My first teaching job was as a substitute teacher in an 8th-grade classroom, and it was my first experience in the field. I was aware that it would be difficult going into it. My teacher had been out of work for two months, so students had to endure a different teacher every day until I was able to secure a position. They lacked organizational structure and consistency. They were befuddled and disoriented. They were all in need of direction. They claimed that my work was straightforward.
My worst fears were confirmed on the first day of work. The students were extremely vocal. They were shouting over each other, and I was shouting over them. They were supposed to be working, but instead, they were fiddling with their phones and texting. They responded in kind. Several of them appeared to be completely satisfied with their purchases. It only took a few hours for me to feel challenged, and then it only took another few hours to feel in command. As a result, I reached out to my mentor for assistance.
Mr. Kriegle, a veteran teacher and author of books on classroom management, reminded me that every classroom has the potential to be saved. He explained to me that I was going through the same thing that many other teachers were going through as well. It was he who explained to me that there were three things you should keep in mind when attempting to regain control of a tense classroom environment.
- Your students should not be confused. Students who don’t grasp the lesson’s content can not only lose academically but also suffer from behavioral problems. Some students will be completely unmotivated, while others will behave out. Students who are adequately challenged and have a solid understanding of the material tend to be more self-motivated and on-task. Make sure to take the time to assess each lesson and make sure they are fully understanding. It doesn’t matter if you do it as a quick check or an exit slip. This is vital.
- Your students should feel sufficiently challenged. Problems can also come from the other side. Students will experience the same issues if the work is too simple and the lessons don’t challenge them. It is important to find the student’s zone for proximal development and then teach
- accordingly. As previously mentioned in the first point above, Mr. Kriegel stated that formative assessments can be beneficial, but that exit slips will not tell you whether or not students are performing at a higher level than you are. The fact is that this is not a problem that can be solved. You can check in with the students to see if they are finishing their work quickly or if their body language is changing while they are debating their points of view. Is anyone there? Are they awake? Is it possible for them to persevere and find a solution? If they don’t appear to be struggling, you might want to consider assigning them more difficult work.
- Ascertain that they are occupied. Following the determination that your students are proficient, ensure that they have a variety of activities to participate in. Having downtime in a chaotic classroom is not a good thing. As stated by Mr. Kriegel, overly preoccupied students will not have the opportunity to get into trouble. He recommends that lecturers spend no more than ten minutes per class per subject. It is possible to use the remainder of the time for self-directed learning. The teacher creates a list of tasks for the students to complete, and they work at their own pace. Silent reading, worksheets, and projects are examples of activities. It is critical to have more resources than you anticipate you will need on a given day. Any items left on your to-do list are automatically added to the following day’s schedule, and the process is repeated every week.
- After my meeting, I tried some of his suggestions. First, I assigned a text to my students to read. Then they scribbled down everything unclear. Almost all of them had misplaced the text. They were unable to comprehend what I was requesting them to read. Their inability to comprehend what I was asking them to read was a source of frustration. The moment I explained the text’s structure and context to them, their behavior changed dramatically. They were interested in learning more. Not the latest gossip, but the text itself was what they were interested in discussing. They wished to discuss the text rather than engage in gossip. I evaluated them regularly and assigned them more homework to complete in class. Within a week, my students had undergone a complete transformation. They had a good time and worked hard.