I teach a gymnastics class in the evenings and this new school year I’m faced with obstacles that I’m sure every K-12 teacher experiences many times in the course of their career. I have eight young girls in my class. Four of those girls are very well behaved and really motivated to learn. Two mean well and can sometimes be a bit of a handful, but this is to be expected. After all, we are setting kids free in a room full of trampolines, which I still love too.
The final two students have been a challenge. These two girls are interested in only the “fun” events: trampoline, zip line, and on special weeks, the castle bounce. They don’t make an effort during warm-up and stretches. They don’t listen while I’m giving directions, and they end up swinging from the bars like wild animals instead of practicing the drills that they will need to know to be successful with the harder skills we learn next.
My role as a teacher in an athletic facility is much different than that of a classroom teacher. If my kids don’t learn to be Olympians I’m not going to lose my job. I’m there to teach kids gymnastics but also to help them have fun in a safe, character building environment. So if at any point the unmotivated students disrupt the class, I can take them to the trampoline for a “free turn,” and still see them as I work on the floor teaching the other girls an advanced skill.
Teachers often juggle multiple subjects in addition to students at different skill levels every day while trying to help all students succeed. They can’t give those who aren’t interested or have behavior issues something fun to keep them engaged while explaining long division to the kids who want to learn. So what’s a teacher to do?
Managing a classroom plays a huge role in teachers accomplishing the goals they have for the school year. Having a tool box of strategies before you even walk into the classroom for the first time each school year can make a world of difference. The more approaches you have available, the more students you can reach. Why not arm yourself with an arsenal of classroom management strategies?
Classroom management issues can stem from students with behavior problems, or a well-behaved kid who is bored, students learning at vastly different levels in the same classroom, overcrowding, and the list goes on and on. Our Office of Continuing Education has some courses that focus on the specifics of many of these areas, such as Behavior Management for the Special Needs Child, Curriculum Development, Classroom Management, and others with a more detailed focus per subject area.
We have found that so many people are looking to learn about classroom management that we are offering the course by that name online and in person this semester. A well managed classroom can take some of the guess work out of how to keep kids engaged whether they are doing a chemistry experiment or swinging on the parallel bars. Our courses may provide you with academic explanations of why common issues occur and help you come up with a plan to tackle the circumstances in your classroom, but there are many quick resources available too.
The National Education Association (NEA) has six classroom management tips that can help in almost any scenario. Their tips about incentives and consequences helped me better manage my two students holding back the rest of my gymnastics class. I should have been removing incentives like the trampoline, not sending them where they wanted to go when they weren’t paying attention!
Have you ever seen a substitute teacher wilt from the behavior or words of a class of mischievous teenagers? It’s the same feeling that many teachers of any subject feel the first time they are in charge in their own classroom. Education World has some survival skills for substitute teachers that we can all learn from.
Of course experience counts for a lot. Some of my best resources at the gymnastics school are people who have been coaching for years. They have likely seen every type of kid walk into their gym. Perhaps there’s a veteran teacher at your school that could offer suggestions for getting a classroom with different types of learners all on the same track. Do you have a classroom management technique to share?