Tag Archives: Classroom management

It’s Okay to Say “No” to Sharing!

I just read an article about a mother who received dirty looks when her son did not share his toys with some perfect strangers at a playground. They ran back to their mommies and told how the Toy Man wouldn’t share. Toy Man brought his toys to share with his friend, not a pack of other kids. Tsk! That struck a chord with me. I have demanded that other students share with those who chose not to come to class prepared. No longer. I will have to learn to let it go and not seethe with rage when I see an apathetic middle school student sit there and do nothing. For forty-two to forty-five minutes. If they don’t have a pencil in their lockers, then that is what they will do. If they have supplies and don’t bring them, it will be a disciplinary issue. Three strikes means you serve a consequence.

Personally speaking, I paid money for my son’s supplies. I did not buy them to be shared. Other parents pay money for their own children, not some punk who won’t bother to bring his supplies. I am not speaking out against those who have an economic need. I take care of them with school supplies I buy with my dwindling budget. I try to plan ahead for the next year each spring. It is an expectation to have pencils, paper, colored pencils, rulers, etc. because “not every child has them.” When we use technology, I have to reserve enough devices or I am not allowing everyone equal access. That is a rant for another day. I am not advocating selfishness to one’s fellow man. Each student should be able to say “No” at the appropriate time. They should not be expected to give their prized pencils and/or erasers to someone who does not care and/or would not reciprocate. Mama bought me personalized pencils. That meant they were mine. All mine to use. Mine. The change begins the next time my class starts on Tuesday morning. Believe it.

RLT

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Discipline Hacks That Work!

I will bet you did not know that hair spray is an effective tool for maintaining order in the classroom. I have kept this secret under my hat. When a well-coiffured student acts out, I grab the travel size hair spray I keep in my classroom on my desk. I approach the student and ask if he would like me to comb his hair in the opposite direction. All of them refuse my offer. I am hurt.

Students love to move about whenever possible. I allow students to become camels while working quietly. They stand up behind their chairs and bend over like camels. I call them my little dromedaries.

One student loved to perform physical activities. I let him bear crawl down the hall one day after school once the other students had left. He was as happy as a lark. His mother was a coach, so I know what little I asked of him was insufficient to cause him pain or distress. He made me laugh while bear crawling.

Knowing all three names of a student can be extremely effective. Some despise their middle names, so they cringe in fear when I get that look in my eye akin to Momma and fix my lips to speak all three names. Little stinkers.

Lavender scented Air Wicks dispense calm, soothing lavender to some agitated young minds and bodies. It also helps to fight against any ODF students you may encounter (on-demand flatulence). I had one of those little cherubs last year. He sat right next to it and had probably realized that I was hep to the jive and kept that Air Wick fully stocked.

If you want to discourage the talkative, sneaky students, then demand that they share a personal journal on a volunteer basis. Cue the crickets. When I collected the journals, they began talking. I told them, “If you cannot share your journal writing, then you cannot talk now.” One of them had the unmitigated gall to give me a go-to-blazes look. I ignored her insolence and walked away.

Mr. Whistle works to curb my young runners who feel that lunch will escape without physical exertion. I reminded them that their food was already dead, so it would not run from them. Two loud blasts stops the sprints.

Allowing students to work in “vampire mode” is fun. I will turn off half of the lights to make it “half-vampire mode,” but these darlings prefer full vampire mode. I have five lamps placed around my room so that we are not in utter darkness. When they get too off-task in vampire mode, then we go back to “human mode” with all lights on.

Four Corners – students who have demonstrated weakness of character, bad manners, or need less socialization time earn the right to sit in the four corners of my classroom. This separates the conspirators who attempt to wreck my good humor, and the others learn that I did mean business despite warnings that went unheeded.

Utilize the “shark smile.” It actually is me baring my teeth with my lips shaped into a smile so that I resemble a shark. I call it my “shark smile.” They realize I am not smiling with joy but will soon mete out a consequence or invite them to a private one-on-one conversation in my office (hallway).

RLT

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His Name is Puhn-KIN

I found a new inroad to Manchild this week. He doesn’t like to leave my classroom. Just when he reaches the limit of off-task behavior that will get him kicked out, and I give him the option of staying in my room or going to the in-school suspension room, he always chooses to stay with me. I have no explanation except I’ve figured out that he cares about me and my opinion despite his bravado. He does not lose his mind and cause a scene. He may be angry, but he hasn’t shown me the explosive side of his personality since September.

Because I maintain a tight ship, I can’t just flip the switch and be cuddly, fuzzy with him, so I adopted a sugary sweet high-pitched tone and called him “Puhn-KIN” when he came to my homeroom to complete an unfinished assignment. When he attempted to leave my room to go to another teacher (and probably roam the hallways), I gave him the option of studying for his retake for me.  He again suggested leaving my room. “No, I don’t want my Punkin to leave me.” Manchild had that little smile on his face, and I knew that I had him. I made him stay and review his flashcards. For the first go ’round through the cards, he was seated at the table where assigned. Manchild again expressed  a desire to leave my presence. I gave him the option of reviewing the flash cards either in his seat or in the plank position on the carpet.  I sat on the floor right in front of him flipping the cards at a rapid pace. No, he didn’t hold position longer than 10-15 seconds at any given time. When he finished reviewing and asked to sit in his chair again, I cooed, “Hims* so happy to stay with me!”

Now when he gets out of line, I may drag out the moniker “Punkin” just to break the vicious cycle of defiance and compliance that is my relationship with my Manchild.

RLT

*Yes, I realize that I used the wrong pronoun with Punkin; however, it was done with love in a tongue-in-cheek manner.

pumpkin

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Thank You for Your Support

I maintain a Facebook account and read posts that my friends allow on their timelines or links that appeal to me. I read a post that a parent wrote about her child getting into trouble at school. When the teacher called home, the teacher received full parental support and an encouraging email the next day.

When I have to make that unpleasant phone call about a student’s behavior choice, it is sad to say that I expect to be blasted, called a liar or worse, and ridiculed. Too often, a student goes home and tells the half of the story that makes him look good. When the teacher calls to tell the full story, she isn’t always believed.

This spoke to my heart because of a situation that happened before my recent holiday. A student was corrected for being disrespectful. When I turned my back to walk away and return the discipline log to its place, he threw a pencil at me. It hit the wall. He was asked to leave my classroom for the rest of the period. I called his parents and expected a response. He came in the next day with the same surly attitude. No email or voice mail came from either of his parents. I was at a loss for words. He has never apologized to me, and I suspect that he probably won’t unless his parents encourage repentance in actions and words. My trust has been broken because I have never encountered what felt like a physical attack on my person before in my career. Some cowards have probably shredded my reputation on those teacher rating websites I won’t deign to visit. I can’t win them all over. I can be respectful and professional. I can correct abhorrent behavior appropriately.

As a parent, I know my son, and I know that he is not a perfect person. He will make mistakes. I want to hear what he has to say for himself and see that he repents. I want the teacher to give him another chance to redeem himself. I appreciate it when that happens. He has to earn back the good graces and favor one step at a time.

RLT

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Busy Little Bees on Overdrive

My students will be working on reading passages, writing prompts, and listening skills in the last nine days of school. I tried to find high-interest articles that would fire their imaginations as they learned something new. I also plan to play a review game about sentence structure and function using Kahoot! on the penultimate day of school.

The majority of my students may be vacation-minded, yet they are compliant with my directives. A small percentage would love to pull their cronies off-task and openly rebel; however, I actively monitor their activities to keep order. One of my younger colleagues passed on a suggestion that I am conditionally allowing—reading books on electronic devices. She utilizes the Overdrive app on her device. Some of her recalcitrant clientele received instruction on how to download and use it, too; now, they are engaged with books of their own choosing. Our librarian had previously mentioned this to our classes; it was on my phone at one time; somehow, I forgot about it. Now, I am allowing my students to download the app and a book with the condition that if I ask to see their phone, I’m going to see a book and nothing else. We shall see how it progresses.

RLT

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Supplies

I have a few students who lose their books and expect me to make them a copy or issue them a new one. After a day of this, I begin keeping tally in the discipline log.  I believe they are to bring their own supplies. Despite the community atmosphere of some elementary classrooms—kids all bring one box of facial tissues, package of crayons, etc. that are dumped into large containers and kept for all of them to use. I don’t believe in it. I participated as a parent when my son was in elementary school, but I expected him to keep up with his homework, supplies, musical instrument, and locker combinations when he hit middle school. He didn’t have a choice since I have taught middle school for years. Bring your own pencil, bring your own pen, and bring your own notebook paper. Before you send me to the wet-noodle flogging post, remember that I am referencing students with socio-economic needs that supersede pencils and folders. I am talking about the students whose parents have the means, but the kids don’t give a rip. When they enter the real world, they will be responsible for themselves and their monthly bills. I am simply training them for a life-lesson. To just allow them to show up with nothing teaches them that the world owes them a living. I beg to differ.

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Mid-Year Madness

“Look at my hands.  The gloves are off.” – This is the exact statement I made yesterday letting my young ones know that I was treating them more like seventh graders than sixth graders.  No more Mrs. Nice Guy, if you will.

“If you want your students to be better listeners, don’t repeat yourself.” This means that their parents email me with questions that their students can answer at this point in the school year.

“Why is Junior failing your class?” Did you ask Junior first before you decided to ask me?  The Swiss-cheese nature of my gradebook tells the tale of woe.  I send text messages, update my website, and send out mass emails about various due dates and supplies. I still hear, “We didn’t know about —.”

“We didn’t know about —.” Perhaps I should become a tattoo artist after all and start making my mark on the more forgetful of my young charges. Oy vey!

“Why isn’t this novel on your website?” It is copyrighted materials.  I make enough money to pay the bills.  I cannot afford a lawsuit from an angry author and publishing company.

“Why do I have to buy this novel if JimBob will only read it once?” I buy novels for my son every year; he reads them for his English class.  If he wants to, he can annotate in them for his studying.  When he’s finished with the novel in question, I add them to my personal library at school.  I’ll miss out on that once he heads off to college.

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First Quarter

The first quarter of the school year is completed, in the bag, done.  We had a staff meeting last week and were told that we only had a few weeks until our Thanksgiving holiday. It was nice to hear; however, we will have work to accomplish before some time with family.  I find that some of my clients’ true colors and personalities have surfaced. I redirect those who need redirection, and I praise those who need praise.  Last week, I put a sticker on the workbooks of students who were reading quietly after finishing their assignment as asked.  It was lovely.  I did not have to say anything to any of my students who prefer to “rock the boat” in class. They conformed to my simple request; we all left class that day in good spirits.

We have an anti-bullying initiative in place called Olweus (it’s Norwegian and the “w” has a “v” sound).  Our students are divided into randomly-selected groups, and we hold class meetings once a month to discuss bullying situations and how to respond when they occur.  I remember that feeling of being picked on all too well.  It made me angry that other people could talk to me rudely and treat me poorly.  As a result, I react strongly when a student puts another student down in my presence. I guess I am defending myself to my tormentors after all of these years.  When you criticize someone or laugh at his answer (given sincerely but wrong and NOT for a laugh), expect the “evil eye” and do not dare make a disparaging remark under your breath. I hear those cutting, mocking words, and the claws of Mama Tiger become unsheathed. It is a righteous anger and not easily abated once unleashed. You have been warned.

More anon.

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ABCs of Mrs. J’s Classroom (S-T) Sorry, no Zs.

Strikes Policy

(This is the name given to infractions committed by students)

  • You will accrue strikes for the grading period.
  • First strike- warning from teacher, sign the log
  • Second strike- parent contact from teacher, sign the log
  • Third and subsequent strike – C-hall assignment, parent contact, and office discipline

Substitute Policy

  • If I am ever absent, I expect you to treat the substitute as a guest in our home.
  • You will use your name placards to help the substitute learn your names.
  • If your name is given for anything other than absence, excused tardy, illness, or early dismissal note from front office, then you will receive an automatic C-hall.

Supplies Policy

  • Mrs. Johnson does not supply students with writing instruments, paper, or books.  When you run out of notebook paper, please buy a new package.  This also applies to pens and pencils.
  • Students are to check the “Supplies Needed” posted each day and bring daily supplies.
  • Students are to bring incidental supplies to class. (Ruled note cards, highlighters, map pencils, and/or markers as requested by teacher)

Tardy Policy

  • To be counted on time, you must have your backside connected to your assigned seat.
  • You are not sharpening a pencil, getting a drink at the fountain, or in the bathroom.
  • You must have your supplies with you in class.
  • You are completing the initial assignment.
  • You have a note excusing your tardiness from the front office, school nurse, counselor, librarian, or teacher.

Tutoring Policy

  • Mrs. Johnson is available each morning at 7:55 A.M. unless she is attending a meeting.  She is available after school daily until 4:05 P.M. unless she is attending a meeting.
  • Please let Mrs. Johnson know in advance during school hours between classes if you will be attending.
  • Make prior arrangements with your parents regarding your ride home from school.
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ABCs of Mrs. J’s Classroom (M-R)

Mandatory Tutoring Policy

  • If you receive a notice about mandatory tutoring for my class, you must attend each session until the end of the grading period or teacher dismissal.
  • Be here at 7:55 A.M. on your assigned morning, or it will become a C-hall.

 

Novels Policy

  • Pre -AP students are expected to have a copy of the novels we read during the school year.
  • It is recommended that on-level students have a personal copy for annotation.

 

Papers Policy

  •  Papers must follow heading guidelines given by Mrs. Johnson.
  • Writing must be original.
  • Essays will be either typed or handwritten for final copies.
  • Final copies are printed before due date.  Use the computer integration lab or the library computer lab to print.  There are no eleventh-hour jump drive rescues.

 

Personal Emergency Policy

  • I handle each emergency on a case-by-case basis.
  • Raise your hand to get my attention.
  • Please tell me the nature of your emergency.  I cannot evaluate a problem if you do not let me know what is happening.

Retake Policy

  • If you score below eighty-five percent on a major test, you are eligible for a retake.
  • Attend correction tutorial for retake test.  Have your original test signed by your parent.
  • Attend retake tutorial with Mrs. Johnson or another ILA teacher if Mrs. Johnson is unavailable due to duty assignment, illness, or a prior appointment.
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