When the Center Did Not Hold — Or Your Classroom Management Plan Imploded — Continued

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Hi, new teacher. See my preceding post for evaluation advice that may be useful next year, even if this year’s evaluations have flown by.

Going back to March’s current struggles, these posts are based on the presumption that one or more of your classes have slipped off the leash. The students in that class don’t follow the rules. They waste time. They listen only intermittently. They talk, talk, talk. And you are having about as much fun as a goldfish in a school of piranhas. Thinking of that class may even make you wonder if the money you spent on education classes went toward the wrong major.

Take a deep breath. Remember, the research shows that first- and second-year teachers underperform their more experienced colleagues. Some people do seem to be naturals, but many starting teachers struggle, especially those working in academically underperforming districts. You are not alone. Your administration will probably support you, too, if you show that you are trying to learn your craft.

Don’t be afraid to ask for a little help — although too many requests for help can prove problematic. A fine line exists between “I could use some advice,” and “I don’t know what I am doing.” You want your Principal to believe you are passionate about learning your craft as you ask to go to that professional development on classroom management, to see you as a teacher-in-the-making. But too many and too plaintive requests for help can result in a Principal thinking, “I don’t know if Jones has what it takes.”

So pace those requests for help. Spread out those requests for help. Find informal mentors as well as assigned mentors to give you advice — maybe even people you know in other school districts. Get tips from more experienced colleagues in district and elsewhere. Read books on teaching. Make new seating charts while you experiment on your own. If you try to get all your help from too few sources, you risk becoming a pest.

Be careful not to be too dramatic as you seek advice. Don’t tell your mentor that 7th period is out of control. Tell her that behaviors are slowing down learning. Ask for help managing specific behaviors and events. Hone in on the problems you want to fix first. You might want to start with talking, for example. Ask friends and mentors how they manage talkers who are not listening to presentations.

Eduhonesty: My advice for today’s short post is to break down your struggle with your personal “7th period” into as many pieces as possible. Then prioritize. Which problems are hurting learning the most? Tackle those problems first, in small groups or one at a time. As pieces begin to fall into place, other problems may solve themselves.

The more detail you can provide for a specific problem, the more likely that colleagues can and will be able to help you. Just as “Can you help me jump my battery” can be counted on to work better than “Can  you fix my engine?”, a specific request such as “Can you share some strategies on how to keep Johnny from getting out his seat?” will work better than, “Can you tell me what to do with Johnny?”

If you are reading this post, you may be having a tough March. Please remember — Classroom management gets easier. You will learn the traps that steal your class minutes. You will find your style.

Hugs and hang on to that growth mindset. 🙂

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