One of my mentor teachers has two ninth-grade classes, one during first period and one during third period. I have benefited from this arrangement because I am able to observe during her first period and then teach during her third period. As I teach third period, I try to incorporate the strategies I saw her use that I thought worked rather well.
An effective technique which she uses while opening lessons is to have students complete a warm-up activity almost every day. This is a grammar practice in which the students take turns going to the board and correcting one of three sentences. This is an effective technique because it ensures that the students practice grammar each day, it gives them the opportunity to get out of their seats and practice talking in front of the class, and, classroom management-wise, it ensures that the students begin working, learning, and thinking as soon as they enter the classroom.
During lessons, one of her most effective classroom management strategies is to constantly walk around the room as students work. This helps to keep the students on-task, and it makes it more likely that the students will ask for help when they need it. At the end of lessons, she demands that students stay in their seats. This is an effective classroom management strategy because it keeps the students from lining up at the door and, eventually, wandering into the hallway before the bell has rung.
Three of the most common transitions are those between the warm-up activity and the overall lesson, notes and individual work, and individual work and whole-class review of that work. She manages each of these transitions by simply announcing the activity that the students will be completing next and telling them how much time they have before the next activity starts. This is effective because it prevents the students from constantly asking how much time they have left or “what’s next?”, and it reminds the students of their time constraints so that they work diligently. In addition to this, she has students copy down the agenda for the day at the beginning of each class. This allows transitions to go more seamlessly because the students already know what to expect next and how many activities they are expected to complete each day.
Out of all of the classroom management strategies that I have observed, the one which I am most excited to use in my classroom is a cellphone organizer at the front of the room. At the beginning of each class, my mentor teacher has students place their cellphones in the organizer (each student is assigned a specific slot), and she awards bonus points to students who have placed their cellphones in the organizer. I plan to use this in my classroom but to revamp it a bit. Many of these students do not seem to be motivated by bonus points, and they still use their phones during class even though they are not allowed to, so I would like to use the cellphone organizer as a means of taking attendance. If the student has not placed their cellphone in the organizer, then I will assume that they are absent. Another change that I will make is in regards to when the students can retrieve their cellphones. My mentor does not allow the students to get their phones even when they have finished all of their work for the day. Instead of following this example, I will use cellphone usage as an award and give students two-three minutes to use their phone at the end of class if they have finished all of their work and worked hard.