I am about the finish my first semester of my second year of teaching at Crossroads Christian Academy (CCA). This year has been very different from my first year teaching. To start with, my daughter enrolled in my school in the new K3 (preschool) program. This means that every morning my daughter and I go to school together. The K3 program is for half day, so during my lunch time I get to go say goodbye to my daughter when my wife comes to pick her up.
So far my second year has been much easier than my first year. This is especially true in terms of the amount of time it takes me to plan my lessons. As a first year teacher I was getting familiar with the textbooks, the students and many new things at the school. This year I have all of my lesson plans saved from last year, so this is a starting point that saves me literally hours in terms of lesson preparation. I am able to make improvements to what I did last year based on what worked best and what I think will work best with my current students.
In the beginning of this year I had a lot of problems in the area of classroom management. This is still an area where I want to improve. It is not easy teaching young students, especially middle schoolers. Some of the boys in my classes have been particularly difficult for me to deal with this year. Some of the things I’m learning in terms of discipline/classroom management are:
Building a relational connection with students matters
I recently took a student out to share a soda after school. This small step has allowed me to build a better relationship with this student and to better understand some of the challenges that he is facing outside of school.
Another example of this is with a particular student who has been difficult for me to manage in my classroom. Right after my class a couple of months ago I watched the same student behave very differently with another teacher in her class. After I asked that teacher how she was able to manage this student, she explained that she has taught him for the past few years. She has developed a relationship with him and she has learned what techniques work best for him.
I must be confident in the authority I have as a teacher
I recently received some insight into my role in the classroom. This came through a time of prayer when I felt like God told me that he wanted me to be more like a general and less like a soldier in my teaching. Part of what I think God was trying to show me is that I need to be confident in my authority in the classroom. Even when it seems that students completely disregard my authority, I need to respond in a way that shows that I have not given up my authority, but that I expect more of my students
It is important to clearly communicate expectations
Sometimes you assume that your students know what proper behavior looks like, but often times they do not. Students will push the limit until they feel that a limit is actually being held to by the teacher. Once the limit is communicated they will continue to test it. A teachers job is to be very clear about what his/her limits are and then stick to them. I have a long way to go with this, but I’m learning more everyday!
If you are reading this and you are an educator, why don’t you share some things that you have learned about school discipline and classroom management in the comments below. I would love to hear your thoughts!