Monday, June 16, 2014

Dazzling Discipline Linky Party

Hello from colorful Colorado! I just love this time of year when I can slow down and enjoy time with my family and friends. It's also great to have time to review the past school year from a bit of a distance and think through the past school year. I have some many ideas for next year and I'm excited to plan them out over the next two months. 

Today I'm linking up with Mrs. Miracle's Music Room  and her Dazzling Discipline Linky Party. Discipline is an ongoing interest of mine and I've read a lot about classroom management and discipline.   

Before I describe my top 5 discipline ideas, here's a few resources I've found very helpful:

Love and Logic books, DVDs, and Presentations
Jim Fay, Dr. Charles Fay, and Dr. Foster Cline have authored several books and DVDs for parents and teachers. They also give several presentations and conferences. If you get a chance to attend a Love and Logic lecture I highly recommend it!

Michael Linsen's articles and books are full of specific techniques for leading a positive, respectful class. He has a new book that I have on order, (check this out!):

Connect With Your Students and Respect Your Students 

The longer I teach the more I understand that it's all about relationships. What do students need to be successful in the music room? They need to feel connected and respected. Children will be more likely to behave on class when they feel liked by their teacher. Make sure you know the names of your students and use their names often. It makes a person feel special and accountable when they are addressed by their name. Make an effort to talk to students about non-music topics and be able to relate to them outside of the music room. 

You'll never regret building relationships with others, especially children.

Have a Plan and Work the Plan
As a beginning teacher I remember just hoping that students wouldn't misbehave. Of course that was wishful thinking! If you teach for any amount of time it's going to happen; someone will test you along the way. Now I make sure I set them up for success! At the beginning of each year I spend quite a lot of time teaching music room rules, positive and negative consequences and many procedures. Coming into the music room, lining up at the end of class, circle making, and transitioning from one spot in the room back to an assigned seat are procedures that we practice just like we would rehearse music. (And yes, I have assigned seats. If I let them choose where to sit, many students will sit next to people they will constantly talk with. Why wouldn't I set them up to be successful by eliminating distractions?) Before the school year starts, write down your expectations around behavior and plan to rehearse them with classes.

Reward Hard Work  
Recognize when individuals or groups have worked hard to improve their skills and understanding. When students obviously make a strong effort I give them a "star" by drawing a star on the white board. At the end of class one student is chosen to record the number of stars next to their class name. Fifty stars equals a "free day" in music. During their free day, students choose four or five favorite songs or games for that day. The songs and games have to be ones we've done in music class but can be from any previous grade level; (this is why 6th grade classes can sometimes be seen outside playing Snail, Snail!)

Be Specific with "Praise"
For the last few years I've really been working on not saying, "good job!" or "great work!" The most meaningful praise to anyone is specific and may not even sound like praise, "You slowed your tempo that last time and you were able to sing that challenging phrase!" When I make observations rather then throw out a generic, "Good job!", the students know I am honestly paying attention and I'm not just throwing around compliments. Students get a more complete picture of what makes a "good job."  I learned this from my husband, the art teacher. His goal is to make sure students understand the techniques and skills they are working on without placing a generic value judgment on the art. Think about yourself and which has had more impact on you as a student musician; the "good jobs" or the specific observations?

Have a "Think it Through Spot," a Buddy Room, and an Emergency Plan
Like many teachers, I have a time out area in my room for students who need to re-focus. If a student is off-task and distracting others I quietly hand them a Stop/Go pass. 
My Stop/Go passes have "Stop" on one side and "Go" on the other. 

They look similar to this one:
This is a freebie from a TpT Seller! Click on the image.

The student goes to the "think it through" spot which is an area along some cabinets with a light bulb thought cloud sign posted above. When they feel ready to return, they hold the "Go" side up for me to see and I usually give a nod for them to return. Some students need more time them others. Some even need to work on tiresome music theory pages before they return. Then there are a few students who are working hard to distract and sabotage the class. 

When I have a student who is already sitting in the "think it through" spot but is determined to constantly blurt out comments, or bang his head against the wall repeatedly, or throw bits of gravel at other students, I then give the student a music behavior form, tell them to go next door to the art room, and fill out the form there. (Here is the form me and my teammates use, it's editable.) The art teacher and I have a "buddy room" plan where I can send students to his room and vice versa. When a student is mis-behaving to that extent, my main concern is the other students in music. I can't let one take away the right to learn from the majority of the class. Also, most of the time the student will correct their behavior once they are away from their audience. Does having them go to a different room in front of students in art class give him or her a new audience? No, it usually sobers them right up.

Extreme cases can occur and it's important to have a Behavior Emergency Plan just like you have a fire plan or school lock down plan. What will you do if a student swears at you, or goes into a rage and starts hurling recorders at other students, or runs out of the room?  And what if the principal is out of the building and the school psychologist is only there on Wednesdays and it's Friday? Think through a few scenarios and plan what you will do before it happens. 

Those are just a few ideas I've used for classroom management. Thanks so much to Aileen for hosting this Linky Party on such an important topic!

Have a fun, relaxing week!

1 comment:

  1. #4 is something that is so incredibly important, yet in the moment, I forget to do. Thank you for the reminder!

    Also, another resource to check out is How To a Speak So Kids a Will Listen, How To Listen So
    Kids Will Talk.