Know your students names! This can be especially tricky when you are starting at a new school and have to learn the entire school ASAP. Since this last year I taught 1st-5th and this coming year they are adding PreK and Kindergarten to my mix, I will have to learn names for all of the PreK, Kindergarten and 1st Grade. I have a TERRIBLE memory and I know it can sometimes take a while, but you need to learn names just as quickly as you can. It is much more powerful when you are trying to connect with or correct a student if you are able to use their names. To do this I play lots of name games at the beginning of the year. Here are a couple of my favorites:
Be Ready for the Students
This is not always easy when you have one grade leaving and the next at the door, but your room and materials need to be set and ready for the next group to walk in the door. If that means they are waiting in the hallway for an extra 30 seconds so that you can go to your computer and switch from the 4th grade slides to the 3rd grade slides and find the first song on itunes that they will be moving to, so be it. It is worth it to not have students sitting and waiting DURING class.
I get all my materials for my morning up on my computer or set in my room in the morning before my classes start and I do the same thing over my lunch for my afternoon classed. Every second is important so having everything in place from the time students walk in the door will help you to not waste any class time. My board spots are numbered and I also have certain jobs assigned to a few of them, so that if I say "lights", "door" or "projector", that a student is on top of it and it is one less thing that I have to do. This also helps with multiple students volunteering to help do something.
Thing through each of the steps you students will need to do to be successful at a game or activity. I remember being in a workshop with Andrew Ellingsen and something as simple as telling us to point our shoes in the direction we were going to move in the circle immediately took care of anyone going the wrong way.
Lesson plans need to be well thought out, include a variety of songs and activities, and transitions should help weave you songs together and eliminate a lot of the talking or off task behaviors that can happen between songs.
Music room rules and procedures: Last year I came up with a set of music room rules that spelled out "MUSIC".
My rules are:
M - Make good choices
U- Use kind words
S- Show respect to classmates, teacher, and music (I love that this includes showing respect to the music, and it helps when kids think it's ok to sing less than their best)
I- Involve yourself
C- Care for our room and instruments
The rules are on posters that I display at the front of my room:
To accompany each of these rules I created a song based on a familiar folk songs. I display these using my projector at the beginning of the year and whenever they need the reminder until they are all memorized.
Singing the songs is so much more joyful and memorable than sitting there on the first week of school and talking through your classroom rules. Then later when I see a student not making good choices, I only have to hum or sing "Make good choices, make good choices...." and they get themselves back on track.
I have them available in a bird theme as well:
Routines: From day one we practice all of the music room procedures. It is important to set the expectations, and be firm in your expectations. My first year I was a real softy. I got walked all over because I did not follow through with my consequences each time. There can be no exceptions. When something is not as you expect it should be, students need to be reminded of the rules and procedures and practice again until they accomplish the task appropriately. Most classes get the idea pretty quick that THEY would much rather play then practice entering or transitioning quietly.
When you are having repeated behavior problems from a student...
The first step is to remain calm. Under no circumstance should a child ever see you escalate because of their behavior. It truly just fuels the fire.
When I start to see something going astray, here are some things I do:
1) Move closer to the area where the issue is. Sometimes proximity will be enough to correct it. Tapping a student on the back may be a good reminder as you are walking around the classroom.
2) Make eye contact with the student and with the students around them. If one student is trying to pull in more, you can often make it stop by giving a stern eye to the students who they are trying to engage with.
3) Verbally acknowledge the appropriate behaviors you are seeing from others.
4) Give a verbal cue to the offender. Whether it is just their name or a reminder of what they should be doing.
5) If the behavior continues, I give the student two choices I can live with "You may participate appropriately with the group, or you can learn by sitting out and watching others participate appropriately. You pick." Then I turn away. I do not stand and wait for their answer. If they choose to participate appropriately, I may say something like "Good choice" a few minutes later where only they can hear it.
6) If the student does not make a choice, it then becomes my choice and it may not be the same for every student. This is where you really have to know your kids. For some kids it may be sitting out, for others it may be a visit with their classroom teacher, or a phone call home.
On my summer "to do" list is to read this book
I think that it will give me some great tools to add to my classroom management toolbox.
What are your best strategies for Dazzling Discipline? I'd love to hear them below!