Take Back That Class - How I Learned to Love Teaching All Over Again Darren Barkett
Classroom management is a challenge for every teacher working in today's schools. If only our students simply wanted to learn! Sadly, that is not the case. Today's 21st century students require an entirely different approach. If you've been struggling with motivating your students to learn, getting your students to listen, and encouraging your students to do their best, this book will help you. Darren Barkett of Helping Teachers Grow has been working with students from many different backgrounds for over 15 years. The strategies he uses with his students are the same strategies described in this book. They are strategies that will help you take your class back from the rowdy and disruptive students, strategies designed to maximize the amount of time you spend teaching and minimize the amount of time you spent managing student behavior. You became a teacher because you felt that helping these young people develop into life-long learners is one of the most important jobs around. Once you started, you realized how difficult that job was going to be. This book on classroom management will help you realize your potential as an educator while helping you learn to love you job all over again.
Pay Now or Pay Later
Have you ever put something off only to have it bite you in the rear later on? By that I mean, have you ever failed to do something you knew you needed to do, and then that small task ends up turning into something much larger and more painful, simply because you didn’t take care of the small task when you were supposed to?
We’re all guilty of this. I’ve got stacks on my desk of different tasks and appointments I need to get to, and every so often, something that slipped to the bottom of the stack gets forgotten about and ends up costing me money, time, and effort- all of which I could have saved if I’d only acted sooner.
Perhaps you’ve got the check engine light on in your car. You see it every day, reminding you that you’ve got a problem, but you wait, putting it off until it’s convenient for you to take your car in to the shop. Then suddenly one day, you car starts making a strange noise and begins rattling ominously as you drive down the road. You get your car into the shop as soon as possible, which is several days away due to their being very busy, only to find out that what was a minor repair two months ago turned into a major repair that week.
Managing student behavior can be a lot like this. I call this the “Pay Now or Pay Later” syndrome, and it is a driving force that constantly keeps me looking ahead when dealing with my students.
Pay now or pay later. Simply stated, if you don’t address distracting or inappropriate behavior the first time you see it, you will have to address it at some time in the future. What’s worse is that the longer you put off addressing these issues, the harder it becomes to deal with them when it is no longer possible to ignore them any longer.
Here are a few short examples:
Example One. You’re in your classroom, and one of your students pushes another student’s books off of his desk. Instead of addressing this small disruption, you give the student one of your best dirty looks and continue with your teaching. A couple of days later, and that same student pushes the same student out of the way when walking to his desk. Again, you reach deep and come up with your very worst look you can muster for that student, and continue on with your teaching.
A week later, you come into your classroom and find the bullying student holding the other student up against the wall by his throat and is threatening to beat him up. Now you have to act. You yell at the bully, grab him by his shirt and drag him down to the office where you spend five minutes telling the administrator what happened. Later that day, you get a call from the same administrator who tells you that the bullied student reported to him that you had witnessed this bullying occurring for days without doing anything, and what did you have to say about that? His parents had already contacted the school and were very upset at what has been going on. They were coming that day for a meeting after school with you.
Pay now or pay later. Either way, you’re gonna pay! You might as well be proactive and stop problems before they become bigger ones.
Example Two. During the introduction of a lesson, a student interrupts loudly by saying, “This stinks! I don’t know why we have to learn this junk anyway!” Again, you fix this student with a glare and continue on. You notice this same student later during the lesson throwing an eraser at another student across the room. You tell that student, “John, please don’t throw that.”
He replies, “I wasn’t throwing anything,” and puts his head down on his desk.
The next day, the same student comes in and immediately puts his head down on his desk before you even get started. Thankful that he wasn’t going to be disruptive, you ignore the student and continue with your lesson. Halfway through your directions, though, you notice another student throwing spit balls at a third student nearby. “Frank, please don’t do that,” you tell him. He slouches down and visibly becomes upset at you.
As you continue with your directions, you hear him grumble quietly, “This stuff is so boring. I’ll never use this.” Instead of addressing that student, you ignore his remarks and continue with your lesson. As you look around, you notice that several other students are obviously not engaged in the lesson. In fact, as you take a mental check of the classroom, over half the students were clearly not paying attention. When did that happen?
Then, to top it all off, your administrator stops in for a quick observation. You manage to stumble through the rest of your lesson, but as the administrator leaves, he tells you that you need to stop by his office during your break.
Pay now or pay later.
Far too many teachers are afraid of being the “bad guy” with their students. They don’t want their students to dislike them. They are so afraid of being disliked that they would rather let the students’ inappropriate behavior rule the class than impose their own sense of order and discipline.
I have news for you. Students like a structured classroom. I’ve been in enough different schools and different classrooms with different students to know that this is true across the board.
Take Back that Class: How I Learned to Love Teaching All Over Again
~ Students prefer a teacher that can handle their students.
~ Students want to feel safe in a class.
~ Students prefer teachers who are consistent with their
handling of the students.
~ Students prefer teachers who don’t play favorites.
~ Students don’t like it when a few rowdy students are allowed
to take over the class.
~ Students would rather have a teacher whose response was
consistent and predictable rather than the “fun” teacher that lets the students get away with anything.
It seems almost counterintuitive, but it’s true. I’ve interviewed countless students on this exact issue, and they almost all answer the same. Students want a teacher who can structure the classroom environment. Students want to know that as long as they follow the rules and follow the teacher’s directions, they can achieve a measure of success in your classroom.
No students really want to fail. Even the most challenging students we face want to succeed. If you take the time to address inappropriate behavior the moment it arises, you will be helping all your students be successful. And, by doing so, you will be more successful as a teacher!
This doesn’t mean that you have to become completely hardcore with your discipline, jumping all over students for the slightest misstep. But you do need to address inappropriate behavior the first time you see it, and you need to be consistent with your enforcement and expectations...
...or you will be paying for your inattention later.
Printed with permission from Darren Barkett
Take Back That Class!
How I Learned to Love Teaching
All Over Again...a book by Darren Barkett
| After struggling through student teaching and nearly quitting the teaching profession before even getting started, Darren found himself in the mountains of western North Carolina working a part time job teaching fourth grade Language Arts. Halfway through that year, though, Darren was dealing with many of the same issues countless other teachers were dealing with on a daily basis. The students just didn’t seem to want to learn. Knowing how important an education was to these children’s future, Darren often became visibly frustrated and occasionally lost his temper with these young students. Feeling defeated and ineffective, Darren began contemplating a switch of careers. Luckily, his principal saw that Darren was suffering through a lack of classroom management skills, He was promptly bundled off to attend an intensive seminar in how to manage student behavior with a group called “Taking It All Back Home.” Little did he know that this would be the defining moment in his young professional career. Years later, that same training would still be the defining force in helping Darren through his 13 years of teaching. Even now, he finds himself enjoying the next group of students more than the last one. He comes to school every day knowing that he can face any challenge his students might choose to throw at him. In addition, Darren enjoys more and more the opportunities of working with other educators and helping them through their issues of managing difficult student behavior. Darren attended the University of Colorado at Boulder, where he achieved his Bachelors of Arts degree in English. He also received a Master’s Degree in School Administration from Western Carolina University. Living in Asheville, North Carolina, Darren still teaches as a middle school teacher. His website, www.HelpingTeachersGrow.com continues to provide online and offline training and support for teachers looking for better ways to respectfully handle student behaviors. Darren can often be found playing with his two young daughters or walking his four little dogs with his wife Lesley.