Author: Alex Van Wyhe


These articles complemented each other well and presented a fair picture of the research that was involved. Of course, the findings are the most interesting part. I was not surprised by the results of this study. Other blogs confirm that many of us had similar experiences in school and are able to identify these types of students quite simply. Being quite young myself, my memories are quite near. The pseudo-mature behavior’s manifestation in the early college years have been a pet peeve of mine since I began college. What isn’t cool about  getting drunk in Cutler before breakfast on a Sunday and screaming “RALLY BRUH!” in the ears of your hungover friends (sarcasm based on an anecdotal event relayed to me by peers). There was one particular point in the NYT article that I thought was worth pulling out. The author warns parents not to worry if their child isn’t “popular” and instead has a few close friends. This lesson suggests that the pseudo-mature students were likely praised for the behavior that wasn’t getting them in trouble, thus enabling and encouraging the behavior. I think that might be part of the reason that “popular” people start to look foolish  once you remove them from their context. As teachers, I think that we can take away from this article the lesson that we should encourage students to express their individuality and to guide them towards making mature decisions that will foster healthy relationships and habits that will be truly useful to them later in life.

Transition Strategies

A common strategy that I have seen in ELA classrooms is having students work on some sort of a warm up activity at the beginning of class. I like this strategy as it provides a consistent routine and expectations for students to follow. Different teachers align these warm ups with different standards. Many see it as a good time to practice grammar or grow vocabulary.

Once the students are settled in and working on the day’s task, a management strategy that I have seen work well is to circulate and check in with students. Often you will find students struggling with something but not asking for help until you approach them. Additionally, it is a good way to keep students on task by being physically present in their area of the room. Depending on the task the students are engaged in, the strategy changes. If students are discussing something, you might sit and listen. If students are off task, you can gently guide them back.

One end of class procedure that I have seen work well and continue to try to implement is to keep students in their seats until the end of the bell by having them writing or talking about something. While exit tickets are not necessary every day, they are a good way to keep students occupied and as a formative assessment tool. If the day does not demand an exit ticket, or if students are obviously burnt out, engaging them in a conversation at the end of class seems to be an effective strategy for keeping them in their seats. It is also a great time to review what they should be doing for the next class, as well as the objectives of the next class.

Three transitional strategies that I have seen work well include: Modeling, Pre-corrections, and Active Supervision. Modeling transitions is important to do at the beginning of the year to make sure that students are aware of expectations. It is also important to continue modeling these behaviors as well as correcting them when they are not followed and praising them when they are. Pre-corrections are another good strategy for transitions. If you see students beginning to not follow the transition protocol, you head them off and bring everyone back together. This can be enforced by explicitly noting the misbehavior or by subtly correcting it, depending on the student and situation. For example, if we are transitioning between computer work and group discussion, I ask students to close their computers. If students open them back up, I either call them out on it, start a pregnant pause and put my attention in their direction, or walk over to them and tap the desk. Finally, active supervision is a strategy that should be happening constantly in the classroom, especially when students are interacting with one another. That way, if students are getting off task, you can redirect them towards the topic. It is also a great time to conduct informal/formative assessments to gather data.

One strategy that I have observed that works well to open classes, particularly after not seeing students for a while, is to open classes by asking for a couple of volunteers to share how their weekend went. The teacher should also share in this situation. I have seen this strategy work to increase classroom community and to make students feel more comfortable with one another and with the teacher. I would like to try a similar technique. Specifically, I would like to try talking with students about a big idea that has been on my mind over the weekend and then tie that into the lesson somehow. This way you could transition and hook at the same time and also model ways to connect what is happening in the classroom with what is happening in “real life.”

Classroom Management Resources – Blog 4

Both of the blog posts above deal with engaging with students in a positive way. The first article discusses the importance of personal relationships with students; the second gives tips for developing a classroom culture of laughter in which students are encouraged to take academic risks and the general culture is of support rather than ridicule.

This is a blog dedicated to classroom management tips, whereas the two above fall under “Collaborative Learning” and “Arts Integration” respectively. From printable worksheets to discussions on ethical dilemmas, this blog is a go-to resource for most any situation. It also hosts other blog categories related to content areas, professional development, etc.

The above website brings together resources that can help teachers if they are struggling with classroom management, or want to try new strategies. While some of the titles seem to be aimed at the elementary level primarily, the content is applicable to the secondary level as well.

This video runs a bit long at over 11 minutes, but it is worth the watch. It gives helpful hints specifically for new teachers about strategies to help run an effective classroom. These classroom management tips deal with both behavior and ways to make your teaching sustainable by not overloading yourself with grading, talking, etc.



Suicide on Campus

While this article’s main focus is on suicide, the lenses through which it interprets the issue bring to bear  two pervasive problems in our society. The first being the over-involvement and -investment of parents in their children’s lives. And the second being the falsehoods presented by social media and the corresponding way that people carry and perceive themselves. These issues in tandem put pressures on students that are difficult to handle.

Despite mainly discussing college-level students, these problems also present themselves at the secondary and even elementary school levels. As teachers, I believe that the way we can address this problem is by working as positive forces in the lives of our students and actively working to against negative cultural influences. I am not advocating getting rid of social media or of discouraging parental involvement, instead, we should approach these cultural influences and harness their strengths. By modeling the use of  social media to build people up and closer together rather than strengthen invisible divides we can provide students with a means of advocating for themselves. Similarly, by involving parents in candid discussions about the benefits of productive failure (not of a course, but of specific tasks/assignments/opportunities) and working in tandem to help students improve in the face of failure we can help students to develop a healthy perspective on learning and success. In doing all of this we should also encourage students to participate in activities that build, reinforce, and deepen their internal and individual senses of self-worth.

Rules Rule


At the beginning of the year my mentor already had her very basic rules set for her classroom. Mainly focused on encouraging students’ senses of personal responsibility in the classroom, these are her rules: 1. Always have something that you are working on. 2. Constantly think about what, how, and why you are learning or working. 3. Behave in a way that allows everyone else to follow rules 1 and 2. The rest of her rules and procedures are introduced and enforced verbally, but her main strategy is to build rapport with students, and manage the classroom that way.

I enjoy this style and can see that it works for her, but in my own classroom I would be more explicit about my expectations for how the classroom should look. Preparedness and professionalism are both important skills, especially as students near graduation and are getting ready to move into the “real world.” As such, the first rule is “Come to class physically and intellectually prepared to learn.” In other words, have what you need, including your turned on brain, to be a contributing member of the intellectual community that exists inside the classroom. The second rule: “Respect the opinions and ideas of others.” In order for students to learn, they must feel safe sharing their ideas in the classroom. Rule #3: “Give of yourself and encourage others to do the same.” Piggy backing off of Rule 2, this rule encourages students to be open with their ideas and to practice being helpful and engaged classroom citizens. Finally, Rule #4: “Be willing to fail and to learn from the experience.” This one might require different wording so that students don’t check out and take Fs, but the idea, as with all of these rules, is to encourage students to approach learning as a process and a journey that is not absolutely right or wrong, but individual to each of their circumstances. By designing classroom rules around the fact that individuals are students I am trying to make the rules a tool for student learning rather than simple management. A productive way to get buy in from students on these rules would be to present them as your expectations and then to have a discussion with students about what the rules mean. Put aside any ego and allow revisions to be made so that the rules make sense to the students while still achieving the same desired effect.

Below are a few  resources that I found helpful when thinking about designing classroom rules:



Alex Van Wyhe – Introduction

Hello, all:

My name is Alex Van Wyhe and this is my fourth year in Fairbanks at UAF. Last December I completed my BA in English with a minor in History and I am currently student-teaching at West Valley High School.

I grew up on a farm in Kenny Lake, AK, a small town about 300 miles south of Fairbanks and continue to spend summers there in my cabin (I have a beautiful view of the  Wrangell mountains that makes it hard to leave). In my free time I try to be outside as much as possible. I enjoy canoeing and other water sports for pleasure as well as for work – in the summers I work for the BLM doing river and trail monitoring along with working on the family farm and working my garden.

Looking forward to class and getting to know you all!