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Tips for keeping students on track

Restlessness: A rite of spring?

Tips for keeping students on track

Seminar for probationary teachers

Restlessness: A rite of spring? Dave Sanders Probationary teachers flocked to the Queens UFT office for the union's March 13 seminar, "Developing a Teacher Portfolio," at which UFT Teacher Center specialist Charlie Lobello (standing, right) presented. Participants received pointers about what to include in their portfolios, which will be used by principals in the tenure-granting process to measure teachers effectiveness.

With warm weather around the corner, students with even a mild case of cabin fever may become restless. Teachers trying to complete a demanding course of study by June will be doubly challenged if students misbehave. That’s why at this time of year teachers often find themselves brushing off those tried-and-true classroom management strategies they used when the school year began.

Here’s a quick refresher to help you and your students make it to the school year’s finish line:

Keep the learning momentum going. A well-run lesson that keeps students engaged is your best classroom management strategy. Keep students on their toes by keeping them active. For example, even if they are listening to a presentation by you or a student, have them actively listen for key ideas, prepare to paraphrase or summarize what was said, or take notes for a follow-up activity.

Maintain “with-it-ness.” Create the sense of knowing what’s going on in subtle ways that maintain order. For example, refer to students by name when calling on them or pointing out who is ready for work or doing a good job. This shows that you are aware of them as individuals. Also, walk around the classroom as you explain something or supervise student work. As you do, move toward students who may be getting out of line and stand next to those who get especially restless. Proximity helps you maintain control.

Teach and enforce the rules consistently. Students might test the rules, especially as spring fever sets in. Pay special attention to transition times, when students are easily distracted. Review procedures for things like entering and leaving the classroom, passing in work, moving between activities and other times that may invite misbehavior. If things get out of hand, quickly remind students of your expectations for appropriate, respectful behavior. Good discipline depends on quick, consistent and fair responses by teachers and administrators to misbehavior.

Turn to the Discipline Code. Teachers have the right to get administrative support for maintaining discipline in the classroom. That’s why the union worked long and hard to get the Department of Education to issue a code of conduct. Commonly known as the Discipline Code, the “Citywide Standards of Intervention and Disciplinary Measures” is available on the UFT website. The code lists specific infractions in order of severity from disruptive talking to using a firearm, and it assigns a range of permissible disciplinary measures for each. Become familiar with it and ask your supervisor to follow up on infractions as needed. If administrators fail to follow up appropriately, see your chapter leader about how to proceed.

Use “violence-prevention” strategies. If discipline breaks down despite your best efforts, turn to the strategies you learned in your violence-prevention training to defuse the situation and keep it from getting worse.

For additional pointers, consult your mentor, experienced colleagues or the educational liaison in your UFT borough office.

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