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It is that time of year when the sparkle of the new school year has started to lose its luster. You probably have finished a unit or two, and there is quite some time before Thanksgiving or winter break. Maybe you’ve had a a few groups of students who make you question your own sanity as you watch them “clean up,” leaving the classroom feeling like the aftermath of a tornado.
You might be wondering why things seemed so blissful those first few weeks of school when everyone listened like little cherubs to your guiding angelic voice. Now, you cross your fingers and hope your administrator does not walk by as your students dart around like feral cats while you tell students to, “Take just ONE paper towel!” using your angry teacher voice.
You and your students have probably gotten a little lax when it comes to routines and behavior. That is okay. Don’t worry. You are not alone. It’s never too late to put some new routines and strategies in place and make beautiful artwork in your classroom.
You might have gone over your routines at the beginning of the year until you thought your students could do them in their sleep. Now, everything has fallen apart. Slow down and take some time to review. It’s ok to admit something is not working. You cannot assume your students will remember everything or your passionate speech about paintbrush care will stay with them the whole year.
“But, I only have so much time with my students!” you might say. Yes, your time is limited, but a bad routine or habit will only get worse and take up more creative time in the future. Tell your students why you are reviewing and changing up a routine. Remind them it will maximize their artmaking time in class. A great way to review a routine is to take a simple smartphone video. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy. Show it again and again throughout the year as a friendly reminder.
Here’s an example of a quick video I made for my students to remind them about our sink rules.
Sometimes you have an incredibly tough group of students who don’t seem to respond to any of the tricks in your bag. Maybe you are on the brink of apathy. Come off the ledge and ask for help. You have supports in your environment; use them. Reach out to another teacher and explain what is going on. Chances are, you aren’t the only one struggling with a particular student or group. You might find out a student or class has a behavior plan or something they are working toward as a reward. Use it to your advantage! Talk about your concerns with your administrator or school counselor. Ask someone to observe this student or class while you teach to provide insight into what else might be going on. Use the experts and resources around you. You might be surprised at what you find out.
It may sound like a simplistic solution, but you can use tape on the floor (or almost anywhere) to show students where to stand, sit, watch, and wait.
Here are 4 ideas.
Will students always follow the tape guidelines? Not a chance. But it will help give structure to some common problem areas.
The beginning of the year is usually fresh with possibility and good behavior. Teachers constantly revisit and renew their classroom management throughout the year so they can maximize their students’ creative opportunities. Don’t be afraid to try something new or ask for help as the honeymoon ends – let the artmaking begin!
What might you “slap some tape on” and try to review in your classroom?
What has been your biggest problem area with classroom management this year?