Monday, June 10, 2013

ok, but next time, I'M SERIOUS!

Have you ever heard yourself saying those EXACT words? I know I have! I am a guest blogger over at Teaching 4 Real. Pamela is on vacation (JEALOUS!) and I agreed to keep her readers busy with my ramblings. I thought, "why not keep my reader's busy with my ramblings too?!" HA! Just kidding! I don't ramble too much, do I? Don't answer that. Moving onto the topic of this post.
We hear it all the time. Be consistent. Be consistent in your teaching. Be consistent in your classroom management. Be consistent in your discipline. But it’s easier said than done right? Of course it is!

This is my 5th year of teaching and I still struggle with this, but I hope that this post gives you a little insight into how I have grown over the years and made my classroom a more consistent learning environment.

It is important to start on day 1 with consistency and expectations. This is the first day your students will see you and you have to show them what you expect. I’ve heard the rule, “You have to be mean till Christmas. Then the kids will know what they can and cannot get away with.” I completely agree with this! Maybe not the mean part, but the principle that you have to stand strong in what you expect. Both in academics and behavior. Your students will thrive off of your expectations! I promise!

How do you promote consistency? Here are some ideas.

1.       Start a behavior system on day 1 and stick to it. I use a clip chart. You can use any behavior system. You must make sure to clearly lay out what deserves a consequence and what deserves praise. I use the terms “peacemaker” and “peacebreaker”. We brainstorm what a peacemaker and peacbreaker is the first week of school and put it on an anchor chart that hangs RIGHT by our clip chart. After the brainstorming is done I introduce the clip chart. (See my Teachers Pay Teachers store to look over the clip chart I use in my classroom). We talk about how if you do any of the peacemaker actions, you will get to clip up. And if you do any of the peacebreaker actions you will have to clip down. No arguments. And if you do argue, you clip down again! This one was a hard one for my firsties. They would argue with me about EVERYTHING! I have helped most of them stop doing that this year. Thank goodness!

2.       When a student breaks a rule, there is a consequence. NO MATTER WHAT! I understand that there are extenuating circumstances and you have to use your judgment, but I’ve learned from experience, if you let them get away with it once, they will try again and again and again to get away with it!

3.       Also, make sure that even if one of your sweet ones breaks a rule, you have to give the same consequence you would to your trouble student as you would your sweet student. I find myself sometimes thinking “oh, they won’t do it again”. Again, I say, consistency!

4.       Keep a schedule! This helps with academic consistency! We are in our last 2 days of school, but we are still doing our calendar and problem solving till the LAST day! And guess what? My students expected nothing less. We do it EVERY morning and they know this is what we do. This also removes the chance for behavior because they know the schedule and know what’s coming next in the day. This way they won’t sit there and think “well I don’t know what we’re doing, so I’m going to goof off!”

5.       Set expectations EARLY! At my school we do the workshop model for reading, writing, and math. In writing my students can write for 30 minutes STRAIGHT! Yes, I know, I’m very proud of them! Of course, we didn’t start there, but the 1st day I introduced writer’s workshop to my students, they were told that eventually we would reach 30 minutes of independent writing time. And we did reach that! We wrote EVERY day this year at the SAME time, upping our writing time every day. They knew we wrote during that time. And if we didn’t (very rarely happened), they would ask “why aren’t we writing?!” They really do thrive off schedules!

I hope that through this post you learned a little bit about consistency and you can try it in your classroom. I promise you won’t regret it. Have a good week!

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  1. I subscribe to "Don't let them see you smile until Halloween." (okay--not really--how do you not smile with firsties)

    I feel I'm pretty good at classroom management but consistency is definitely the key. At the beginning of the year when that first kid clips down I swear you can hear the air being sucked out of the room. It's rough to make an example but it works.

    Thanks for the advice and reminders.

    You Might Be a First Grader….

  2. I'm moving from 6th to 1st. I understand the consistency thing, but at the risk of sounding like a total goober, how "mean" and "unsmiley" are we talking? I realize your're not being literal, but I'm afraid I'm gonna make a firstie cry. What is considered a pleasant, but firm, tone of voice may differ from 6th to 1st!

    1. Great question KaSandra! For first grade, I have learned that you have to be more consistent than the older grades. I used to teach 4th. As for the level of "mean", every class is different! Some can handle you being more relaxed, others cant!

      I had a parent this year tell me at the end of the year that she LOVED that I was "mean" in my discipline. I was stunned! I asked her to explain. She said that I am firm, but she knows that I have her sons best interest at heart. I may be firm, but I promise if you ask any of my students years from now what kind of teacher I was, they are going to remember the love I had for them! Isn't that why we set boundaries and rules? Because we love our students! If you want them to obey, you have to set boundaries and react accordingly. Those first few weeks will be a time for everyone to get used to everyone! Be easy on yourself and don't worry if they cry! They are babies :) especially at the beginning of the year! You want to be loving because those babies need it, but when it's time for discipline, they need to see a different kind of teacher, does that make sense?

      I have made many firsties cry and it's ok! They have to learn. For my ones that cry, this is how I handle them. I ask them if they are crying because they are sad they made bad choices? Normally they shake their head yes through the tears. I reassure them that I am not mad at them but disappointed in their decisions. I remind them that I love them and want to teach them how to act in the classroom. I ALWAYS end with a hug and ask them if they want to go get a drink of water :) They always want a hug and that drink of water helps them calm down. Most of the time they come back in the classroom ready to continue the day!

      As for my tone of voice, they can tell when I'm serious. Something just changes in my voice and they are learning about you for the first few weeks too! So you have to decide what your teacher voice is. I have even sat my firsties down at the beginning of the year and showed them how my voice will change when they are doing something they shouldn't. They become very aware of my voice changes and will learn from them!

      Of course, this is how I run my classroom and EVERY teacher is different! Do what feels right to YOU! And if you need to change how you do it throughout the year, that's ok! No one knows your students like you do! Good luck in your jump down!

  3. Ashley,
    Thank you for taking the time to write such a detailed response. Everything you wrote makes perfect sense. And, it is encouraging that you went from 4th to 1st and you love it. I think I will love it too.
    P.S. The chevron is my first choice too ;-)


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