Class Management

Power, Fun and Freedom

by Shelley Gray on November 14, 2012

Power, fun and freedom. These are three little words that can take any lesson or classroom experience from boring to engaging with just a few minor adjustments.

As adults, most of us look for opportunities to have power over our choices and express our individuality. Additionally, we naturally perform tasks that are fun or interesting over boring, unengaging tasks. (Wouldn’t you rather surf Pinterest than fold laundry?!) Children are no different. Your students crave the opportunity to make their own choices and take responsibility for their own learning. They crave learning opportunities that teach, but that also allow them to have fun!

But how do you achieve this when you have curriculum to get through and teach a class full of varying ability levels and interests? Here are just a few ideas that will help you infuse power, fun and freedom into your classroom:

  • Allow choice. Always. The easiest way to do this is to choose two or three tasks that all cover the curriculum standard that you are trying to achieve and allow students to choose between the tasks. For example, you might have students choose to do a presentation using a PowerPoint slide show, orally, or by writing an essay. Regardless of the option they choose, learning is being presented; however by offering diverse choices you allow students to tap into their multiple intelligences and choose the task that is most appealing to them.
  • Run your classroom as a democracy. Rather than telling students the rules and consequences, develop them as a class. Rather than telling students what they will be learning, ask them what they want to learn about a specific topic. Students will be more receptive to what you want them to do when they feel that they are in control.
  • Make learning fun! There is always a way, regardless of how dry subject matter may be. Incorporate cooperative learning, gallery walks, or interesting projects. The extra planning time that you put into this will pay off in the long run.
  • Think like a kinesthetic learner. A percentage of your students will learn best in a kinesthetic manner, meaning that they learn best when performing hands-on tasks that allow moving around, manoeuvring objects or cutting/pasting/gluing. Despite the fact that not everyone is primarily a kinesthetic learner, this style of learning and teaching is very effective and will appeal to almost everyone. If you can start planning your lessons so that they utilize hands-on learning, you will immediately see higher engagement and fewer classroom management issues. Hands-on learning is fun!

So the next time that you are planning a lesson or trying to boost engagement in your classoom, think to yourself, “How can I incorporate power, fun and freedom into this lesson?” I promise you that you will be amazed how it changes your teaching.

Have a great day,

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Why I don’t REQUEST Compliance

by Kendal Privette on November 12, 2012


Pencil and Paper on Desk

I don’t say, “Please,” anymore. Or not as much anyway. This school year has proven to be the most challenging for me in nineteen years, and one of the reasons is a handful of defiant, confrontational students. After sleepless nights and tears at the end of the day, I knew I would have to change some of my behaviors to encourage change in my students’ behavior. So I began reading, and one article I read  at Intervention Central  forced me to analyze how I speak to students when I assign them a task:

Commands have less impact when stated as questions or requests, because the student may believe that he or she has the option to decline.

Instead of asking, “Will you please stop tapping on your desk?” I choose to give a command (with a thank you), “Stop tapping. Thank you.” This seemingly trivial change has helped me establish myself as the person in control of the classroom, allowing me to teach and students to learn.

Looking for more ideas for managing difficult students or managing your classroom? I’ve found Scholastic’s Managing your Classroom and Intervention Central’s Behavioral Interventions helpful.

kendal’s personal blog is a spacious place

photo credit


Overheard in my Classroom

by Laura Groves on October 23, 2012

One sophomore girl to another: “My parents go on and on about things I’ve done wrong…but they never say anything about all the things I do right!”

If you’re a parent, your first reaction to this quote is likely, “Oh, come on. They NEVER say ANYTHING about what you do right?”

Your reaction may be a little skewed depending on your particular perspective, but there’s one thing you can’t deny about what I overheard:  kids often feel as if their failures get center stage, and their successes aren’t lauded much at all.

My classroom has taught me that regardless of what we know, we have to give credence to what our students feel. And this student could easily have substituted “my teacher” for “my parents.”

How much time do I spend on my students’ successes compared to the lectures on their unacceptable behavior or their apathy?

I think we figure, as do parents, that kids should know when they’re doing something right. This is especially true when teaching upper school students. We figure they’ll think praise is cheesy or we’ll embarrass them. But they need to hear the positive reinforced.

One day I paid particular attention to the number of negative interactions to the positive ones, and it was clear. I was much more apt to say, “Joe, pay attention, please” than “Alex, that’s exactly right. Such a good point!”

Expressing gratitude for the small things students do is another way to build that positive spirit in the classroom. I do expect them to hand out books when I ask or collect something for me, but there’s nothing wrong with thanking them for doing it. “Thanks for helping with those books” can go a long way. And sometimes the students who will get up out of their seats and DO something aren’t the scholarly ones, but they need those kudos even more.

We don’t need to manufacture happiness or approval. Our students will see right through that. But there are plenty of small things we can say to reinforce positive behavior in our classrooms. And they don’t always need to be said in front of the class. Sometimes pulling Joe aside right before he goes out the door makes the praise seem more special, more individualized, and even more genuine.

What would I love for my students’ parents to overhear at home? “My teacher always notices when I help or do something well. I used to not like English, but it’s not so bad this year.”

What can you to do build bridges to your students today?

Laura Groves


Looking for some fresh ideas for effective {and positive} classroom management? Take a few minute to watch the following video compilation by The George Lucas Foundation’s Edutopia site for educators.

I personally loved the first idea given of beginning each class with a firm handshake, one-on-one interaction with each student, and a random pop quiz from previous material learned in class. One teacher uses these three things as the students’ “ticket” to enter the class for the day.


Related Posts.  Classroom Management that Works    |    Having Students Do Their Own Classroom Management    |   Top Ten Resources for Classroom Management


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