This is a partially completed draft (about two-thirds of sections complete, no images or citations) of my final Classroom Management Plan for the F658 course, and hopefully for implementation in future years.
- Introduction: Why CM is Important
The concept of Classroom Management — all rules, procedures, and routines for handling the curriculum, student positive and negative behavior and discipline, conflict resolution, listening to issues, time management, and engaging with parents and other stakeholders in the school and the community at large — is essential because teachers are responsible for the care and raising of children and teenagers for nearly a third of their waking life, at a child-to-adult ratio ten times higher than parent-based families; for imparting the knowledge and skills that will prepare them for independent adult life even if they themselves are unwilling to receive this knowledge, and for managing interactions and being law enforcement in a community the size of a small town. This can’t happen by improvising; preparation, self-reflection, and active discussion with the students are required, and the teacher must be seen as a leader and an island of stability that makes the time spent in class worthwhile.
- Preparation Before the School Year Starts
o Organizing Classroom and Materials
My classroom of up to 22 students is normally arranged in pairs of desks in the middle of the room facing the whiteboards at the front, and the teacher’s desk and homework tray also at the front. This gives room to walk freely and ensures that students work on assignments in pairs by default. A countertop with storage drawers holds classroom materials; on top are that day’s supply of worksheets, pencils, pens, scrap paper, and a pencil sharpener. At least two other tables or storage cabinets contain the same materials (except for the lesson-specific worksheets) plus paper towels, tissues, scotch tape, hand lotion, and bandages. Bookshelves near the front contain both spare textbooks and space for binders. These binders, one per student, will be a portfolio of completed materials. The overhead projector linked to the teacher’s laptop will shine on one of the whiteboards.
o Getting Off to a Good Start
Ideally, I would have time to send an E-mail blast to every student and every parent outlining my curriculum goals and expectations at least two weeks before school begins. However, students are often registering up to the very last minute (and after) in this school. The first week of school, Orientation Week, will be a chance to get to know one another. I start by greeting incoming students at the door with a handshake (they don’t have to accept) and a hello. I will ask everyone to choose a seat to which they’ll be assigned for the first month, and ask them to give each other’s name and hometown, taking attendance by that means. I will hand out a survey of personal interests to be turned in to me, and then I’ll conduct non-mandatory icebreaker activities, including a game where each student tosses a foam ball to one specific other student and the ball makes the rounds that way; or a game where students write on index cards a favorite movie, book, beverage, activity, etc., and then re-group themselves and tell personal information that they want each other to know.
- Routines, Policies, Procedures, and Rules
o Rules/Procedures and How They Will Be Enforced
The first week would be for discussing the rules and why they are necessary. I would start with five non-negotiable rules:
– Be ready to learn when you enter.
– Respect the right of others to learn.
– Take responsibility for your own words and actions.
– Do not hurt anyone, physically or emotionally.
– No electronics use unless specifically approved by the teacher.
From there, we would talk about procedures. My preferred one is to allow students to speak in groups when I am playing music, then stop talking and listen when the music stops or when I raise my hand and say “I need your attention.’ All others — the handling of homework, the procedure for dismissal, etc. — are up for negotiation from certain starting points. Students would discuss these and then draft a Student Bill of Rights, which would be drawn up by volunteers with the best handwriting, and then signed by everyone and tacked to the wall. Since many students enroll late or transfer in, every two weeks or so there would be a few minutes for “amendments’ (if requested by the new students) and additional signatures.
o Management at the School Level
The current Galena City School District has two schools that share students and teachers: the local Sidney C. Huntington School, and the Galena Interior Learning Academy boarding school. Students are bused from one school to the other depending on course schedule, before 1st period, after lunch, and after last period. Minor infractions (cell phone use, sleeping, disobedience of class rules, failing to work during allotted class times) are handled with first a quiet warning, then a one-on-one conference after the class period, then a visit to that school’s principal; while major infractions (property damage, throwing things, fighting) go straight to detention for the first offense and an out-of-school suspension for the second. A Student Handbook available online delineates these infractions clearly.
o Beginning and Ending the Class Period
There are only five minutes between the four class periods per day (block scheduling), so greeting at the door isn’t always feasible. However, I call out a hello and each student’s name as they enter. The whiteboard or projector has a list of what materials to get at the start of class — usually their binders and a pen/pencil — and what homework is due. I start with a short and amusing or informative video, either Science in the News or a preview of the day’s lesson, and then students begin a short worksheet covering material from approximately two lessons prior to the day.
Ten minutes before the end of class I announce what homework is assigned and when it is due, then students share knowledge anonymously by filling out “exit tickets,’ index cards of as many things as they remember, and then passing them around and reading each other’s work. By the end of that activity, three or four minutes remain, and they return their binders to the shelves (unless they prefer to take them home), clean up the space under their desks, and line up single-file at the door. Anyone whose desk is not clean is removed from the line to fix the error; regardless of any bell, no one is dismissed without my say-so, and they hand their exit tickets at the door.
o Transitions and Use of Materials
The end of every major activity is preceded by a five-minute warning and then a one-minute warning. There is a five-minute break in the middle of every 90-minute class where students may use cell phones and talk, but I use this time to discuss discipline issues with certain students as needed. Each new activity is punctuated with “When I say GO…’ and simple-as-possible instructions, then “GO.’ Evacuation emergencies (fire drills), students line up single-file on the path to the emergency exit, I grab the walkie-talkie and attendance sheet, and then everyone files out to the assembly area and stays together as a class until I hear the signal to return.
Materials needed for the day are gathered on the countertop at the front, and students do not get them until ready to use them. Students have the right to sharpen pencils when I am not talking. Students who wish to use the restroom or drinking fountain must sign a hall pass sheet and take one hall pass; only two students may be out at a time, and if they’re gone more than ten minutes I call the principal for a lookout.
o Group Work and Teacher-Led Activities
Teacher-led activities are usually a lecture with students getting time to write down (or draw a diagram of) critical points on slides, but sometimes the making of a poster or a foldable study guide; watching a series of short videos and answering questions as a class; or seeing a series of “sneak preview’ images of a future topic, about which students can write or say their observations and nothing is yet answered. Each activity is broken into multiple short steps, each step preceded with “When I say GO…’; if steps cannot be broken down easily, I will give the full instruction and then ask students to talk with each other and ask “Does anyone know of a question someone in the class might have about what you need to do?’
Group work is typically filling out worksheets together (which is why the desks are arranged in pairs), but occasionally we work on lab experiments. We review lab safety as a class with all students responding to questions and prompts. Then I give students numbers and tell them to move to that number of lab table, thus randomizing the groups. I ask each group to choose one person to gather materials, one person to manipulate the materials, one person to read the data, and the remaining students to write the data. I stop the class if students are working too far ahead, for safety reasons; then I circulate around the room to check if groups are on-task.
- Safety and Legal Requirements
o Discipline and Consequences
Students are allowed to work in class for a reason: I can provide guidance on a topic before homework is ever assigned. Students who refuse to work during class are instructed to attend the 45-minute After School study session, and if they fail to show, are written up for academic non-compliance. When I hear talking when I am talking, I pause and make eye contact with the offenders. When I see minor infractions such as cell phone use, I call the name and glance at the cell phone until the student takes the hint. For sleepers, I circulate around the room and whisper in their ear or tap on the desk; if they’re out cold, I call their name loudly. Backtalk usually gets a Post-it note passed to them as I circulate the room, saying to meet in the hall during the break or after class where we discuss what’s happening outside of class and why the student feels uncomfortable doing the work or focusing on the lesson. Refusal to talk or speak one-on-one goes to the next level of discipline, talking to the principal.
o Safety Rules/Procedures in Place at GCSD
GCSD has monthly fire drills. The fire evacuation routes are posted and all teachers have walkie-talkies for use during that time. In the event of a damaged water line or other unsafe condition at one campus of the school (SHS or GILA), students are bussed to the other campus for the day and classrooms and work spaces have to be shared.
Any student may request to see the front office or onsite school counselor for mental health issues without suffering negative consequences in the classroom. They may also visit the front office for needed medications (the school doctor usually unavailable because she is also the town doctor), and clinic appointments can be scheduled as an excused absence, with parental approval by phone and transportation provided by the school. Traveling off campus during school hours without staff supervision is a major infraction that can go straight to detention.
All visitors must check-in at the front desk and can only enter a classroom during school hours by prior appointment. Galena is a town of fewer than 500 with access in and out by airplane and barge, no highways; so the risk of an active shooter is considered acceptably low that there are not currently provisions for it in the Student Handbook.
- Planning and Conducting Instruction
o Teacher-Student Relationships and Maintaining Student Behavior
Although I tend to be near my desk when showing a video, pausing the video and elaborating on certain points gives me a chance to pace around the room and grab the attention of students who might be wandering. When I hear a question, I try to repeat it louder (if the student is very quiet); I thank everyone who gives any answer to a question, until someone gets it right; I listen to questions students ask about science, even if off-topic, and promise to get an answer in a lesson the following week.
o Personal Interest in Students and Engagement Strategies
Although I’ve never been a fan of sports, most student activities are sports-oriented, so I spend time either attending a home game or reading about a team’s performance on the city’s news webpage. I ask students coming in how their weekend was, if they got enough sleep, if they’re feeling okay, or what they did for fun last night.
o Differentiation Needs and Strategies
My students are a mix of freshmen from multiple Alaskan villages and a few upperclassmen that may have learned the Physical Science concepts in Biology or Earth Science a year prior. As a result, the reading skills range from high school to 2nd grade, and the math skills range from trigonometry down to basic arithmetic. My in-class quizzes are managed by time, not completion: the questions get progressively harder until they reach concepts that haven’t even been taught yet, so the high achievers still don’t get finished in the allotted time and the struggling students work as much as they need to. I also use Achieve3000
o Special Needs Students
Roughly 10% of my students have an IEP, often requiring deadline extensions on assignments, clarification and rereading of directions, a flexible schedule, a calculator for all math, and sometimes preferential seating in smaller groups.
o Withitness and Emotional Objectivity
“Withitness’ implies the ability to sense problems before they happen, and head them off by working the crowd. My biggest concern is that my lesson plans are not polished enough for me to feel confident delivering them: when students are not writing an assignment but are expected to listen or observe, and more than one falls asleep, I can’t come up with something interesting enough to keep them awake if I rouse them.
I try very hard to assume the best in everyone: that anyone who lashes out is just having a bad day and attacking indiscriminately. The drawback is when the same person engages in the behavior every day.
o Cultural Diversity
I have not had significant training in understanding cultural differences between lower-48 Americans and Alaska Natives, but I have learned from a fellow teacher that the preferred method of teaching in Native societies is for an elder to perform a task while the student observes and then copies. Thus, many of my planned assignments are actually Guided Practice, with students passing in questions that were both asked and answered as a group.