow teachers to keep pupils back after each and every lesson. For that reason you need to think about the sanctions you will issue. You could for example hit the class hard and tell them that any pupils still talking will receive a letter home but it may be better to start off with a small sanction (such as staying behind after school for 5 minutes) because you can then add to it if and when the behavior continues.
Melissa Dills is an Ohio kindergarten teacher and has a blog, Adventures of iPads in Kindergarten. Melissa recently contacted me with this question:
I currently have 5 ipads in my kindergarten classroom. I back up my 'original' one on iCloud and it pushes out the apps to the other four. My question is do you know of a way to get them to go into the appropriate folder They are just going onto the screen instead of the folder I put it into on my original. Thanks for your great website. It is very helpful!
It's very convenient to enable Automatic Downloads of apps in the Store section of Settings on iOS devices. This automatically downloads new purchases (including free) made on other devices and in iTunes. You just need to be signed into the same iTunes account on all of your devices. Don't worry; you don't have to input the account's password each time an automatic download happens (that would be annoying).
As Melissa points out, apps are indeed automatically downloaded, but they are not placed into folders or even necessarily onto the same Home screens. Currently Apple does not provide a way to synchronize folders among devices. Other settings, like wallpaper and sounds, are also not synced and have to be set up manually on each device. With older students, teachers can have them place apps in folders and make settings consistent across devices.
In Melissa's situation with younger students and only five devices, she could set up one of the iPads as a master. That means she would move apps into folders or onto specific Home screens and configure settings. After she has the iPad exactly the way she wants it, she will connect to iTunes, right-click the iPad's name in iTunes' sidebar, and choose Back Up.
After back up is complete, Melissa will disconnect the master iPad. Then, she'll connect one of her other four iPads, right-click the iPad's name in iTunes' sidebar, and choose Restore from Backup.
iTunes will ask Melissa to choose a backup to restore onto the current device. She'll of course choose the backup of the master iPad.
It will probably take some time for the restore to complete. When done, this iPad will be a clone of the master. That means all apps will be in the same folders, Home screens will be identical, and settings will match exactly. I suggest that Melissa rename the iPad so that it's not confused with the master iPad.
Melissa can restore her other three iPads from the master's backup as well. Afterwards, all five of her iPads will be set up identically. Because iTunes allows you restore only one iPad at a time, Melissa probably won't want to go through this process very often. She'll probably still rely on automatic downloading of apps and manually putting into folders unless she has downloaded a large number of apps that would take lots of time to sort.
Now, this method of restoring from a backup of a master device will replace all data with that from the master. That means images, recordings, and any high scores will be erased from the other devices.
Restoring from a backup can also save teachers time if they customize an app. For example, Learn How to Spell from Grasshopper Apps is fully customizable. You can use the sets of words that are included in the app. But even better, you can add your own words, complete with your own images and voice recordings.
It can take lots of time to make customized sets of words within the app. In a classroom like Melissa's where there are a small number of iPads that can be used as a center, it saves a lot of time and repetition to use the cloning method above to copy the customized sets from a master iPad to other devices. Perhaps one day Grasshopper Apps will update their apps to save customized lists to iCloud so they can be easily copied to other devices. Until then, restoring from a backup is the way to copy the app's data from one device to another.
Canby Schools in Oregon have deployed hundreds of iPod touches using this restore from backup technique. Joseph Morelock has written how they do it in the wiki article Imaging iPod touch Devices Using iTunes Restore.
These are not good days for students to use power tools, sharp objects, or lab equipment as more accidents occur when students are distracted.
One of the best way to keep the kids focused and to make the time pass quickly for both you and them is to set up hands-on activities, keeping them busy, active, and involved. Art-type projects they can finish and take home allow them to have fun, be creative, and have something to show off at home afterward. Another idea is making foods they can also eat at the end of the class.
Be careful about unstructured time. Having a party only makes it take longer; the novelty wears off soon as students' interest wanes. Also beware of movies and presentations. You dont want them sitting around or in a situation where they'll be bored, waiting, able to daydream, and ready to distract others.
Some teachers give a test, or work and push hard right up to dismissal. Sticking to routines makes time pass faster as students pass through the familiar schedules.
Teachers are often as glad as the students to be on vacation. However, be sure to keep your focus, or the students will know it, and act accordingly. If you stay serious and expect control in your room, the students will follow. The day before a break is not a 'free' day, nor a day off. And the students are not in charge, unless you've allowed it to happen.
Be sure to check out our website for the FREE teacher Who-I-Want-To-Be
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I've come across a great article on 'Technological
Resistance with Colleagues' that I recently found from Educause
Quarterly and I wanted to share with you:
And here's a great website I came across that provides videos for everything, including internet training and videos that deal with our state GLCEs for technology training.
Teaching is a very conscious activity where one has to deal with diverse learners at the same time. Though it seems pleasant to deal with such a different group of learners, it requires a quick decision-making ability of teachers who deal with a lot of difficulties and complexities that emerge during the interactions of lessons. Another aspect for an effective lesson is planning.
It is very difficult to define and describe the characteristics of good teaching. In short, a lot of qualifications, credentials, experiences and efforts are required for a good and effective teacher. The foremost quality of a teacher is the command on the delivery part of a lesson - how s/he integrates content knowledge with pedagogical skills. That is only possible if a teacher has the power of decision making (the how and into which quantity s/he has to deliver the lesson.)
Decision-making is a very careful step that helps the facilitator to take selective actions in the light of sense hypothesis. It seems unhealthy to pour out all that information and content material into a student’s mind, but we need to make sure that to what extent it can be appropriate for the learner’s needs and the requirement of that learning content. Sometimes it seems that our decisions are not suitable in the long run, although it’s fulfilling/catering the needs of present time. That is why teaching is recognized as a reflective and thinking based journey rather than a monotonous way of delivering information. It assists the decision-maker to take action with thorough reflections on how children learn and what would be the desired outcomes.
Teachers often complain that we would not be able to complete our task in the given time due to the abrupt discussion/s or some new arising questions. What I personally believe, it’s again an opportunity for teachers to think that sometimes it is good to proceed as per the original plan, but being a responsible person, it sounds intelligent to be flexible in one's planning and accommodating his/her selves as per the need and desire of the time and context.
The major responsibility of a teacher is not to just complete the syllabus but also to make sure that learners produce meaningful outcomes while simultaneously their personalities are groomed with appropriate attitudes and skills. That is why the aim of education always leads towards holistic development of a child and all depends on the willingness of a teacher whose decision plays ‘the vital role’ in the children’s grooming.
As we often heard an old saying, “I am because I am thinking”, this same theory applies while making a decision because it requires on-going reflection. An intelligent decision needs a lot of deep, critical and analytical thinking because if outcomes are expected with deliberate optimism, then it is necessary for an individual to challenge, analyze its own idea, practice, see the alternatives, and choose the best one. For example, a teacher plans a lesson for 2 days and delivers this in class. Hence this would be called an ordinary teacher. But a reflective teacher will be in the process of constantly thinking, "how would I enable my students to learn the conceptual understanding with more clarity? How could I introduce my students to some new strategies through which they could learn more in the most effective manner?" It is also important for the teacher to pick up any new ideas / information with careful analysis and deliver it to the learners while asking, "does that make sense to them?" Therefore, it is also important to collect feedback from students and then plan as per their needs.
The child is a natural investigator, if our instructions provide him a LEAD; we would be able to see the enhancement in the cognitive and behavioral developments both. Nonetheless, it is not that easy but our instructions should link with the child’s previous knowledge and the existing experiences so it would be called meaningful learning.
impediments that affect decisions
Chesham said, “Let me give so
much time to improvement of myself that I shall have not time to
Best Brains are those that are always in the process of rethinking to construct new knowledge. I think teachers have the same role in producing something new but in the process of the production of something new, they face some hurdles and barriers and those hindrances often affect their performance and make them slow as well. Therefore "to make a difference” one has to sacrifice and brings out positive changes.
are some impediments that
affects effective decision:
Suggestions to overcome the impediments while decision making
have been shared in the light of general observation, it is difficult to
find out the solution for all of the impediments because it does vary
from context to context. A smart teacher carefully handles the
problem keeping in mind the diversity and sensitivity as well.
Social anxiety is an experience of fear, apprehension or worry regarding social situations and being evaluated by others. People vary in how often they experience anxiety in this way or in which kinds of situations. Anxiety about public speaking, performance, or interviews is common.
Causes and Perspectives:
Research into the causes of social anxiety and social phobia is wide-ranging, encompassing multiple perspectives from neuroscience to sociology. Scientists have yet to pinpoint the exact causes. Studies suggest that genetics plays a part in combination with environmental factors.
Evolutionary Context: A long-accepted evolutionary explanation of anxiety is that it reflects an in-built 'fight or flight' system, which errs on the side of safety. One line of research suggests that specific dispositions to monitor and react to social threats may have evolved, reflecting the vital and complex importance of social living and social rank in human ancestral environments. Charles Darwin originally wrote about the evolutionary basis of shyness and blushing, and modern evolutionary psychology and psychiatry also addresses social phobia in this context. It has been hypothesized that in modern day society these evolved tendencies can become more inappropriately activated and result in some of the cognitive 'distortions' or 'irrationalities' identified in cognitive-behavioral models and therapies.
Genetic and Family Factors: It has been shown that there is a two to three fold greater risk of having social phobia if a first-degree relative also has the disorder. This could be due to genetics and/or due to children acquiring social fears and avoidance through processes of observational learning or parental psychosocial education. Studies of identical twins brought up (via adoption) in different families have indicated that, if one twin developed social anxiety disorder, then the other was between 30% and 50% more likely than average to also develop the disorder. To some extent this 'heritability' may not be specific - for example, studies have found that if a parent has any kind of anxiety disorder or clinical depression, then a child is somewhat more likely to develop an anxiety disorder or social phobia. Studies suggest that parents of those with social anxiety disorder tend to be more socially isolated themselves, and shyness in adoptive parents is significantly correlated with shyness in adopted children;
Adolescents who were rated as having an insecure (anxious-ambivalent) attachment with their mother as infants were twice as likely to develop anxiety disorders by late adolescence, including social phobia (SAD)
A related line of research has investigated Behavioral inhibition' in infants - early signs of an inhibited and introspective or fearful nature. Studies have shown that around 10-15% of individuals show this early temperament, which appears to be partly due to genetics. Some continue to show this trait in to adolescence and adulthood, and appear to be more likely to develop social anxiety disorder.
Neurochemical and Neurocognitive Influences: Some scientists hypothesize that social phobia is related to an imbalance of the brain chemical serotonin. Sociability is also closely tied to dopamine neurotransmission. Low D2 receptor binding is found in people with social anxiety. The efficacy of medications which affect Serotonin and Dopamine levels also indicates the role of these pathways. There is also increasing focus on other candidate transmitters, e.g. Noradrenalin, which may be over-active in social anxiety disorder, and the inhibitory transmitter GABA.
Individuals with social anxiety disorder have been found to have a hypersensitive amygdala, for example in relation to social threat cues (e.g. someone might be evaluating you negatively), angry or hostile faces, and while just waiting to give a speech. Recent research has also indicated that another area of the brain, the 'Anterior Cingulate Cortex', which was already known to be involved in the experience of physical pain, also appears to be involved in the experience of 'social pain', for example perceiving group exclusion
Psychological Factors: Research has indicated the role of 'core' or 'unconditional' negative beliefs (e.g. I am inept) and 'conditional' beliefs nearer to the surface (e.g. If I show myself, I will be rejected). They are thought to develop based on personality and adverse experiences and to be activated when the person feels under threat. One line of work has focused more specifically on the key role of self-presentational concerns. The resulting anxiety states are seen as interfering with social performance and the ability to concentrate on interaction, which in turn creates more social problems, which strengthens the negative schema. Also highlighted has been a high focus on and worry about anxiety symptoms themselves and how they might appear to others. A similar model emphasizes the development of a distorted mental representation of their self and over-estimates of the likelihood and consequences of negative evaluation, and of the performance standards that others have. Such cognitive-behavioral models consider the role of negatively-biased memories of the past and the processes of rumination after an event, and fearful anticipation before it. Studies have also highlighted the role of subtle avoidance and defensive factors, and shown how attempts to avoid feared negative evaluations or use 'safety behaviors' can make social interaction more difficult and the anxiety worse in the long run. This work has been influential in the development of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for social anxiety disorder, which has been shown to have efficacy
(see more in part 3 next issue!)
A great idea is to use a 'Big Boy and Big Girl' word list. This is a set of specific vocabulary you want students to use in class, in discussions, and in their writing. This name inicates that the students will be using bigger, more sophisticated and descriptive words that the 'big boys' and 'big girls' use.
On a wall of my classroom, I've put up a poster of the basic words I never want to see in my students' use in writin. The six banned words in my room are: got, a lot, thing, something, anything,
At the beginning of the year, I teach the kids about word choice and why it is important to use both specific and creative alternatives to the mundane words most of our students will use if not challenged. We discuss the banned words and their definitions. Then we brainstorm and list alternatives to each banned word. This becomes the start of our 'Big Boy/Big Girl' list.
This poster is right next to the front board where I can add to the list. Big Boy/Big Girl words are added throughout the year, along with the alternatives. Instead of 'a lot', students can use 'frequent' or 'often'.
Instead of 'big', we brainstormed 'huge', 'gigantic', 'and 'humongeous'.
The word 'thing' is the common stand in for virtually any noun, and could refer to a person, a place, an idea, or an object. In this case, have the students be specific in their naming of the 'thing', and use descriptive words and phrases instead of the simple banned word.
We also put together a list of banned words for speeches and class presentations. Students are not allowed to use 'like' in their normal parlance, such as "I was like..." and "he was like..." or "like this and like that". We also never tolerate terms or phrases like 'this sucks'. And the ever famous 'um' and 'uh' are not allowed. Instead we teach the students to pause and take a breath, then continue. Students lose significant points on these presentations if they say banned words.
You as the teacher can decide on what words you want your students to use or ban in class. This is a great opportunity to require them to use important terms and vocabulary from your curriculum. And in short mini lessons, you and the students can brainstorm alternatives to many simplistic words, which reinforces the student's acquisition of the vocabulary.
Ok, now this is a great idea, but how is it enforced? Once we'e had the mini lesson on word choice and discussed the list and banned words, I inform students that I will not accept any assignments in which I find a banned word. The assignment automatically becomes a zero, unless the student fixes the problem. If they don't, the zero remains. Although this may seem to be a more time consuming task for the teacher, the students pick up on the concept quickly. It may take you a bit more time and effort on the front end, but you'll reap bigger rewards the rest of the year as soon as the students pick up the habit.
Be sure to check out our website for the FREE teacher Who-I-Want-To- Be
plan and other great Freebies for new teachers. Simply click the
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Twas the week before Christmas
And all through my class,
The students were buzzing, not a one was on task.
The stockings were hung on the incentive board with care, In hopes that "smiley" stickers soon would be there.
The kid's desks were strewn with Christmas drawings of green & red,
While visions of class parties danced in their heads.
With my chalk, markers, spelling lists in hand, I donned my "super teacher's cap" And longingly I looked forward to a long, Christmas break nap-
When out in the hall there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my desk to see what was a matter
Away to the teacher's lounge I flew like a flash,
Tore open the doors, ran to the window in a dash.
The sun on the breast of the new-fallen snow,
Gave lustre to the playground objects below.
When what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But the "ho, ho" man himself...yes with reindeer!!
With a sleigh, and a smile so lively and quick,
I thought to myself...am I feeling quite sick?
Or could this indeed be the famous St. Nick!
Through the door St. Nicholas came with a bound,
Went straight to the teacher's boxes, with nary a sound.
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work
And filled all the boxes, with goodies, bonus checks and other great perks.
And laying his finger aside of his cheek
And giving a nod..said..."Good teacher, take heart..tis but one more week!"
He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down on a thistle,
I wound my way back to my own classroom halls,
With my students gleefully bouncing off the four walls,
But I heard him exclaim as he drove off with elation,
Merry Christmas dear Teachers...and enjoy your Vacation!
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