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As much as we can love teaching children, the challenge in education today is to effectively teach children of diverse abilities and differing rates of learning, while maintaining good classroom management.
I am always seeking new strategies to improve executive functioning and self-regulation that would meet children of differing abilities.
When 80% of what children learn is through visual learning, it is a given that we need to use visuals effectively to help our children feel safe, confident and in control so that they can become independent and successful learners.
After teaching for almost fourteen years and working with countless teachers, I have learned that we have to be intentional about using all the learning styles when we are teaching so that we can engage all the students.
I am a firm believer in sharing what we learn. We are all students as much as we are teachers.
Here is a summary of the top five mistakes we as teachers make, each followed by a suggested possible solution that has worked for me.
Many behaviour problems result from students simply not understanding what they are supposed to do. This is particularly true when teachers only give verbal directions instead of making them visual as well.
Classroom management solution: Make sure to provide as many visual cues as possible for what students are expected to do.
Have a visual schedule of your day at the front of the room and go over it in the morning, just so children know what to expect. Kids will be more cooperative and independent just because they can predict what is happening next.
The number one cause of anxiety for our children is not knowing what is going to happen next and having a visual indicator is very important and necessary.
Mistake 2 – Talking over Students
When teachers start talking to the students before everyone has stopped talking, the students who don’t hear what the teacher is saying will possibly turn to ask a neighbor, or follow instructions incorrectly. Then we unfortunately blame the students for being poor listeners when it is poor timing on the teacher’s part.
Classroom management solution: Wait for quiet!
Signal with a clap or bell or a beta interrupt and wait five seconds for quiet and whole body listening before speaking.
It is easy to notice and catch misbehavior, where we can spend lots of time and energy, which results in wasting class time and possibly embarrassing the student and distracting the entire class. Then you have to spend more time getting the whole class back on track because of one student’s behavior.
Classroom management solution: Focus on the correct behavior!
It will take more conscious effort to do this but it is worth it and so much more effective to catch the student doing good, positive and correct behavior. Sometimes it takes a little waiting and a little searching to find something to catch, but when you do, that student will shine and rise to the occasion and will be eager to repeat that positive behavior.
Mistake 4 – Speaking in “Don’ts”
Telling students to “don’t do something” makes it double challenging for them. If someone says don’t think about chocolate, you will think about chocolate. Similarly, if you tell a child not touch the person in front of him, he or she will be thinking about touching the person in front of him.
Classroom management solution: Speak in “Dos”!
Rather than tell students what not to do or picture themselves doing, tell students what to do and picture themselves doing. What you instruct the student in the affirmative will effectively remind the student of the correct behaviour and immediately deal with the problem at hand (Ethan, put your hands in your lap). It can also distract the student with another activity altogether (Ethan, show me thumbs up for sitting nicely!).
A student is doing something out of the ordinary (like eating a granola bar at his desk while everyone else is quietly doing desk work) and the teacher gets upset and tells her to put it away or throw it out. What we may not realize is that this student did not get to eat breakfast and her mom or a friend gave her something to eat and she was so hungry that she chose that very moment to try to satisfy her hunger.
Classroom management solution: Learn about the student!
Take time to know your students, their family life, and their family situation. Read their file or have a chat with last year’s teacher. During attendance, twice a day ask a question and have them answer so you get to know each student a little more each and every day. They love telling you about themselves.
We need to be our students’ greatest cheerleader in learning. Sometimes we may be the only cheerleader they have.
Written By Elaine Tan Comeau, Mom of Three, Wife, Award Winning Entrepreneur and Educator, Creator of Easy Daysies® Magnetic Schedules for Kids, Dragons’ Den Winner and 2014 Canadian Mompreneur of the Year www.EasyDaysies.com, Mompreneurs® – Vancouver Chapter Owner, and Podcast Host for http://www.elaineskitchentable.com/iTunes