Monday, February 22, 2016

using encouragement as a management strategy

Hello dear readers. I've been writing quite a bit about classroom management strategies. No matter how many posts I write, I still hear that this is an area where teachers are hungry for more suggestions. So here's another strategy to add to your toolkit: using encouraging statements with students with whom you are struggling to connect.

This strategy comes from a text I've given to numerous new teachers When Teaching Gets Tough: Smart Ways to Reclaim Your Game by Allen N. Mendler. There are many helpful strategies described in this book, some of which I've described in some previous posts. The strategy for today is to increase the number of encouraging statements providing specific praise and feedback to difficult students in your classroom. As Mendler notes, words of encouragement are important to help students feel connected, and can support building positive relationships with students. While useful for all students, this is particularly helpful for students that are struggling in school academically or with behavior.

Some suggested statements include:

  • You really hung in there to complete that assignment.
  • You got right to work after directions were given.
  • I was impressed today when you ____ .
  • When you did _____ , that showed special effort. 
  • It is not easy to _____ , but you are making progress by ____ . 
  • Your cooperation is really appreciated. 
  • You should feel proud of your work on ____ because ____ . 
Finding ways to incorporate more positive, encouraging statements with students struggling with behavior can help build your relationship and make a positive difference in their interactions in class.

What are some positive statements you use with students?

Monday, February 1, 2016

power struggles with students

"Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, 
anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending."

The year is halfway over, and while we can't really make a brand new start at this point in the year, there are ways to shift planning, instruction, assessment, and management to make a real difference in how a classroom functions. This post will focus on one management struggle common for new teachers: the power struggle. It is easier to set the tone at the beginning of the year, but can be done at a new semester or if things are not going well. Now can be a good time to test out alternative processes and procedures if classroom management is not working effectively. 

Teachers know that there is not a winner if a power struggle begins with a student. When frustrated, it can be difficult to know what to do in the moment to maintain the integrity of your instruction while addressing an issue with a student. Several key resources can help you find strategies that work for you and your students.

Intervention Central provides ideas for disengaging, distracting, and deescalating power struggles with students. NEA makes suggestions for planning and building relationships through a list of dos and don'ts as it relates to power struggles with students. And an article on Edutopia shares the perspective that it is not about getting the last word in these management struggles.

What are your most effective management strategies when faced with a power struggle?