Friday, June 22, 2012

Behold the Dry Erase Marker

As you know, I've been learning how to manage my new class. I've learned a lot in my first three weeks. Whenever I catch students talking in the middle of a lesson, I tell them that they can sit quietly and focus on the lesson or they can practice being quiet during their break. Of course, they say that they would rather be quiet and focused during the lesson, but whether they will actually do it is another question. I also tell them that the next time they disrupt my lesson, I need to keep them in during break. But, that doesn't really deter students all that much.

At first, I was too lazy to record names on the whiteboard. I was hoping that my memory would be faithful enough to just remember who is making noise in the classroom. I was getting sick of students calling out, so I busted out my green marker and wrote a name down so that I could keep track. That quieted down students really fast. I was surprised by that. I can only speculate about why me writing down students' names contributed to quieting the class down.

#1 The students see that I am keeping track. So, they know that as long as I have the names on the whiteboard, I will not forget about them.

#2 Other students see names on the whiteboard and they don't want to suffer the same fate as their peers.

Something else happened today that was particularly effective. So, here's the thing. I give my students one chance. On my students' second disruption, I put a check by their name. That means that they must stay in for five minutes. Today was movie day. I know that everyone in the classroom loves movie day. So, I told them that every disruption that occurs after the first check next to their name will take an additional minute from their movie time. That was also quite successful in quieting students down. Why is that? I'll give you my best explanation.

#1 I was taking away their movie time and they love that alot.

#2 They saw that their consequences didn't stop at 5 minutes. After they saw that I kept adding on more minutes each time that they disrupted, they eventually decided (perhaps in their head) "Ok... I should probably shut up now." On the other hand, on a different day, when I just gave them 5 minutes and moved them out of the room on the third disruption, they would still continue to disrupt the class after they came in. So, that tells me that it is important to have consequences that can be augmented. If you have consequences that can continuously be augmented, then you can keep increasing the magnitude of the consequence. As long as the consequence is attached to something that they value (e.g. break, movie), they'll continue to try to restrain themselves little by little. Or at least, that's been my experience so far.

Good personal lessons in behavior management.

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