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Give Me 5!

As we embark on our new EDB NET Section PuppeTech Seed project (that's a mouthful!), first things first - classroom management.

We need to get to grips with knowing our new students in our new P3 school-based reading programme and establish classroom management strategies with them. To do this, all the teachers involved need to agree on the strategies used because effective classroom management relies on closely aligned structure and routine. In the past I have used school-wide behaviour management strategies, but I felt that in a different setting (the library), we needed to use different forms of classroom management techniques. I also wanted to encourage students to start self-regulating their behaviour more in P3 and make more positive learning choices.

Our classes in the reading lessons are split into three ability groups with no more than 12 students in each group. To reinforce agreed classroom management strategies, young ESL learners need to see visual aids which outline expected behaviour ranging from use of voice, interactions with others, moving around the class and making good learning choices.

Therefore, I created new behaviour management posters and will use ClassDojo as an eLearning tool to link and reward the expected behaviours, encouraging students to self-regulate their behaviour. I would also use ClassDojo to set self-learning tasks at the end of lessons to encourage students to increase their self-efficacy. More about my use of ClassDojo in a separate post...

Rather than having a large class of students, having only a maximum of 12 students in my group coming into the library meant I could work out their seating plan beforehand. I set up seats into a horseshoe arrangement so I could see all of the students and they could all see me and each other for collaborative learning and discussion. I put name tags for each student onto each seat and for the first lesson, I followed boy-girl-boy-girl positioning. as I find this strategy can limit chatting a bit! When students came in, they found their name badge and sat down promptly - avoiding any skirmishes and pushing for places.

Once the students were seated, I was able to have a friendly discussion within a close proximity to them to discuss the posters. I first introduced an A3 version of the good learning choices poster (see right) with its library setting so students could relate to it. I let the students speak about what it meant to them and many responded enthusiastically, immediately grasping its significance. Throughout the lesson afterwards I was able to point at a behaviour, whether positive or negative, and comment to a student about how well he or she was doing.

The second poster I showed was the Give Me 5 one (see above). Another NET friend had showed me her strategy based on this which was proving very effective in her school with all of Key Stage 1. Again, it didn't take much for the students to cotton on to the steps and mimic what I was showing them.

Then the last poster was the Voice Meter one, which had to be explained a little especially with terms such as 'whisper'. However, in one group, a couple of students knew what it meant and were able to demonstrate to the rest of the students - job done! I think these posters communicate what is required to students in a clear and consistent way, keeping teacher talk to a minimum. They also enhance students' English vocabulary in that they learn more functional and instructional language.

Introducing these posters to the students had taken some time and ate into the main lesson period, so although I had wanted to show the students ClassDojo and how they could be rewarded with points for good behaviour, I had to move on. Instead I'll introduce ClassDojo to them in the next lesson which will incorporate the classroom management skills shown in the good learning choices poster. Other techniques such as the 'traffic light system' could be used, but for now I'll see how I get on with ClassDojo with its positive reward system.

Even though introducing these posters had taken some time, it was important to introduce it as effective classroom management maximises learning opportunities and caters for learning diversity. It's important to coach students at the beginning of the academic year rather than later. to help them to be more mindful of their behaviour going forward,

As the year progresses, I would like to assign jobs to some students to help with resource management, preparation and the set-up in our learning space. In my first lesson with one group, I've already pinpointed the students who are tech-savvy and can help with helping others to log in or out of apps, minimise screens and distribute or collect iPads. I will probably rotate roles for other students such as collecting books and materials.

Knowing the students better as the year goes by also means I can work out group dynamics to ensure students can work well together. Group work also requires careful planning whether students are undertaking independent work or interactive activities (cooperative learning) together. For cooperative learning activities, the EDB NET Section has some posters here (example below) as well as providing professional development courses.

In co-planning meetings I am also discussing and co-reflecting on classroom management challenges with my colleagues to consider what can go wrong in a lesson, what to do and agreed consequences for students who don't follow the rules. I think our biggest problem in the library is the lack of space in that the tables are quite big and heavy to manoeuvre. As P3 students are growing and getting larger, there may not be enough room for them to sit comfortably in the current set-up. It's quite a problem to solve.

I'd recommend Biill Roger’s Decisive Discipline, William Glasser’s Choice Theory and Canter’s Assertive Discipline for more information on classroom management techniques such as praising, tactical ignoring, offering choices and following through on consequences. For the posters, subscribe to this blog and you can get them free, downloaded from the File Share tab above or follow the link here.

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