I have posted in a while. I really have thought about it a lot, but I guess I've just kept my many ruminations in my head.
My math colleague and I have been doing a book study of Assertive Discipline by Lee Canter. I think I have grown a lot as a classroom manager, but there are aspects that I look to improve upon. This is especially so as every year I have taught here, there has been a lot of change that happens. This year's major change is our restructuring, which has me splitting myself between a "regular" classroom and my lab in the other building. Class time is five minutes less than last year, which is bothersome considering time lost to traveling to the lab. Additionally, a good portion of the labs and activities I do will have to be majorly modified because of the split rooms. This is something I have been thinking about a lot as I plan for the upcoming year.
I have read up through Ch. 8. A few things have really stuck out to me. This is something I know and have improved upon, but keeping my excitability level low. Keeping calm, cool, and collected goes along way with setting the tone in the classroom. Secondly, working that "teacher voice." I have always thought that my voice has sounded a bit young or childish for my age I also know that I don't always speak in an assertive manner. I have definitely increased this over the years, but I believe this is key with challenging students. For example, I go through streaks in which I say "I think." too much. Judging from some responses from others when I have used that, it has been evident that what I have said isn't being considered seriously. I also need to pay attention to my body language as I state directions.
A third point involves rules and corrective actions. I have had observable rules in place, but the corrective action haven't always been consistent. I take most of the responsibility for this, however, there needs to be clear expectations of what the teacher should deal with in the classroom and what the teacher shouldn't have to deal with in the classroom. There have been mixed messages with this at times, and quite honestly, students have been aware of this as well. As we transition to a new building and a new principal, I look forward to having a conversation about where the line is for student actions and teacher responsibilities in the classroom. It is very important that our team is on the same page, and that team must include the principal too.
Lastly, I have thought about the procedures that the author outlines as needed to be taught to students. I like how the author has a suggested schedule of teaching these procedures. At times, students have been bogged down with too many procedures for one day or they haven't been been presented or embedded in a logical sequence. I am going to take care to plan out the sequence of teaching procedures in a more meaningful manner.
In a thread in one of the NSTA listservs I follow, there has been a discussion going on about saying hello, shaking hands, or recognizing students in some manner. I have been out for hall duty generally between classes and I do try to acknowledge students in some manner. I would like to ramp up this effort more this upcoming school year not only in the beginning of class but during the close as well.
In addition to reading Assertive Discipline, I have started Discipline with Dignity by Curwin, Mendler, & Mendler, and I am also reading Connecting with Students by Allen Mendler. I have read a few other books by Allen mendler and I have found that he generally has strategies that workout well in the classroom. I'm going to keep on plugging away before school starts!