Classroom management is an important component in a successful classroom. This can be an area that can be very stressful if it isn't handled well. I am not an expert by any means, but I have had some success with difficult situations and many times students have been "earmarked" for my class.
Once, a boy was told by his brother that he needed to be in my class because "Mrs. Sequeira gets us!" The funny thing about it is, he was correct. I did get them. Even though they had very different needs, I was able to help them to have a successful year.
This was not always the case, and I had a lot of lessons to learn along the way. Parenting helped and I used many strategies from home in my classroom. Watching and learning from master teachers also helped.
Here are some things I learned:
I discovered that if I spent the first few weeks focusing on self-esteem and how valuable each of us is, that sets the tone for the rest of the year. I also found that focusing on the positive instead of the negative and beginning each day as a fresh start worked well. These are some of the posters that I used as a focus in my room.
I began using some of the material from Whole Brain Teaching in my classroom a couple of years ago. I didn't do as much as I would have liked, but that which I did do was very effective.
Some of the rules were modified a bit to better fit my class. Rule 1 has the words "and correctly" added. Rule 3 is completely different because I didn't require hands raised to leave seats. I have included the original versions as well.
Another thing that worked really well is removing the audience for negative behaviors. This was something I was already doing, but it was reaffirmed when I started using the Whole Brain Teaching. It is very powerful when the class helps to create the positive environment.
If you are interested in learning more about it, I would highly recommend it. You can find out more here.
Student Led Conferences
I know it seems early to start talking about assessment, but it is an on-going thing that needs to be done in order to communicate successes and concerns with parents. Meetings can begin with the meet the teacher night and continue both formally and informally throughout the year. It used to be easy to meet up with parents at the beginning or end of the day, but nowadays, so many parents are working that it is more difficult to connect with them face to face.
Meetings with the parents and sharing successes and concerns about students can be very helpful, but preparing for the meetings can be time consuming and stressful. In past years, formal conferences in our district were held once a year in the late fall. Recently this changed and conferences are now held in the fall and in the spring.
Many teachers still use a parent/teacher format, but I have found that the student-led model is far more effective. I am retired now, but this is the model I used for over 20 years and the feedback was always positive and very helpful.
I have created the following package that contains the materials I used. It has been updated this year and is more current now.
It is important to begin by sending home a letter to parents explaining what a student-led conference is and why you think it is beneficial. See the letter below.
As mentioned in the letter, a conference folder is prepared for each student. In this folder, the student's work, assessments, self-evaluations, and selected materials are kept. There is also an agenda for the day along with a math or language activity to be done with the parents, a letter template for the parent to use at the end of the conference, and a reflection sheet for the parents to complete and leave with the teacher.
Here are some of the assessments to use as well as the letter template and reflection form for the parent. I have made the forms with either a girl or a boy on them as well.
It is important that the children be prepared for the conferences, so do some role playing ahead of time. They get a kick out of being the parents and the child, so it is fun for them to do. You may have up to 3 families in the room at a time, so when doing role play, try to model that as well.
If you are not sure about doing student-led conferences, I encourage you to give them a try. You will be amazed at how valuable and positive they can be.
About Me Charlene Sequeira
I am a wife, mother of 4, grandmother of 9, and a retired primary and music teacher. I love working with kids and continue to volunteer at school and teach ukulele.